Thursday, June 26, 2008

my warrior poet

yesterday jonas and betty were playing at the park. there was a little boy there whom we don't know. he was being a bit aggressive and i wasn't sure how to handle it. for example, he would push past betty on the slide or ladder if she was going too slow. that's pretty common behavior for kids that age (probably around 4), but he was just a little rougher than most. he hit jonas a few times, tried to push him out of his way, that sort of thing. my question is this: when should boys be allowed or encouraged to fight back?

here's what i came up with: if that boy is being mean to sissy or to someone else smaller, you can tell him to stop. but if he's just being mean to you, then walk away and don't play with him anymore.

once after the mean boy (that's what i've started calling him; i don't know his real name) had roughly pushed past betty and made her cry, jonas marched up to him with his hands on his hips and said "You, sir, STAY AWAY FROM MY SISTER!" i was so proud. but later, if the boy was hitting jonas, jonas hit right back, and i was less enthusiastic about that. i just told jonas to stop hitting and leave that boy alone and go play somewhere else. but jonas didn't get a spanking or anything, because i saw everything, and the other boy instigated every time. of course his parents are like 50 yards away eating lunch and talking on the phone, completely oblivious.

here's a funny story about theodore roosevelt:

Theodore taught Sunday School at Christ Church, but he was so muscular a Christian that the decorous vestrymen thought him an unwise guide in piety. For one day a boy came to class with a black eye which he had got in fighting a larger boy for pinching his sister. Theodore told him that he did perfectly right—that every boy ought to defend any girl from insult—and he gave him a dollar as a reward. The vestrymen decided that this was too flagrant approval of fisticuffs; so the young teacher soon found a welcome in the Sunday School of a different denomination.

what do you think? what would you have done?



Steph said...

I was gonna wait until you guys decided how to handle those things and then follow you!...Just kidding :)

It's so hard to know what's right. I love the quote though! I think Ol' Theodore knew a thing or two ;)

Anonymous said...

oh i have no idea!
i've been wondering about "playground politics" for a while now...
one time at swim lessons, a boy hit Isaiah in the face several times. after the 3rd rough slap, I marched over to him and wagged my finger in the boy's face and commanded him to leave my kid alone. never even thought about how the kid's mom might feel that i was chastising her son. i didn't notice she was watching... (if so, why hadn't she put an end to the violence?) the look on her face was priceless. still don't know what i should have done! or what i should do in similar circumstances... i know my mom and mother-in-law have no qualms about "instructing" other people's kids. but they're public school teachers and are paid to do exactly that! so, um, yes, any advice is welcome!

Andy said...

few things are as humbling to a child as having someone else's mother scold them. until they reach 14 or 15 years of age, then they're equal-opportunity eye-rollers.

i struggle with this at work nearly everyday. we look at "physical aggression" with a lot of people (and how to decrease it) - but if the behavior was instigated by another individual, and thus in self-defense (or in defense of someone else), how strongly do we reprimand the action? typically we do as you did, issue a verbal reprimand to the defender, while reserving harsher consequences for the aggressor.

that said, when it's unavoidable, i've always like the advice: "in a fight, hit first and hit hard."

Erin said...

Okay, teacher confession: I remember at least once, being slow to respond when I became aware that a student I'd seen targeted by a bully finally exacted some payback. Morally, I needed to stop it, but my feet were draggin'!!