Saturday, September 22, 2007

Conflict

Your valued opinion, please?

Last night, when the husband and I returned home after Date Night, we found Elder Son zoned out in front of the TV and Younger Son wandering the halls of our home breathing heavy, trying not to cry.

"What's the matter, honey?"
"Big kid was pushing other kids at Runescape."

After some questioning (Younger Son has a tendency to turn away and mutter when he feels bad, Elder Son was trying to escape reality by focusing on cartoons), this is what we could gather:
A group of kids at Runescape had formed an alliance of some sort to gang up on other players of the game. Things got heated inside the library, and by the time the club exited the building, at least one boy (an 11-year-old) was upset enough to physically shove any players he thought were on "the other side."
He thought my kids were on the other side.

Younger Son showed us his injuries. He had scrapes on 3 of his 4 limbs.
He looked as if he had wiped out on his bike. Really.

As I cleaned him up and bandaged what needed more than a kiss, I said, "So, he just shoved you down? You're mostly just scared?"
"I was more scared for Elder Son than for myself!"
"Why?"
"Because when I told him what the other kid had done, he went back after him!"
"Elder Son went back to beat up the other kid?"
"Yeah."

So.
Now I'm sitting here.
Appalled that:
1) some kid was physically assaulting other kids,
2) there were no adults... anywhere... to stop it (but I can't fault anyone much as I was not there either to tend my own children),
3) my kid may have physically assaulted another kid, and
4) *sigh* I was kinda proud that he stood up for his little brother.

I'm conflicted.
Do I hate that my boy got in a fight?
Or, do I want to hug him for defending his brother?

I guess, technically, since the altercation was finished by the time Elder Son went back for vengence, he wasn't technically defending anyone anymore.
I sure don't want him to hurt anyone, yet, at what point can't you just walk away?

Anyone care to chime in?

(I do plan to speak with the library director, ask what happened, and ask if there are any plans to avoid problems in the future. I'm pretty sure that the librarian in charge last night had no clue there was a scuffle outside, as she was most likely closing up shop and exiting out another door.
Personally, I'd like to see kids ejected from the building as soon as they start "getting heated" during the game. If needed, I'll volunteer to monitor the exterior of the building as the club members leave.)

***update***
I have learned now from the husband that we are not sure whether or not Elder Son actually got physical with the other kid. There may have only been words exchanged, a "leave-my-brother-alone" warning.
We don't know.

9 comments:

Teresa said...

My opinion FWIW... put the boys in martial arts classes with a good instructor who understands how to teach kids.

This incident is over - you need to look to the future. Basically they need to learn the following:

1- walk with confidence. Others do not assault those who walk confidently (fact of life) this will do your younger son a world of good.

2- when to fight. that's a difficult concept for kids to learn. Sometimes you have to stand your ground, other times you walk away. Much depends on the situation and they need to learn this - it takes time. If you are confident though, it's much easier to walk away from a fight.

3- how to fight. This is as important as when to fight. Especially learning how to fall so you don't get hurt when you're surprised by an attack.

I must stress that the instructor needs to be very good at conveying the need for "learning how to fight so you don't have to fight". This is not something to learn so they can show off or beat up other kids when they're ticked.

There's more - but this is the gist of it. Unfortunately, while it's admirable that your older son went after the other kid - that's something which will land him in trouble (even if he's right). Tell him you're very proud of him for wanting to protect his brother, but going after someone for revenge will get him into trouble with the law.

So the best thing to do is to find someone good to teach both boys how to defend themselves... with the ultimate goal of them not having to.

(yes I have earned a black belt in tae kwon do - although it was quite a while back)

Roses said...

Teresa: ::nodding head enthusiastically::
That same thought crossed my mind last night. For the same reasons you explained. Thank you.

Priscilla said...

I raised a handful of boys, only three but it felt like more. Boys are much more physical than girls. (she hurt my feelings)Boys settle their differences that way, period.

As a parent it is my job to raise them to be responsible adults. Adults do not duke it out when they don't like something. We're raising adults, not children. (although I don't think boys ever really grow up)

When any number of boys are gathered, there should be at least one responsible parent or adult around. You know, because stuff like this will happen.

It's a good place to start talking about responsible behavior. Stuff like this is going to happen from time to time.

Don't beat yourself up. You're a great mommy trying to do her best with these little heathens.

HapKiDo said...

Teresa made some excellent points. T won't expand on them other than saying if they're going to take a martial art, find an instructor who focuses on self-defense. I recommend the following: Jeet Kun Do & Arnis. I don't recommend Hapkido because they're simply not old enough for it (15, at least).

I'm 2nd degree in TKD & can tell you that many schools focus on sparring - which is really a game of "tag" with your feet. It has value but not directly for self-defense.

I think your 12-year old did the right thing in showing that his younger brother wasn't an easy target. I'd say the hug is in order for sticking up for his brother & caution him about violence tending to escalate.

When you can't walk away? Ah, that's a tough one. The answer is: it depends. Every situation is different. You may have a clean escape for yourself but what if you're with a friend, younger brother, etc? No easy answer there.

Definitely need to get at least two adults out there. I'm assuming they get out of there late enough that it will be dark later in the year & that's not a good place to leave kids alone. Besides, an escorting adult is always a good idea.

I hope that helps.

Jessie said...

Okay, I'm coming at this differently it seems. I have a younger brother (8 years actually), and when he was in second grade (so about 10, really) a teenage boy my age bullied him. Personally speaking, no one bothers my baby brother. No one. The Pope would get his butt kicked for it. He was about 4'7-4'8, fully muscular, but not very big if someone were to come after him. So I made the decision to beat the other kid up. Why? Because if someone targets him, that means they're too cowardly to face someone their own age. Therefore, it was my turn to play. I found out about it after the fact, by the way. I still made his feet fly above his head for bother my little bro. At around 17, he should have known better, and if he didn't. Well. I taught him. Please note that I had also dated and dumped him prior to this, but the actions had nothing to do with it. My quickest trigger is watching people beat up the weaker.

So, in my opinon, I'd tell your oldest that it was great to defend his little brother, especially when he was obviously a target, but it might be better to know the opponent first. Watch the opponent. Let the other person know you're watching, and if he does it again, then there will a price to be paid. I'm also a very vengeful person. So, take that into consideration. But if your younger can't defend himself properly yet, it's kinda the older sibling's duty to make sure he's okay. Family takes care of its own. You can't always walk away. And I think this was one of those situations. Because the younger would always be a target if someone hadn't let it be known it's not on. Especially if they attend school or functions together. If more than one adult isn't around, then it's kind of "you're on your own" deal.

My little brother learned that someone when was truly bothering him, I had his back and would make it my business. Even if it meant talking with a parent. Or making sure that I was more intimidating than the bully. And as he grew up, he realized that his baseball training gave him the ability to be faster and stronger. And he became more and more secure that he could handle defending himself. I was transitioned out slowly, and I was glad for it. Because his confidence growing was all I wanted from the beginning. I simply understood that I'd have to be an enforcer until that happened. Now, he's about 5'7, still growing like a weed, and pure muscle. He's 17, and already has a four pack on the way. He doesn't play ball all the time, but still practices as an exercise routine so he can work with another sister doing landscaping on weekends. Plus, it's a stress reliever.

Again, just my opinion, for what it's worth.

Mrs. Who said...

As a teacher, I have seen students over the years get into scuffles because their parents said, "If anyone ever hits you, you hit back." I tell them that as long as an adult is around, then they tell the adult instead of hitting. Personal opinion: If there is no adult, then kids need to defend each other and themselves. Big brother may have kept little brother from being hassled later...

Richmond said...

I think it's great that big bro stood up for little bro - we can't always be there and the world is niether fair nor cushiony all the time. Be proud.

(And hey - FWIW, I know of a good Tae Kwon Do teacher. Just let me kno...)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Teresa 100%.

Tammi

Roses said...

Everyone: Thank you for your input!