It seems like only yesterday that I was making decisions about breast vs. bottle, cloth vs. disposable, when to start potty training, sleep training, and how to effectively discipline my first child. But now she is in the seventh grade, and the ante has been upped.
Twelve is such a fascinating age, with a wide range of behavior: While my daughter dreams she is in a Harry Potter movie and still plays with dolls, some of her classmates are dating and becoming sexually active (yes, they are, whether we want to admit it or not). I am lucky that my kid tells me lots of stories about her day and asks me questions about the things that worry her. I have done my best to field these questions realistically and honestly.
Yesterday she told me that a boy snapped a girl’s bra in her class, and she asked what should she do if that happens to her. I weighed my response carefully. I could have given her several answers, but I decided to give her the real answer—the one that will serve her in the future. But, some of you who are raising boys should probably be warned what I advised her to do.
Dear parents of boys who may be in class with my daughter:
Middle school, huh? Whew! What a ride. I know that some of your kids are giving you one-word answers to “How was your day?” and I feel your pain. As the mother of a communicative girl, I can tell you that things like bra-snapping and skirt-pulling have officially started (remember those?). I thought that you deserved a heads-up, out of respect, that I told my daughter exactly what she should do if your son ever snaps her bra in school.
She should punch him in the throat.
I realize this probably violates the school’s zero-tolerance policy for violence. I get it that she will likely be the one who is sent down to the principal’s office and disciplined. I might be getting a phone call, and they may even ask me to come in for a meeting. I have told her there is a possibility of detention or even suspension, and that there may be little I can do to defend her.
I have also told her it is still the right thing to do.
During said phone call or meeting, I will tell the school staff, “You do what you have to do.” I realize that they have rules, and rules must be followed. I am teaching my children that we are not special snowflakes who are exceptions to the rules. But I assure you, I will be taking my daughter out for a hot fudge sundae that night, because I am also teaching them that defending themselves is a life skill that no one can take from them. If you have not invited another person to put their hands on your underwear, and they do it to embarrass you in public, then you need to shut that shit down.
Now, you may not like the idea of your sweet little boy getting punched in the throat. I can totally relate to that, being a mother of a boy myself (please refer to the next letter). If the idea of a throat punch upsets you, I suggest that you take the following precaution: Teach him to not grab a girl’s bra in school. Go ahead and include underpants, just to be sure. If he thinks it’s funny to be groping at underclothing he can’t see, and/or pulling up or down anyone’s skirts or pants to embarrass them, then you have been warned that he might be getting a throat punch.
OK? Good talk.
Dear parents of girls who may be in class with my son:
I am teaching my son to treat your daughters with respect. If he does any of the above things, and your daughter punches him in the throat, he deserved it.
Now, can you do me a favor in return? Please teach your daughter that she has the right to assert herself by communicating what she wants in a non-passive-aggressive way. (This will be helpful in the future when the touching becomes consensual.)
Now that you see how I handle stuff like this, you can imagine I am already sweating the impending questions about dating, first kisses, and driving. On second thought, maybe it’s me who needs the hot fudge sundae.