Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Mother's Gift

I did not have brothers growing up. I always wanted one, but intstead, I got two sisters. Which was fine. Better than fine, really. We had a fantastically girlie upbringing, owing to the fact that my mother was a Hairdresser, but we also did all the things my father would have done with a son.

However, I always felt that the lack of a brother made me ill prepared for raising boys. Twelve years ago I cried in a dark and frigid little room when it was revealed that my unborn baby was a boy. I thought, stupidly, that I would never be able to do it "right", and that I would screw up a boy child beyond all reckoning.

Needless to say, I have adapted, and actually, having boys suits me quite well. I have never had any patience for the female tendency toward drama, gossip, and emotional warfare. Their less histrionic way of dealing with the world is refreshing.

But the thing that I have never really grown accostomed to is the male proclivity toward competition and combat. Everything is a contest. Everything. They compete over who can bolt their dinner the fastest, who can fart the longest and loudest, who can run, jump, climb and throw the fastest highest and hardest.

Mostly this isn't a problem, but sometimes, vicious fights erupt. Girls fight with words and wiles, but boys fight with fists. And I am often taken aback by the ferocity of these encounters. When a boy fights, it isn't a little slap or some hairpulling...it's in earnest. Eyes get blackened, noses get bloodied, lips get split.

It's quite shocking to me, but Husband doesn't even bat an eyelash.

I often find that I have little to offer when these occasions arise. I can't mediate because they're long past that point. Husband says that you have to let them fight unless it looks like someone is in danger of being seriously injured, because otherwise, they will simply resume the battle at another time in another place, with possibly even more disastrous results.

He has explained to me that it's vital that boys learn to stand up for themselves and to defend themselves. He says that at some point, every boy will have to prove that he can't be pushed around by kicking someone's ass. So interevening, apparently, is not only ineffectual, it's unwise.

Pacifism it seems, is an option not really available to young men. And though that saddens and puzzles me, it beyond my power to change. I accept it, even if I don't like it. And I am constantly amazed by how boys who were bitter enemies engaged in mortal combat one minute, are laughing and joking with one another the next. Boys fight and forget, while girls hold a grudge.

Sometimes, I do have something to offer. Sometimes, the uniquely female ability exploit a weakness and strike where it really hurts comes in handy. I'm not proud of this ability, but I accept it as an indisputable characteristic of my genetic make-up.

Not long ago, Pre-Pubescent One, who really is very passive and easy going and not often given to physical aggression, came to me with a problem. He is also very sensitive, and as such, makes an excellent target. He came home from school one day very glum. He flung down his backpack, slumped into a kitchen chair and laid his head in his hands.

"John Q. Adolescent SUCKS!" he said vehemently.

"Why?" I asked mildly. I've learned that his sensitivity amplifies otherwise minor matters, and I don't get too upset until I've learned all the details.

"He keeps calling me Pre-Pubescent One GAY-fer." he said with disgust.

This, presumably, was meant to be a play on our last name, but it wasn't a very clever one, as our last name is not even close to sounding like GAY-fer and it doesn't easily lend itself to such a pun. But it didn't matter to Pre-Pubescent One. It was a slur against his emerging and still fragile sexual identity and it was really pissing him off.

"Well, what did you do when he called you that?"

"I told him to shut up and then I left."

Stalked off in a huff, is what he did. And it was immensely gratifying for John Q. Adolescent, who repeated the insult with similarly delightful results every day for a week.

"Honey, you have to stop letting him see that it upsets you. That's why he does it. When you react, he gets what he wants. Don't give him the satisfaction. Just stop reacting and he'll stop teasing you."

He rolled his eyes at me and his frown deepend into a full-blown pout.

"That doesn't WORK Mom!"

I thought for a moment about how to help my son. My properly maternal advice really was, quite honestly, nonsensical bullshit. A bully doesn't let something as insignificant as a lack of response stop him. He merely switches tactics until he finds another button to push. No, Pre-Pubescent One was right, and even I knew from experience that the only way to deal with a bully is to give him a taste of his own medicine.

"Alright then...." I said slowly, thinking. "Try this."

I paused for effect.

"You can call him....John Q. UN-Cooley." (The child's last name is Cooley).

My son laughed, delighted at the pun.

"But say it real casually, like you're not upset at all."

"OH YEAH. That oughta shut him up!" he said gleefully.

The next day he came home from school grinning from ear to ear. I asked him if John Q. Adolescent had called him the name today and he nodded his head vigorously.

"Yeah. But I just said 'Whatever, John Q. UN-Cooley.' and everybody laughed!! He got real mad and walked away."

He was delighted and relieved and flush with victory. I couldn't help sharing in his enthusiasm and we grinned at one another conspiratorily.

Was that the right thing to do? Hell, I don't know. I really don't. I could have told him to turn the other cheek, kill him with kindness, be the bigger man. But would it have mattered? Would it have solved the problem? Would it have taught my son anything other than how to roll over and show his tender white belly?

The problem was solved and no blood was shed. I had something to offer and I offered it.

And I have to admit that it felt good.

And that kid? He hasn't bothered my son since.

Heh. Maybe the Department of Defense has a place for me.

13 Comments:

  • At 8:08 PM, Blogger Mamma said…

    Hey you weren't advocating violence. I'm glad it worked!

    I HATE bullies. Yeah, I said hate.

    I had the same experience when being delivered one boy after the next. But I LOVE having them.

     
  • At 8:19 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    Yeah for winning with words over fists! And "UnCooley" is hilarious!

    I have two girls who can fight like cats. I am so glad to have a little boy too though---I was also scared when I found out my third was a boy since I only had a sister growing up. Boys are great though. If I wasn't getting so up there in years and if my body wasn't screaming,"UNCLE!", I'd try for another.

     
  • At 8:31 PM, Anonymous doodaddy said…

    Nicely done -- one of my best moments ever with my dad was coming up with funny names for the people that teased me about mine. I was at a high school reunion many years ago and learned that at least one of the names we came up with had stuck to the poor kid right into adulthood! Score one for the bullied!

     
  • At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Kvetch said…

    I think it was perfect. It's your job to help your kids distinguish between right and wrong -- and that was the right way to get back at him (since ignoring was ineffective).

     
  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger Natalie said…

    I was definitely a fighter as a child. Not that I advocate it or anything but I think my dad may have wanted a boy and raised me to be a little tough. I was told never to start a fight but that I could finish one. I think you did the right thing. That is much better than physical violence. I am terrified of the possibility of having boys. I have no idea how to deal with them and can't put them in adorable dresses.

     
  • At 11:49 AM, Anonymous flybunny said…

    My daughters being so close in age are very competitive and some of their fights have resulted in the same things - bloody nose and black eyes and they also have farting contests which amuses their sonless father to no end....

    I love your play on words - that is awesome. I will have to try that with my spirited child and her current "antagonist" and hopefully have similar results. Although with 8 yr old girls, you can never tell how things will go over.

     
  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    As the parent of a boy, I have to file this one away to make sure I keep this lesson. Excellent!

     
  • At 3:14 PM, Anonymous mamatulip said…

    I think it was great. Like Mama said, you weren't advocating violence. And he showed John Q. a nice little lesson.

     
  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger something blue said…

    I think you handled that perfectly.

    It leaves me thinking about the differences between bullies and cyberbullies being that today is Stop Cyberbullying Day.

    I always thought I'd have a boy and I have girls. Funny how that happens.

     
  • At 8:41 PM, Blogger In the Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    With 3 little boys of my own who will someday face these issue, I definitely worry for them.

    And yeah, I wanted at least one girl. But no luck.

     
  • At 3:29 AM, Blogger luckyzmom said…

    I wish you had been around when my son was experiencing bullying, with that advice. My husband was in the military and gone so often when our son needed advice. And my advice was always your first advice.

     
  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    Turnaround is fair play. And sometimes a parent (I'm convinced of this though I have no experience in it - heh.) has to teach their kids that it's okay to fight back - in the correct way. A little play on a name is a lot better than a punch to the stomach.

    Good for you!

     
  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger jen said…

    this is funny...

    i worked in group homes years ago. it struck me how the boys would beat the crap out of each other but the girls would do far more damage with words and manipulation and cruelty. I liked working with the boys better, easier to know where you stood.

     

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