Curtis has been having a hard time with a kid at school. He’s tried to avoid him for the last few weeks because of teasing, name calling, and threats. To Curti’s credit, he’s ignored most of it. So I was pretty surprised when I got a call yesterday that Curtis had to go see the principal because he’d been in a fight and the other parents want to press charges.
I’ve been there and it’s no fun to be bullied. I used to try and make friends with my bullies…sometimes it even worked. One of my worst bullies in 4th grade ended up being one of my good friends through High School. In 9th grade (I was still short and an easy target), I gave a kid that used to push me around a Snickers bar. He went from bullying me to protecting me. We never talked and weren’t really friends, but if he was walking by and somebody was bothering me he’d put an instant stop to it. I felt like I had a personal bodyguard, it was great! But it didn’t always work. Once while trying to befriend one, he took a quick swing and hit me in the jaw. There was a lot of blood and my face was swollen for weeks. Twice I got hit in the face and never fought back. I go back and forth as to which is better. Sometimes I’m glad I didn’t, other times I wish I would have…
So I can’t blame Curtis. The other day on the way home the harassment was upped a notch and the other kid said he was going to beat Curtis up when they got off the bus. Curtis said he tried to hurry home but the kid came after him and threw down his backpack. There were other boys around egging them on, which made it worse, so when the kid came in close Curtis hit him in the face. The kid jumped on him and they were wrestling on the ground when the kid’s mom came and put a stop to it all.
If you know Curtis, you know how absurd this story is. He’s a good kid; polite, considerate, and not at all a violent person or a trouble maker. He’s still short (like I was) and smart (again, like I was…I mean ‘am’…haha) and so can be an apparent easy target when somebody wants to pick a fight. But he’s got the heart of a tiger and, like me, will do whatever it takes once backed into a corner.
Initially, because Curtis threw the first punch and the other boy’s mom broke up the fight, Curtis is the one that got in trouble. But after hearing both sides of the story and the added fury of another set of parents, the principal said there are no grounds to press charges. It’s interesting though. School bullying is a huge problem and I find it strange that someone who finally stands up to it is the one to get in trouble. But I know there are two sides to every story and I don’t have the complete picture. I know it’s easy for parents to get trapped in denial and turn a blind eye to issues with their children. I think I’m being objective here…but I guess that’s the trap.
From how I understand the situation, I can’t blame Curtis for what he did. I don’t think he did anything wrong. A part of me is even proud that he stood up for himself. At the same time, I don’t agree with violence as a solution. I suppose the bottom line is that he’s my son and no matter what he does I’d be right there in his corner to support and help. I’m going to love and stand behind him regardless. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to accept responsibility. Whatever the punishment the school may levy on this he will have to face. But at least he won’t have to face it alone…I’ll be there with him. That’s one thing I hope I’ve been able to burn into my kids minds. They can count on me to be there when they have problems. Not to bail them out, but to love and support them through their difficult times. There are good lessons for Curtis on all of this and I want to both protect him and let life teach him. It can be tricky to know where to draw the line.