There was an article that went around last year, written by my friend Ashley Fuchs, called “The Reason My Daughter May Punch Your Son.” When I read the article, my daughter was in kindergarten. In my mind, she was years away from this kind of harassment, so I read it, and I shared it, but I didn’t internalize it the way some of my fellow parents did. Because I thought I had more time.
Turns out, my time is up.
“Mom, I got bullied today,” she said as we walked home from school.
“Bullied?” I questioned. I don’t like the word. I think it’s sometimes overused and thrown around, and I have a hard time thinking that my sassy, very independent little girl could possibly be bullied, so I questioned her a little. She tends to be dramatic, always has, and by the time we got home, she said some boys were chasing her on the playground. I told her not to play with them anymore if they bugged her, and that was that. We went on with our day.
Fast forward to dinner where she brought it up again. We always go through our highs and our lows of the day, and when it was her turn to voice her low, she said, “Some boys bullied me today.” Since this was the second time she brought it up, I probed harder.
“Tell me exactly what happened,” I said. She went on to say that some boys were hitting her butt on the playground, and when she told them to stop, they called her chubby and laughed at her.
That’s right. Two boys put their hands on my daughter, and when she told them to stop, they called her fat and made fun of her. Let that sink in for a second.
Want to know where they learned that? I have an idea. I bet you do too.
Rage boiled inside of me, but I squelched it and asked her what she did next. She said she told the teacher, and the teacher told them to stop, but they didn’t.
The more I listened, the angrier I got.
She showed me on my own butt what they were doing, and it can only be described as groping, but she didn’t understand that.
BECAUSE SHE IS 6!
We discussed how inappropriate and unacceptable it was/is, and I commended her for doing the right thing by telling the teacher.
She put her head down and said, “Tomorrow, I’m just going to hide at recess.”
I pulled her into me and lifted her chin up so she could look me in the eye, and I said, “NO. You will not let two boys ruin your free time. You will not allow them to take your fun away. They are breaking the rules. If they do that tomorrow, you say ‘Keep your hands off of me.’ If they do not stop, you tell the teacher. If they continue to bother you, you turn around and step on their feet, or kick them in the shins or their balls, and if you get in trouble, go ahead and tell your teacher to give me a call.”
I explained that she might end up in the principal’s office and that we would deal with it if we had to, but I made sure she knew that she was empowered to defend herself.
Our boys are learning from us. It is not innate that when a girl says no, they immediately go to calling her fat or ugly. This is learned behavior. Your job as a mother and as a father is to make sure your sons (and daughters) know better. I can tell you that if I learned that my son had touched a girl the way these boys touched my daughter, or spoke to another child the way they did, there would be some serious consequences at our home. He knows better. He’s been taught to respect all people, all women, your daughters, so if he steps out of line there, I want to know.
Parents, teach your sons (and daughters) that they are not entitled to touch anyone anywhere, that my daughter’s back side is not for their hands, that if they do put their hands on my child, they will not get away with it because she will defend herself the best way she can. And that may include kicking your son right in the balls.