The Belaval-Diaz kids were taught to talk it out; whatever it was, could be solved through dialogue. Like the good Catholics Mami and Papi are, they raised their kids to always "turn the other cheek." As a girl, that worked very well, but even my parents agree that my brother Mario would have been better served if they taught him to answer back a punch with a punch. Mario was a smart, non athletic, short boy who ended up in a garbage can a couple of times, courtesy of the class bully who ironically had his same name. Eventually, my brother became friends with other tall and quick-to -hit boys and his problem was solved. For Mario's sake--I should say he was a very popular, handsome, friendly guy both in high school and college, but he would agree that grade school sucked.
For this reason, my brother and I want our daughters to be able to defend themselves from life's many as..., I mean bullies. I've taught Amelia that you don't hit anyone, that if she's frustrated, she has to tell that person or leave the situation. But what I'm really thinking is "unless someone throws the first punch at you." The school teachers reinforce that , "God did not make our hands to hit." In theory, this is exactly what I want my little girl to learn. In practice, at the park last week, I was ready to punch the 6 year old boy who kept pushing and shoving my daughter and telling her to "go home". He was also pushing and yelling at his little sister.
I saw Amelia return a few pushes before she came to me.
"Mama, that boy is mean. He keeps pushing me."
"Some kids are like that Amelia, just don't play with him," I replied as I quickly turn into my mother.
Amelia went to play with this boy's sister, but "big brother" kept taunting them. There was no supervision in sight for this boy except for me.
"Listen, stop pushing the girls and go home," I told the park bully.
A voice yelled for the boy and his sister,
"LET"S GO!" said the nanny who had been MIA while the kids were rough housing. (see, I'm turning into my parents)
Amelia moved on to play with other children oblivious about my conflict over what happened. I have to admit, I was proud that Amelia got some pushing back done before doing as she was told and going to tell an adult what was going on. I don't want my girl to be the one who initiates the physical contact, but I don't want her to be the kid whose idealistic parents told her that playground bullies can be tamed with loving words from a peer. I also don't want to be the parent who yells at other people's kids, unless I really have to. I took on bullies when I was a kid myself and I'm not afraid to take them on now. Ay Mama!