Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fight Club

Sometimes boys fight.

There comes a time in a boys life where he has to stand up for himself, for what is right, or he is in danger of living a mediocre life where he waffles from one thing to the next not really standing up for anything. Nicholas had that fight today and while I am never one to condone violence; I do believe it is sometimes necessary. Here's the full story:

About one month ago, my 10-year-old son Nick was playing football with some of his neighborhood buds at the home of a friend. This neighborhood home is a place where most of the boys gather to spend time together and share good times like only boys do. Now, one of these boys, (we'll call him Joe..he's in 7th grade and is over 6ft tall.) happens to be a bully. Joe has had issues with anger, discipline and authority for the seven years we have known him. Anytime Joe comes over, you can bet there is going to be some sort of argument or tussle. He antagonizes, taunts, and teases anyone who comes his way and for the most part; the kids stay out of his way so as not to get in trouble with their parents. Overall, I think Joe has a good heart and tries to control himself but for some reason...he can't. The school has tried to help him after many fights there, his parents have tried, even good-hearted neighbors have attempted to guide Joe in the right direction with no real luck. He's a tough case.

Anyway, back to football: When Nick was playing football with his buds, Joe came over and joined in. Long story short, a tussle ensued and Joe ended up punching Nick in the face for blocking his run into the end zone. Nick did not fight back, he just held in his anger in, walked home and bawled in my arms as he explained the injustice of it all.

Nick: MOM! I should of hit him back. He SO deserved it!! He humiliated me and I didn't fight back!!! I didn't fight baaaack!!

Me: Well Nick. I know you were trying to do the right thing, and I think you did. It was hard, I know, but think of what Jesus would think of you hitting a kid like that? (Inside I was thinking to myself that Nick should have taught that boy a lesson and punched him right back, but I didn't want Nick to think that he could have free reign to pummel the guy next time he saw him.) You know your father and I are proud of you for turning the other cheek. Next time, just tell another adult and they can talk to him.

Nick: That NEVER works and you KNOW that mom!! Joe never listens to anyone!! (I knew Nick was right.)

After we had the conversation, I made Nick some cookies and let him cool off in front of the television. (Arthur is a great show for that.) In no time my Nick was back to his happy-go-lucky self and forgot all about it (for a while). I felt sorry for our first son. I was conflicted inside myself on what he should have one told me how hard it is to straddle the line of right and wrong and how explain that to a child. At dinner, Nick told his sad story to my husband.

Chris: Nick. You must never, ever start a fight. BUT. If you are in situation where you have to defend yourself and you did not throw the first punch, THEN you fight. Got it?

Nick: Yeah, I got it.

Fast forward to today. It was a gorgeous morning. The first snow of the year and the schools were closed because of weather. All the kids in the neighborhood were out playing in the wet, soggy snow. As usual, the boys gathered in the open space of the neighborhood..about 17 boys in total...having a massive snowball fight. I watched the fun from my window and enjoyed hearing the squeals of delight as the kids dodged snowball and ran to protective bases. Joe was in the mix of boys and was playing with everyone for about 5 minutes when a scuffle ensued. Here is the story as 5 of the boys relayed it to me ( I did not see it)

As the snowball fight progressed, a boy named Matt threw a snowball at Joe's back and it apparently hit hard. Joe got really angry and started pushing Matt to the ground. Nick and a couple of other boys told Joe to back off Matt... Joe got off Matt got up to Nick's face and responded, "You got a problem with that? " He proceeded to PUNCH Nick in the face and turned to punch little Jack and Gus. Well, dear readers, you must be able to guess what happened next. (sigh) Yes, Nick punched back, and punched back with a vengeance. My first-born pummeled that 7th grader as hard as he could. Joe slipped to the ground and continued to punch at Nick's side. At that point it was an all-out punch fest with a pile of boys on Joe. Even Jack and Gus piled on top of the heap. An adult came out to break things up and make sure tempers did not flare up at Joe again. Joe stood up and huffed to the side of the road and glared at Nick.

Knowing that Joe may come back after him at any time, Nick came into the house crying.

Me: Nick! Are you OK?

Nick: (tearfully) Mom, at first I was crying 'cause I was mad. But now I am crying because I'm so happy! I punched Joe, mom! I punched him. He was bullying Matt and I couldn't stand seeing it, so I punched him.

Me: Nick, did he hit you first?

Nick: Yes, he hit Matt first and then me. I'm not going back outside 'cause I'm afraid Joe will come back after me.

Me: (mumbling) Over my dead body.

Nick: (smiling) I punched him mom. Finally. Finally he got what he deserved.

After about 5 minutes, a beaming Nick went back outside and our friend, Joe, decided that he'd had enough and walked back home. I called some of the boys to my kitchen to tell me their versions of the story. I asked who threw the first punch and how many were involved. They all eagerly told the story where Nick, tried to defend Matt and in doing so had to fight back at Joe the bully. I thanked them for the information and was happy that Nick had relayed the truth. As soon as Chris came home this evening, Nick relayed the story...blow by blow....(no pun intended) to his dad.

Chris: Was there blood?

Nick: No

Chris: (jokingly) Well then you didn't hit him hard enough.

Hopefully Joe has learned his lesson not to hit kids, but I'm sure he'll be back for more. Meanwhile, Nick feels a whole lot better. As he said to me tonight before he went to bed: Mom, this was the best day of my life! I'm sure it was Nick, I'm sure it was.


Michelle said...

Good job Nick!

This reminds me of the scene from A Christmas Story...have you seen that movie?

My husband had to deal with a bully as a kid. His dad taught him how to get low and bring him down. That bully was one of our groomsmen when we married (probably 20 years after the fight).

Grandma Mary said...

My Sweet Nick

Way to go NIck. I am proud of you. Your Dad is right. They hit you first, you defend yourself.

You dont want to grow up wimpy.

I will give that Joe 5 more years and you will hover over him. He will certainly respect you more or tremble when he sees you.

That child needs help Nick. All of you need to run him off until his parents get him some help.

I believe that he is at war with himself. There is some hurt inside of him Darling. Not all children have parents like you NIck, that are lovable, level headed and very close to their children.

You know what? Grandma and Grandpa love you too.

Bekah said...

Raising boys is tough. We've had to deal with a neighbor boy who likes to incite stuff by teasing and threatening. He would get our oldest all riled up, and then come to me and tattle on him. Finally we just forbid our kids to play with him, and if he was outside, they had to come inside. After a few months, we let them stay outside, as long as they didn't play with the kid. Soon we noticed that while the other kids played would play with this kid normally, when our's were out everyone was ignoring him. After about a year's time, and quite a few instances of the other boy begging and pleading to be able to play with our kids, we relented. While we still have occasional issues with this kid lying, we no longer have the teasing and tattling.

I hope there is resolution to your situation soon. Perhaps Joe will now rethink his bullying, knowing that someone is likely to stand up to him and he may end up on the worst end of it. Nick did well.

Georgie Tamayo Clemens said...


I have the exact same situation here with a young boy who lives across the street. Luckily, my boys are each other's best friends and it is always the "difficult" child who wants to play with them...then he'll tattle 15 gabillion times when he doesn't like what they are doing. It's easier to have my boys play with "easier" kids until they all mature a bit.

As far as Nick and Joe are concerned, I think things will be just fine. Nick got his dignity back and Joe is not the type to hold grudges for just one child. He just tends to move on to the next victim. Luckily, Joe lives about 7 doors down around the corner so we don't see him all that often.

Michelle...yes, I've seen that Christmas Story movie and the snowball scene in my front yard could have been a chapter in that movie...easy!! How awesome that "your" bully turned out so well. I hope for the same.