Mama Says "Boo-Ya" Baby
Many of you know the struggles I've faced parenting my Diminutive One. He's smart, funny, sensitive, outgoing and kind. He's also stubborn, persistent, argumentative, impulsive and extraordinarily single minded. I often do not feel equipped to be entrusted with the Herculean task of parenting him. Every day I feel that I'm doing more damage than guiding and molding.
But I do have moments of greatness. They're rare. They're isolated. They're usually unexpected. They're always welcome. I had one of those moments recently and it was unbelievably sweet.
Diminutive One got suspended just before Christimas for being involved in a physical altercation with a kid who has been bullying him relentlessly all year. This time he was the aggresssor. He had decided enough was enough and he cold cocked the kid as he was exiting a classroom. The other kid threw a couple weak slap punches but otherwise, laid there and cowered like a rabbit looking down the barrel of a shotgun.
But that's not how the bully spun it. Oh no. You see...he had an advantage. With Diminutive One out of the picture a week, the bully took the opportunity to revise the story and make himself out to be the ass kick-er instead of the ass kick-ee. And he knows the secret. All you really have to do to sell a story is tell it convincingly. Just look at Hitler. He was a master of propoganda. And so is this kid.
Diminutive One knew this would happen and thought he was prepared. But when he returned to school the barrage of taunts and teasing was more than he had bargained for. He returned home that day disspirited and angry. He had taken a suspension to make a stand and prove a point, only to have it get lost in a landslide of half truth and hyperbole.
So I did what any Mother would do. I taught him to fight dirty. I told him to take the bully's own weapon; words...and use it against him.
"If he can lie about what happened, so can you." I said.
Diminutive One's eyes grew wide at the idea of his mother sanctioning a lie.
"Seriously, Dude. People believe him because he can lie convincingly. Which means he tells lies that are believable and he tells them with absolute sincerity. So you have to do the same thing. Don't embellish too much, don't rewrite history. Just make it clear that you kicked his ass so badly he begged to be taken out of your classes (which is true). But above all, you have to play it cool when someone tells you they heard he kicked your ass. Just shrug and say something like...."Dude, I'm the one who kicked his ass. He's nothing but a little pussy with a big mouth."
Again Diminutive One's eyes widened at my blatant profanity and my implicit permission for him to use it as well.
Now...you might think that's awful. But I know how boys think, I know how boys handle conflict and I know how boys talk. It's all about bravado, machismo, and dirty words. You want to solve a 12 year old boy's problem, you have to think like one and talk like one. The dirtier, the better.
So I told Diminutive One that it might make some time, but that if he kept it up, the stories would start to change in his favor. But above all, he had to be absolutely unflappable. That's the key. That's why Pubescent One never gets picked on. He has learned to ooze nonchalance.
So a couple of weeks have gone by and I've been on the lookout for signs that things were not improving. But Diminutive One has been pretty happy go lucky, so I didn't ask. I just waited.
Yesterday, he came home grinning from ear to ear.
"Hey Mom, guess what happened today."
I couldn't guess, and he could scarcely wait for me to finish telling him I couldn't guess before the words came tumbling out in a rush.
"A kid came up to me today and said 'Hey Dude, I heard YOU kicked Bully's ass!' You were right Mom. It worked. It actually worked!"
I admit, I danced a little jig in my heart. I can't do anything about his Asperger's or his ADHD or his difficulties navigating life, but by God I can give him some great lines to use against a bully.
Was it my shining moment as a Mother? Well..probably not. But I was damn happy about it all the same. He had a problem and I solved it. And that doesn't happen often once they get older. When they're babies they cry for one of three reasons; hunger, fatigue, soiled diaper. I can fix those. When they get to be toddlers, the problems are a little more complicated (the struggle for autonomy...oy) but can usually be fixed with a cookie or a trip to McDonald's playland. Even in grade school, the issues are fairly straightforward.
But with puberty, everything changes and your child must walk the minefield that is Middle School. Suddenly you find yourself with absolutely no idea how to fix the problems that your children are facing. That girl doesn't know he's alive, that teacher hates him, that kid won't stop picking on him, he doesn't have pubic hair yet and all the other kids do, peer pressure, drugs, brand consciousness, media influences....the list is endless. And you do your best, but you never really know if you did the right thing or made any kind of difference for your child.
But this time? I fixed it. And I made a difference. BOO-Ya, baby.