Testosterone is bad....Mkay?
This is very out of character for him.
Pubescent One dislikes conflict, even if he is not directly involved, and will usually go to great lengths to keep the peace. He's pretty laid back and affable, and unlike Diminutive One, he does not butt heads with other kids very often.
So I was horrified when I realized that my easygoing, good natured son had one of his teammates in a headlock.
Husband was on the field running drills with the boys, so I did not go running out there. But I wanted to.
The skirmish was settled without bloodshed and they went back to practicing. I had to sit there and wait to hear what happened second hand from Husband, who did not actually see or hear what prompted the clash.
In a nutshell...one of the boys is a problem. He is a very negative kid. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, unfortunately. His Dad is one of those parents that sits in the stands and provides constant negative commentary on each and every play. Twice I've caught him making snide comments about my son when he didn't realize I was in earshot, and I've heard innumerable comments from him regarding other kids on the team.
But whatever. I try to ignore it. His kid is generally one of the weaker players, so he's only making himself look like an ass when he criticizes the other kids.
But it's clear that his negativity has rubbed off on his son. At the beginning of the season, the team was not performing very well. Most of the boys were able to maintain a positive attitude despite that, and tried very hard to encourage each other and keep one another's spirits up.
But not this kid. He would sit in the dugout and tell the rest of the boys how much they suck and how he should never have joined such a sucky team, and how none of them would ever get chosen to play high school ball.
On one such occassion, Pubescent One told him to shut his mouth, because he was bringing the team down. And that was the spark that ignited the fuse. It has continued to burn slowly all season long.
My son and this kid both pitch and both play third base. My son is a 13 year old playing on a 14 year old team, so by rights, he should be a secondary pitcher. He knew this going in, and was okay with that. It has not turned out that way however, because his pitching this season has been absolutely stellar, while the fourteen year old pitchers have been really struggling.
He and one other boy have ended up being the go to pitchers for all the important games.
This, of course, really chaps the ass of his nemesis. It also chaps his ass that my son is a far superior third baseman. When my son isn't pitching, he's on third base. The only time the other kid gets to play that position, is when my son is pitching.
And then we have the Alpah Male syndrome. The other kid, being older and bigger, feels as though my son should behave in a more deferential manner towards him. Now, my son may be easy going, but he is not an ass kisser, and he is not a follower.
This of course, all adds to the problem.
And last night, the fuse finally ignited that powder keg of male aggression.
For some reason, the other kid was in a particularly surly mood. He has to go to summer school, and I suspect some of the other kids were ribbing him about it. My son was not, however. Pubescent One is smart, but lazy and unmotivated and we have struggled with him all year. He missed going to summer school by only a few grade points, so he's certainly not one to throw stones.
But my son is his favored target, and that night was no different.
He was calling my son names, (fag, douchebag, etc.) telling him nobody at school likes him...all of which my son took without too much comment. But then, the kid made the grave error of criticizing his baseball playing.
My son warned him that if he didn't shut up, he was going to deck him.
Now, this kid is BIG. He's 5' 10", around 190 pounds. My son is 5'5" and weighs all of 115 pounds. For that reason, I'm sure that kid thought it was an empty threat. And he continued to mouth off.
Finally, my son had enough. He had a baseball bat in his hands when the kid called him a "lame ass motherfucker" and he tells me that for an instant, he had a nearly uncontrollable urge to knock him upside the head with it.
But he didn't. Instead, he threw it at the kid's feet, and told him to "bring it". The kid threw a punch and missed. My son put him in a headlock and gut punched him so hard the kid couldn't breathe. It was at that point that I noticed what was going on.
All I could see was my son holding this ginormous kid, who was scarlet faced and gasping like a fish out of water, in a headlock. I had no idea what events had taken place up to that point, so you can understand my shock.
Two of his teammates pulled them apart. The kid could not resist a parting shot, though I don't know what was said, and my son cocked back to punch him again. It was at this point, that the Coach, who had been doing drills in the outfield, approached, heard what was going on, and told that kid that his behavior was uncalled for.
Later, after practice, the Coach gave the kids a little talk about good sportsmanship, team spirit, and having a positive attitude. He did not point fingers at either kid, but he knew the scoop. As I said, this kid has been a problem all season, and I suppose, being a guy, the Coach knew at some point, one of the boys would make him eat his words.
The thing is...my son was VERY upset about the whole thing later.
He's generally a passive kid, but in the moment, testosterone was coursing through his veins and all he could think about was pounding that kid into the dirt. Later, upon reflection, he was horrified by how he had acted.
He couldn't sleep because he was consumed with guilt. So he came to my bed, crawled in, and asked me what he should do.
He said, "Mom, when I hit him, he just went limp. I really hurt him and I didn't know what to do. I feel bad about that, even though he was asking for it."
What advice is a mother supposed to give in such a situation?
He said he didn't feel that he owed the kid an apology. I agreed. But, I told him, sometimes, an apology can make you feel better and help you to move on, even if it's not warranted. He said he kinda wanted to apologize and kinda didn't. I suggested that if he didn't want to apologize to the kid, perhaps an apology to the Coach and the team for taking their conflict out on the field might be in order. He liked that idea.
When we were done talking, I asked if I had helped ease his worries at all. He said morosely, "Not really, but thanks for trying Mom."
I told him that I wished I could fix it for him, but that he's at an age now where he has to figure out how to fix things for himself. I told him I would always be there to support him when he needed me though.
Then he asked, "When does this being a teenager crap get easier?"
Truthfully, I answered, "Never, honey."
Being a 13 year old girl was hard, and though I sometimes long for my youth, I often think I wouldn't do that again for a squillion dollars. But to be a teenaged boy? God. There's so much...angst. It's acceptable for Girls to express all their frustration and heartache with tears and tantrums. But boys are held to a standard of behavior that does not allow them to express themsevles so freely. They have to be manly...strong...stoic.
Being branded a sissy is a fate worse than death.
Husband told me not long ago that at some point, every boy has to prove that he is more than willing to kick some ass, particularly a passive one such as Pubescent One.
I didn't want to believe it then. I thought it was just more hyper masculine posturing...an excuse to indulge their blood lust and their love of violence. But the more I learn about boys, and how they work, the more I am forced to admit that he is right.
Last night at practice, the kid gave my son a wide berth and did not say one unkind word to anybody.
My son apologized to the Coach and told him that his respect was important to him. He says he feels better now.
Gah. This parenting gig gets harder and harder.