The 4th Grade Bully

Someone ought to tell John Travolta I used to date Adele Mazeem. I’d say she was frigid but the cold never bothered her anyway.

That sort of silly and ridiculous comment is where I want my head to go except I am too angry to do so. Instead of making silly remarks about Vinnie Barbarino I am thinking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am thinking about Ali and Liston or  the 20-year-old version of Mike Tyson.

Mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Naga...


Because another kid hit my daughter and when you mess with my kids I think of shock and awe. Mushroom clouds, drones with Hellfire missiles and all sorts of other nifty toys like Brass Knuckles and switchblades.

I am mostly kidding.

What is A Father’s Responsibility?

If you have been reading along you already know I am not interested in encasing my kids in bubble wrap and that I want them to learn how to be self sufficient.

I am not one of those parents who automatically flips out about kids doing stupid things and the girl that hit my daughter did something dumb.

She hit her in the arm and told her she wanted to fight. My daughter told her she wasn’t afraid and told her she wrestles against her older brother and wins.

It is sort of true.

It doesn’t happen often but every now and then if he has been teasing her for too long she goes after him. I don’t know if she has figured out that he knows he is not allowed to touch her so he doesn’t he doesn’t really fight back.

She is not easily baited into these moments either but the few times he has managed to make her 9.5 going on 30 mind temper flare she has gone hard.

These moments have been few and far between but we have had conversations about this and they both know there are consequences for their actions.

But they also know that they have an obligation to protect themselves and that is where I find myself figuring it all out as I go. Because in my day you didn’t get expelled from school for fighting or threatening others.

You didn’t tell a teacher or parent about the bully. You stood up for yourself or life could be very uncomfortable. I am not saying that was the right way or the best way but it was what we did…then.

Now I look at my children and try to figure out how to teach them to protect and defend themselves.

The Other Girl

I wonder about the other girl. Wonder what sorts of problems she might be having and if she has realized that she is lucky my daughter told her she is not interested in fighting. If she managed to push her into a physical altercation it wouldn’t go well for her.

That is not what I want for my daughter. I want her to use her words. I want her to make it clear she won’t accept this. I told her I would help her and I did.

I brought their teacher into the loop. Sent her an email telling her what had happened and asked her to make sure this other girl understands this cannot happen again.

When my daughter went to sleep I made sure she knew about the email and told her that if this other girl bothers her she is to tell her to get lost and to walk away.

But I also told her she is not to be a punching bag and that she is allowed to defend herself. I reiterated that she needs to remove herself from the situation but if she can’t, smack that kid so hard she can’t see straight.

The Problem With Nuance

Ideally the teacher will be able to clear this up and that will be the end of it. I don’t want my daughter to get hurt and I don’t want her to hurt this other girl.

If push comes to shove and she has no choice she has my blessing to defend herself, but I worry about the 4th grade sense of nuance and understanding of knowing when to hold them, when to fold them and when to run.

Sometimes this parenting thing is really hard.

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  1. Larry March 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I can’t stand bullies.
    It sounds to me that you have it right in how you teach your children. Protect and don’t be a punching bag. It also sounds like your daughter handled the situation in a wise way.

    • Jack March 4, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Sometimes I miss having the kids in day school. My kids were terrified of the “Shalom Bayit” note and so were most of the others, so there were very few issues like this.

      Of course there were still issues, but…

  2. Gina March 3, 2014 at 5:20 am

    I hate bullies, and kids that pick on other kids. Had this a lot with Matt. He never had the “walk away” personality type and everything was personal to him (he was big, then small (due to late blooming), and now big again). We even talked about the troubles the “other” kid might be enduring. When he was a little high schooler, he learned to wrestle , which he used then and still to neutralize physical situations. Girls can be trickier though. You have a great relationship with her. Sounds like it’s under control (for now). Parenting is frustrating and challenging. And in some ways it gets easier, but mostly it gets harder. Hang in there!

    • Jack March 4, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Your comment about Matt taking things personally reminds me of my son. We have talked about how people just say/do things and they often have nothing to do with anyone else.

      But he hasn’t always bought into that and sometimes I have been told if I had been there I might see it differently.

      Could be true.

      Thing is up to now he has had relatively few disagreements, certainly far less than I did. When I was a kid I rarely had any problem telling you what I thought and or following up on it.

      But girls are so different from boys. I don’t always follow why she is upset or what happened because sometimes the damn story is so convoluted.

      This time it is very clear what happened but less clear as to how it is going to play out. If the kid listens to the teacher all will be fine, but…

  3. Stan Faryna March 3, 2014 at 3:52 am

    I’m was going to write if there’s no praying in school, there’s no need for Johnny to turn the other cheek either.

    Then a little bird flew in through a crack in the patio window to warm up. It’s snowing. So I spent a few minutes trying to explain to the bird that it was ok to warm up but I expected room and board for a month if this was going anywhere else.

    Actually, they teach Orthodox Christian ideas in Romanian public schools as a class, teachers can apply corporal punishment, and kids still solve things like how you and I did.

    • Jack March 4, 2014 at 12:21 am

      Did the bird pay up?

      Is there an official state religion in Romania?

      Most of the time I think it is better how they do things now, but every now and then I wonder if the old ways would help end this bad behavior much faster.

      • Stan Faryna March 4, 2014 at 12:50 am

        Romanian Orthodox Christian Church is the official state church.

        I’d like to think that we could be unerringly civilized, peaceful, helpful, compassionate and prosperous as humanism would lead us to believe. But humanism is merely a widely-accepted and unfounded conjecture as unadmittingly erroneous and almost impossible to live out as any spiritual discipline.

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