Was it Sartre or Fred Rogers who once said, “Hell is other people’s children”?

Another feature from the GingaHubs...

While coming out of my son’s school the other day, we left by a different exit because I had parked in a slightly different place. I had no ulterior motive in doing so; I was just there early and wanted to get one of those prime spots, close to the door and facing in the right direction so I could zoom out with my precious cargo. As we were walking, one boy approached my son and simply said, “You!” There could very well have been the “F” word there in front of that “you” (can I say the “F” word in this environment?) but I couldn’t say. I asked my son what the boy had said, and whether the boy was a friend, and he responded, “it’s nothing for us to worry about, Daddy.”

Suddenly I WAS worried and I inquired deeper into the situation. It turns out the other boy and the other boy’s friend, let’s call him Joseph, because that’s his real name, often pick on my son at playtime. (he also looked something like the image here):

I had heard of Joseph before. It was a bit before Christmas, and we were driving toward home, when my son pointed out the window and said, “That’s Joseph; he fights with me at playtime.” After asking what that meant, I learned that Joseph would kick or hit my son during the lunchtime of later afternoon playtimes. I called the school to see what was happened, was told Joseph didn’t have a reputation for acting that way, but they would keep an eye on it.

Assuming no news was good news, this new event startled me to say the least. It seems according to my son’s somewhat cottage-cheese recollection that Joseph and mate often seek out my son when he is alone. They do not always hit him; on occasion, they “do other naughty things … like kick me.”

I wrote to the head teacher this time, explaining my concern, but not asking for blood or discipline. I know my son, and realize that there is more than a smidgen of culpability on his part here. However, this Joseph and other are older boys, and so that has me doubly wary. My son “tells” as he has been taught to do. It may sound like we are raising a snitch, which we are to an extent, but when he fights back, he does so in a rather uncompromising way, having finally lost all patience with the party who has wronged him, and worst of all, in the full viewing audience of the other teachers. Rather than have that, we thought it best to let the authorities do their job. This morning, my son suggested that he could “kick him in the balls”, which is, in one sense, a fine idea, but I had to tell him that to do that would get him into a whole different arena of dirty fighting, one whose doors were better left closed forever.

So, it leaves me and my wife in an interesting dilemma. I realize that kids of both genders are the human equivalent of lizards: they are territorial, they are crafty, they are jealous, they are essentially evil, and they will go after one another with a force equaled only by nature herself (and yes, they tend to urinate in strange areas). Despite the fact that I know my son is involved somewhere, I am also surprised just by how much I want to smack this Joseph and Company around.

I completely feel like I am back in the playground myself, only now it’s payback time and I have, just by chance, been given a rare gift: I’m pissed (not in the English sense, but that could work too), I am big, and I am mean. This little shit has harmed one of mine and he will pay, not only for this crime but for anything and everything bad that has ever happened to me or to someone I love! I do realize that poor Joe and his mate have taken on the mantel of responsibility for things they are unlikely to understand for a long, long time. And so, I return to sanity.

I write a letter. I remain rational. I explain things as articulately as I can, hoping this problem will get resolved in a civilized manner, and I feel more than slightly disappointed with myself. I am the Lizard King, and all I have to offer my son are words, words, words (yes, Hamlet).

Well, the next day things did change. Teachers got involved, talked with the boys, who were aghast that they had done anything wrong (not buying that completely). It is one of their games to go out to the playground and shout rude things to one another; somehow, my son, who doesn’t always have a proper sense of other people’s space, got involved and remained involved until this week past. They would seek him out, in part, because he was a part – sometimes even spitting.

Now I feel even more pathetic, although I remain proud of my primal desire to smite those who harm mine. And yes, my son is on a bit of a power trip with telling – he even told on a friend who took his hat one day, something they were doing to one another and having fun, but suddenly at dinner, the other boy was bad.

So to sum up: all children are demons (and not those cool kinds of daemons from His Dark Materials or the movie The Golden Compass). They will drag you down to the depths of Hell, just because they want something fun to do. In short – they are the living embodiment of every mother’s curse that we will have to endure what we, ourselves, put our parents through. To paraphrase Robin William, performing as Mr. Rogers, I now need to take my medication, because “some days it’s the only way I can tolerate you little shits.”


Lindy said...

Aaw! I can't help but smile because I KNOW my day will come. Oooh I was a baaad kid. I hope your little shit didn't get into too much trouble once the truth came out.

AliBlahBlah said...

Like Lindy I enjoyed reading this, with a sense of Schadenfreude - only because it hasn't happened to us YET.

When I was growing up in the North of England, I think the correct phrase for a swift kick to the balls was 'kick him in the goolies' - if that's any help!!

Moondance said...

The kindegarten teacher called me at home (an odd choice becasue I work during the day at an office) one day to tell me my son had told his classmate "I'm gonna kill you" becasue said classmate sat on my son's backpack. She told me she had called the other boys parents and they woudln't be pressing charges. Did I mention he's 5?

Seriously, that's the kind of thing I woudl say to my teenage friends: "If you tell Bobby I like him, I'll kill you!" I realize the school has a zero tolerance policy, but I would have thought it would include applying judgement.

Now my son is a tattler too. He writes the names of the kids who are bad to him. I wonder if anyone is writing his name down?

flutter said...

demons. Ball kicking, f word spewing demons, straight from the fiery pits of hell, I say! *shakes fist*

mothergoosemouse said...

Mr. Ginga, I know you didn't intend to write a post filled with advice for me regarding raising boys, but that's exactly what you did.

I think I'll leave these matters to my own Mr., along with circumcision.

ozma said...

I think Sartre said "hell is other people's children" and Mr. Rogers said "hell is for children." Or maybe that was Joan Jett.

I think tattling is something every kid needs to learn. But now you've made me realize how complicated it is. When is it whistle blowing and when is it snitching. I think people err on the side of thinking it is snitching but in fact the world actually needs more whistle blowers (or at least the CIA needs them).

neva said...

Parenting is Hell. never more so than when you so want to teach your children the meaning of "compassion" and tolerance, even as you smite those who would stab your kid in the back.

i used to tell my sons to kick back if anyone messed with their sorry asses. mind you, i always said "don't start anything, but hey, if someone else tries to hurt you, by golly, hurt 'em back". my boys are such wimps, they never did confront the various bullies they were forced to contend with -- still, i think they liked the idea that, if push/punch/kick came to shove/poke/smack, they had our blessings to "stand" up for themselves (as opposed to "turning the other cheek")

that said, our biggest "face off" came the day our youngest son's 5th grade TEACHER derided our boy in the middle of class. talk about drama and/or potential lawsuits. (another story for another day) ; )

Redneck Mommy said...

Oh, I have so been there.

Except you exercised way more restraint than I did...A little girl was practicing her demonic puppet skills on my daughter and I threatened to lock her in a locker and forget about her if she persisted.

It was wrong.

But it felt soooo right.

abritdifferent said...

Hello! Thanks for visiting. I have 3 Nigella books, but that isn't one of them - awesome.

I totally loved reading this, in fact I'm pretty riled up, ready to kick any arse that gets out-of-line or in my way! I was picked on (not frequently, but let's call it "consistently occasionally" as a wee one and I feel the same vengeance and retribution you mentioned:

"...he will pay, not only for this crime but for anything and everything bad that has ever happened to me..." That cracked me up no end.

"Goolies"? How about bollocks? That's a great British term.

Thanks for visiting, I love your style of writing, I'll definitely be back.

Expatmum said...

Hi there. Blimey, I wouldn't like to be the first girl who breaks his heart then. She's dead meat, as they say!

Eleanor said...

Come on... you must have a been a little proud... Beaming inside to know that Son is, in fact, a cunning young communicator who knows how to work you (and you are, like, how much older?) AND that he is smart enough to be on the right side of the fight in the playground. Because, let's face it, spitting is definitely the right side as opposed to being spat at. (I'd imagine... I was always a spitter).

Roland Hulme said...

I used to get picked on at school for my ginger hair. It was miserable - until a 'peice of rough' boyfriend of my sisters taught me some fighting moves and when I next got bullied, I pummelled the offender.

I got pummelled back - but once they saw I was willing to hurt them, the bullies steered clear of me.

Anybody who doesn't believe in Darwinism and survival of the fittest was clearly never a posh ginger public schoolboy at a rough comprehensive.

Ginga's Hubby said...

Many thanks for the responses; it seems all has worked out fine, although now Son#1 complains if the boys do not say hello to him at every playtime. Eventually, I just want to teach my kids to say, a la "Dad Gone Mad": "I'm gonna blog your ass, mother fucker!"

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