Mama bear came OUT the other day.
While I can talk peace and negotiations on almost all issues...when someone physically and emotionally harms my kid and gets away with it? I see red.
So when my teen son comes home and says a kid physically "bullied" him unprovoked, and I see the wounded pride and fear in his eyes, my mind scrambles any intelligent advice I should give.
Thank God this parenting thing is a two person gig around here.
Because, while I hadn't really had much experience with being physically bullied, my husband had. And he knew the feelings and the mindset of both the bully and the bullied. He also knew that our son, who has had an extremely tough year, was at a crossroads. We'd seen a confident young man allow image, insecurity, and meanness steal his joy and his love of being a kid. Eighth grade has been awful around here...just as it was for me. And my heart has been hurting for my son for a very long time. My husband told me that our son would have to stand up for himself if he had any chance at getting past his extremely large internal hurdle. But what did that look like? I didn't know.
The next morning, fully prepared to storm into the principal's office if my son so happened to defend himself (as I shamefully advised in my effort to "equip" my son), I overheard my husband prepping him before the bus arrived.
"Be confident. Even if you're scared to death inside, be confident. Stare the guy in the eye when you see him. Don't let him see you scared. Be prepared to defend yourself, and don't let him intimidate you."
Most of all, my son left the house knowing that if it came to it, he had full permission to defend himself, and his parents were on his side.
That afternoon, my same son, who had admitted to leaving class early the day before to avoid more confrontation with the bully, informed us of his newest encounter.
And he didn't hide this time. He stood tall, and did his best to exude confidence.
When the bully said he was going to fight him after school, my son said,
"Fine."In class, my son stared the dude down (I can imagine the look as he often gives it to his younger brothers...scary)! And just as his father told him, my son used his mind before his fists and had a very tall, bulky friend stick by his side after school. The bell rang, and they waited around in the hallway-- the bully and his friends on one side and my son and a friend on the other side. Waiting. Probably wondering...probably fighting away nerves inside.
Finally, my son looked the bully in the eye once more and said,
"So, are you going to fight me?"
And you know what happened?
The bully walked away. THE BULLY WALKED AWAY!
After my son's glorious retelling, I don't think I've ever seen my husband so stunned, my son so at peace, and I've never felt so dang proud of both my son and my husband.
Mind Games won. Even if my son shrunk into the corner the day before, he went to school with a new weapon: CONFIDENCE. And while my son was ready to defend himself (with our permission...sorry if you don't agree) and he used back up...knowing he would be defended by his extremely kind friend who said he would...it never came to that.
IT came down to a bully wanting a wimp to dump on his brokenness and frustration with life, and what he got was a no-nonsense, get-what-you-asked-for response from my son.
Thanks to my husband who knew the mind games needed, and kudos to my son who FINALLY listened to his father!