Speaking of being over-protective:
My son came walking across the bridge the other day exactly when I'd asked him to so that we could get out the door for an appointment. I shouted down from the deck that it was time to go and he should get a clean shirt on, and when he looked up at me I saw that he was almost but not quite crying.
He came upstairs and we sat down together and I asked what was wrong. He said that Older Liam had called him 'kid who plays with Barbies' in front of all the older kids. And then the tears came a'pouring down.
Older Liam lives across the street. Older Liam used to come over for sleepovers and dinners last year, but then he hit grade 4 or 5 or whatever he's in and decided it was high time to become an asshole. He doesn't come over anymore. One of his little thugsta' friends lives in our neighborhood and so he's around occasionally, riding his skateboard with all of our neighbor kids. He's a jerk, but a harmless jerk, and I don't worry about him too much because he knows that I have his mom's digits, so if I tell him to knock it off already, he usually listens.
He does, however, like to pick at my 2of3. Most thugsta's do. He's kind of easy pickings.
I have countless times had the talk with 2of3 about how some people have brown clouds around them (not to be confused with brain clouds, which are incurable except by long rides at sea on luggage and sex with Meg Ryan) and some people have rays of sunlight around them, and the people with brown clouds like to block out the sunshine, so it's best to just keep your sunshine as far away from them as you can. I have countless times told him that the only way he's going to get Older Liam to get off his back is to stop caring, that when he reacts, he makes Older Liam act more. I've explained to him a bazillion times that people who call names do so because they don't have any better weapons in their arsenal, and that smart people have much better ones, like intelligence. Like the ability to laugh at stupidity and walk away from it. Like the ability to look over their shoulder and say, "It must really suck to be so obtuse" and then go somewhere else. Because god knows, the nany-nany-boo-boo kids have no fucking clue what Obtuse means and the most fun way to stop an asshole in his tracks is to make him think for a second.
I'd much rather have an intellectual snob for a kid than a bully. Personal preference.
I decided when I saw 2of3 crying for the upteenth time over something Older Liam did that it was time for me to stop coaching and start fixing. So I got my shoes on and off we went.
I always bring him with me when I have to put out his fires. When he got mugged at the bus stop and the school did nothing to fix it, I let him stand right next to me when I found the kids who did it and scared them so bad one almost peed in his pants and the rest started out all, "Whatever, bitch" and ended up all, "Sorry, ma'am" because I want him to see that I will protect him, and I want him to see how to stand up to a jerk. Because god knows, no one ever showed me how to do it. So he and I started walking across the bridge together to go find Older Liam and Let. Him. Have. It. when I paused for just a second, thought really hard about what I was about to do, and for whom, and then asked him, "Dude, how about you tell me the whole story before I go do this."
He swore he had.
I glared at him.
He said No, really.
I said he better start in with the whole truth.
He sighed and said okay.
And then he told me his whole story about how some little "chubby" girl was riding her bike and Older Liam was making fun of her because she was wobbling on it and that he told Older Liam to stop teasing her and then Older Liam told him to shut up, kid who plays with Barbies, right in front of everyone.
Fair enough; time to put and end to this once and for-all. After much ado we found Older Liam across the street at the tennis courts with, you guessed it, Kid Who Mugged 2of3 Last Year. That explains a lot. So I call Older Liam over and he came over and I said, "Dude, you see that neighborhood right there (points to mine)? 2of3 lives there, you don't. You cannot come into his neighborhood and call him names and make him cry. Go find somewhere else to play from now on." And he starts in with the whole But he's and the I didn't's and I put my hand up and said, "Stop. I know what happened and you're not talking your way out of this one. This is our home. You can't play here anymore." And then he said, "But he chased me with a skateboard."
Enter the slow, painful glare of death towards my son.
You. Did. What?
No I didn't, mawwwwwm! Yes you did, 2of3! Nah uh! Uh huh!
And then Older Liam told me his whole story. That he'd been teasing the chubby girl on her bike and 2of3 told him to stop and he told him to shut up, kid who plays with barbies and then 2of3 came at him. With a skateboard.
Enter blue-screened, Matrix style head explosion.
And that's when I let 2of3 have it. Right in front of Older Liam, right in front of Kid Who Mugged Him at the Bus Stop, right in front of every neighborhood kid, because god knows they'd all gathered around to watch the mom get all up in the thugsta's grill. I may or may not have rather loudly informed him that I didn't appreciate being made to look like a asshole in a public forum, I may or may not have reminded him that dirty little self-serving liars get grounded until they go to military camp, I may or may not have had my finest parenting moment ever in front of a suburban tennis court.
I may or may not have over reacted slightly.
The other kids from our neighborhood chimed in that, in fact, Older Liam had initiated the whole thing and that he's always mean to 2of3 and that he totally had it coming. They backed their little dirty liar of a buddy up and said that Older Liam was the instigator, and that 2of3 was just standing up for himself the best he could. I don't think they much like Older Liam. So I turned back to Older Liam and said that I was sorry, that I thought I'd had the whole story, but that now that I do my argument still stands, that he just can't get along with 2of3 and since 2of3 lives here and he doesn't, he needed to find somewhere else to play from now on. He said okay with a very, very demonstrative eye roll.
And for the better part of the rest of this week, I am on possession of one shiny Nintendo DS that my kid can't so much as breath on. And I'm thinking it's high time I start following my own advice and letting him sink or swim all by himself.
Speaking of being over-protective: