A few weeks ago, the phone rang, interrupting my workday. I looked down at the caller ID and panicked. Every mom knows the terror that ensues when we see our kid’s school calling. Schools only call for two reasons: when a kid is sick or when a kid is in trouble. My kid was not sick.
“Everything’s fine,” the head of the school said. “But your son got punched in the stomach by a friend today.” Ugh, I thought to myself. My son is in third grade. I thought any kind of physical stuff between kids ended at preschool and wouldn’t begin again until high school, or never.
I asked if my son was hurt. He wasn’t. I asked if he was upset. He wasn’t. “But,” the head of school said, “Your son hit the boy back. They’re both going to have a consequence.”
I hung up the phone, happy that my son wasn’t hurt or upset, but confused as to why my son had gotten a consequence. At the very minimum, I thought, the boy who initiated the fight should have had a more severe consequence than my son. To me, the two infractions weren’t at all equal.
Honestly, when the head of school said my son had hit the other boy back my first thought was, “Good.”
I mean, what’s a kid supposed to do when he gets hit by another child? I don’t understand or condone violence, but I liked that my son stood up for himself. Chances are, that boy won’t be hitting my son again. And nobody else will either.
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to raise a tiny vigilante, but I am realistic about kids. And I know sometimes frustrations or tension get out of hand and kids don’t always know how to express it. In a perfect world one should just walk away from a fight. Except it doesn’t really happen that way.
I believe a kid who hits another kid is going to hit that kid again, unless he knows not to. And sadly the best way for that kid not to hit someone again is knowing he’s going to get hit back.
Even though it’s not politically correct or polite, I’m going to tell my kid to hit back.
When I picked my son up from school that day, he got in the car certain that I was going to punish him for the schoolyard fight.
“Mommy,” he said cautiously, “A friend hit me today. So I hit him back.”
“OK,” I told him.
“You’re not mad at me?” he asked sure he’d heard wrong.
“Nope, “ I said. “I’m glad you stood up for yourself.”
I then told my son that if he ever initiated a fight, or initiated hurting another child, there would be major consequences. “But,” I told him. “I’m never going to be mad at your for standing up for yourself. Your school will probably send you home, but your dad and I will support you. We won’t be mad if you hit back.”
I wish fighting were never an issue, but I’d rather my kids be prepared if need be. Plus, I never want either of my kids to be intimidated or scared of anyone. At the very minimum they should know they can handle themselves and stand up for themselves as well.
So to the kid who hit my kid in the stomach, I’m #sorrynotsorry you got hit back. I wish it hadn’t come to that, but that’s what you get when you start a fight. So maybe think twice about hitting my kid or any other kid at school again. Because even though it’s not politically correct or polite, I’m going to tell my kid to hit back. So if I were you, I’d think twice about hitting anyone again. That punch back didn’t feel so good, now did it?