Blog Your Blessings: One Swift Kick


For the length of a family Christmas party, a first-grade boy wears a hard plastic Rudolph nose that lights up.

At the end of the evening, an older cousin says to him with a laugh, "Sorry, but I just have to do this," and plucks the nose away from the little boy's face and snaps it.

To say "ouch" would be to say the least.

"No problem," the first-grader responds. "I just have to do this!" And he delivers a swift kick straight into the shin of the older boy.

End of conversation. "Nobody chastised A---," his father later says with a smile of pride. [I have deleted my nephew's name to protect the proactive, of course.]

Damn right they didn't, I think to myself, and I smile and laugh out loud, too. That swift kick said it all. I am an indulgent aunt; this child can do no wrong in my eyes. Nosireebob, he is perfect in every way.

Yet he assaulted a child who was only having a bit of fun at Christmas.

Right?

Isn't that right, Sandy? You do, after all, teach kids many of whom spend more time with their parole officers than with you precisely because they cannot control their anger. Your students sometimes leave school in manacles because they forget to use their words when they are angry and resort to physical violence, instead. They forget justice is a way of thinking rather than a way of behaving nowadays. What, oh what, will become of a nephew who takes justice in his own hands?

I think he will accompany my daughter when she goes out on dates. He will keep an eye on her husband one day. He will keep his aunt safe so she doesn't have to put bars on the windows someday.

He will perhaps grow up to wear adult-sized Marine fatigues not unlike the junior version he prefers to all his other pants. He will perhaps put his prompt thinking, his respect for fair play, and his refusal to tolerate abuse to good work for the good of the rest of us someday.

Right now I am grateful he takes care of himself, that he knows he is worthy of respect. And the next time some older kid tries to mess with him, the older kid will do well to remember what his first-grade teacher should have told him--"Use your words, dear."

Tonight, though, I'm going to sleep well knowing my nephew is in this world. The world needs this little man of action!

PS No sooner did I draft this than I read this: If we ever, God forbid, manage to make each child succeed with his peer group, we will produce a race of bland and faceless nonentities, and all poetry and mystery will vanish from the face of the earth. Somehow I am not worried. Surely every teacher must want each child to succeed...must hope to help him find a self, but this self must be a nonconforming self. And surely there will always be the occasional prickly child who rejects all efforts, who kicks the other children, bites teacher's hands, is unloving and unlovable, and yet who will, one day--perhaps out of this very unloveliness--create a work of art which sings of love. Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet)

Blog Your Blessings

Comments

  1. it's a fine line between valuing self with a bully and becoming one. sounds like this little fellow is going to be okay. i admire your ability to teach and value your society challenged students. go for it.

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  2. I'm going to sound very childish here, but: he didn't start it.
    THAT is the point. Good on him!

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  3. What an interesting read ... and oh it bring back some horrible memories of being bullied! I am on your nephew side, as he only protected himself. He won't be a bully and he won't tolerate being abused by one ... yes, Aunt Sandy, the world will be safer with him aboard. And believe you me, he won't have any problem with "peer pressure"!

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  4. That was very interesting. I agree with Amias. Good for your nephew to be able to stick up for himself.

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  5. Madeleine is pure magic--what a wonderful quote. And how amazing and eerie to find it just as you shared this story! Your nephew's quite a character; I hope he never changes.

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful holiday story!

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  6. Gotta be able to take care of yourself before you can be expected to take care of anyone else.

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  7. I think your nephew did what he had to do. And if the other boy decides to try something like this again, I hope he walks away talking in a higher voice.

    So much for you thinking I'm such a loving person, but this is tough love.

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  8. Very good of the little guy! Bravo!

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  9. Anonymous8:40 PM

    You betcha thats my grandson

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  10. Kids will be kids! Sandy Lend me your ear I have a award for you (Click Here)

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  11. Love your post - and especially the quote at the end! You can't fight all of their battles for them - so many are taught these days that the world is a place where everyone gets a turn and no one ever loses. That is far from reality and those poor kids will get a swift kick themselves when they grow up and find out people protected them too much and meanwhile there were many others who were not protected nearly enough.

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  12. That was wonderful. Your nephew sounds like a young man I'd love to know.

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  13. A very nice holiday story. And your words are so true, Sandy: Right now I am grateful he takes care of himself, that he knows he is worthy of respect..

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  14. Anonymous4:44 AM

    That's great! Your nephew learned the power of a kick on a bully, and that there are limits to that power. And, alas, another Dick Cheney was created as the bully received the kick. Because nature abhors a vacuum.

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  15. He responded appropritely, and it was all in fun.. the older kid had a laugh with the nose and we're all laughing at the swift kick.. aren't we? I know I am!

    That grin won't let itself be disguised, that child doesn't carry a grudge against the world, he can handle it.

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  16. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Way to go, little A...Lots of people in this world could do with a good, swift kick.

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  17. I think the first grader was smart to think so quickly and put the older child in his place. Way to go little guy. Christmas fun should not involve pain and the older child should have been taught that early like say the first grade.

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  18. sounds like you see the "heart" while some others of us get hung up on "facts" and appearances, and misguided "one-size-fits-all" rules. You nephew is lucky to have such an aunt; but tell me, Sandy: how do you produce more than one quality blog!!!????

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  19. There is a time for everything under the sun . . .

    I have my BYB post up today and will be back to read and comment on the week of posts I missed from your blog. Hopefully, I am back up and running again.

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  20. I'd say it's okay too... because the response was considered and measured. ...and yeah, we do need a bit of an established "pecking order"... because yeah, not all of us need to be the best quarterback in the world. Excellent post!

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  21. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Very good post, and goodly he stuck up for himself! :)

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  22. Like always - a great post!!!

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  23. Happy New Year! Great story!

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  24. Sandy, loved your post. I see the fairness in what happened and A. should never be punished for taking care of himself when being bullied. Glad the older one got the worst of the physical pain but am sure that it upset A for his "nose" to be broken. Often emotional pain is so much deeper and last many times over the physical pain.

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  25. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Lovely sharing ... and so appropriate on many levels. Balance is an essential component of life with ourselves and others and lessons learned in childhood remain with us forever. I believe children can be teachers for us all. They can remind adults of important lessons we've lost sight of in a world where we're encouraged to be 'politically correct' ... all too often at the expense of common sense. Thank you for this blessing.
    Hugs and blessings,

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