My son was punched on the playground today. I suppose if you are a boy and you spend enough time on a playground, you are going to get punched sooner or later. I suppose.
I have to admit I'm not really in-the-know about boys and playgrounds. Growing up I had no brothers, no male cousins nearby, no little boy neighbors. My only Grandpa was very old and sickly and my uncles lived far away. Although my dad was very present and influential during my childhood, he grew up with a single mom and two sisters. Which made him very, very good at going with the flow around a bunch of headstrong women. And so I'm clueless regarding punching protocol.
At home, I've handled it different ways. Sometimes I have actually told one kid that they could hit the other kid back--just as hard, but not harder. (And of course they follow this rule fairly!) This is usually after one child has gone through a hitting phase and I think repayment-in-kind is called for. Most of the time, however, I tell the kids not to retaliate because the second sinner is usually caught first.
So what do I tell a 10 year old boy who is equally fearful of getting in trouble for fighting at school and looking like a wimp in front of the guys? I told him he needed to learn to punch so that next time he could hit back. I immediately regretted saying that. I had just given my son permission to be the "second sinner." Contradicting yourself as a parent is really, really close to being hypocritical and if my son were just a couple years older, he would've called me on it.
I'm lucky enough to have a Manly Man Dad friend who willingly shares his guy wisdom with me. I learned I was half right. The trick, Manly Man Dad explained, is knowing when hitting back is the right thing to do. Good advice. Now, how do you know when is the right time? School, he agreed, probably isn't the right time or place to hit back. If it's one punch, walk away and tell someone. On the other hand, if you think it's gonna be a brawl, by all means, defend yourself.
What do you know, sometimes Man-speak actually makes sense. Guess I'll have to add that rule to my How to Raise a Boy Manual, which is quickly getting filled with pretty common sense stuff. Stuff that is much easier to explain, understand and practice than the How to Help Your Daughter Through Caddy, Petty, Snooty, Gossip and other Mean Girl Behavior Manual. I guess this is understandable considering that by now, my son has already all but forgotten the incident. His sister, however, is still fuming and plotting revenge.
That playground bully better watch it. My daughter may just decide a repayment-in-kind is called for.