I really admire my eight year old son’s sense of social justice. He has a very strong understanding of when things are fair or not fair, and he is passionate about sticking up for the downtrodden. When he was four years old he told me that for Christmas he didn’t want Santa to bring him any toys – instead he wanted Santa to give them to children who were poor and had nothing.
Sometimes though, I have to remind him that his execution of justice requires a little forethought and consideration.
I recall an incident that occurred last year when he was in grade one. Some bigger boys in grade six were harassing a little boy in grade prep and my beautiful boy was a witness to this bullying. So he stood up against these bigger boys to stop them. However his method of stopping them was to spit at them. *chuckles*
He knew that what these bigger boys were doing was wrong and unfair, and he stuck up for the little guy. And for his troubles he earned a reflection time. A reflection time is basically a primary school (i.e. soft) version of a detention where they spend 10-15 minutes writing (or drawing pictures) of what they did wrong, how they felt, how the other person felt, and what they could have done that was different.
When I received the reflection time notice to sign and return to the school, I couldn’t help but feel proud that my dear little boy wasn’t afraid to stop bullies even though those bullies were 4 or 5 years older than him. At the same time I was a smidge grossed out that he actually spat at them (it’s the germaphobe in me – I detest spitting, it’s such a vile practice).
He was devastated that he got into trouble for what he saw as sticking up for a friend against bullies. Clearly I couldn’t punish him because his intentions were in the right place. Instead I had to sit him down and do my best to explain to him that it was his reaction of spitting that he was in trouble for, not the fact that he was trying to stop bullying in the school yard. We talked about healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with bullies. Hopefully he understands that: yes bullying is unacceptable and has to be stopped, but there are better ways to stop the bullying.
All in all though, I am exceptionally proud that my dear little boy has a heart of gold, and looks out for others. He’s my little Anti-Bullying Champion!