Hubs hates bullies. Essentially they are why he became a cop. I’m in complete agreement. There is no lower life form than someone who victimizes those who can’t defend themselves.
Hubs grew up in Massachusetts on the cusp of a tough neighborhood. Did you see The Fighter? That’s the neighborhood. Lowell. Or as the locals like to call it, Low Hell. Jack Kerouac lived there at one point. It has churned out many fighters, drug addicts and public servants–sometimes combinations of the three.
Hubs was a late bloomer with a quick temper and bright red hair growing up in a tough, working class neighborhood. You best believe that he had to fight on a regular basis. He became good at it. So good that some people were shocked when he became a cop and not a professional bouncer. His secret? God-given orneriness and a willingness to fight dirty. As Hubs has told me on more than a few occasions, sometimes you have to be willing to stick your finger in a guy’s nose or squeeze his testicle if things are looking bad. Many people aren’t will to do this. Hubs is.
I also grew up in a tough neighborhood but it was a tough neighborhood in Oregon. In between the fights and bullying we hugged trees under a cloud of patchouli oil. My mother was a bit of a hippie and my dad was hopelessly cerebral and fair-minded. I was raised to be strong but not aggressive.
Needless to say, Hubs and I have a very different approach to conflict resolution when it comes to bullies. Hubs is quick to label it as such and meet the problem head on with aggression. I’m more likely to take my time in labeling the situation and look for a diplomatic solution.
Here are some examples of actual conversations in our home:
Riley: Heather told me that I couldn’t wear my visor for Hat Day at school so I took it off.
Me: Honey, Heather might think she knows the rules but she’s not the one in charge. Only your teacher can tell you that. Sometimes your friends are wrong.
Hubs: You tell Heather, “Shut up and get away from me!”
Riley: But Dad, she’s my friend!
Hubs: She’s not your friend if she hurts your feelings. You tell her to shut up!
Riley: Conor hit me!
Me: Conor, you don’t hit. It’s not nice.
Hubs: You don’t hit girls. You can hit someone to defend yourself.
Conor: My friend punched me at school cuz he was mad.
Me: Why was he mad?
Conor: I ruined his tower.
Me: Did you say sorry?
Conor: Yeah, but he punched me anyway.
Hubs: You only have to say sorry once. If he hits you again, hit him back!
Riley: Sometimes the 3rd graders make us leave the lunch tables before we’re done.
Me: Tell one of the Yard Duty ladies or a teacher, sweetie.
Hubs: You let me know if someone is being mean to you and I’ll punch them in the nose.
I fully expect a call from the school at some point when one of the kids decides to try out Daddy’s advice. I’ve already let Hubs know that I’m referring that phone call straight to him.
And whereas I don’t think that any of these situations required quite the level of aggression for which Hubs was lobbying, I do understand his reaction. He’s protecting what is dear to him by teaching the kids to stick up for themselves and I think it’s a valuable lesson. I’ll just try to balance it out by teaching them diplomacy too. After all, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to your guns if someone is pushing you around, but it never hurts to stop and hug a tree either.
Because trees never bully. I’ve hugged enough to know.
This post was in support of findinggravity’s Anti-bullying campaign. Children shouldn’t be victimized because they’re different or just vulnerable–not by adults and not by other children.