Monday, April 13, 2009

My oldest son's first fight

After driving home from work last Wednesday I arrived as I normally do; I kissed my wife and hugged my boys and asked how their day's were. It's kind of a ritual at our house. My oldest son (10 years old) was painting a bird house on the kitchen table and was barely aware of my presence until my wife declared "your oldest son got in his first fight at school today." There was no anger or malice in her words. Strangely, she was looking at our ten year old with a kind of subtle pride and admiration.

It was all I could do not to blurt out "well did you win?" and trying to keep a straight face asked what happened. You have to understand that while Teddy is the average height and weight of a 12 year old and very aggressive on the basketball court of the football field he is a very kind and gentle boy to his family and friends. Much like my father in law, Teddy would give a stranger the shirt off his back and not think twice about it. So, to consider him actually fighting someone is a stretch by any means.

While capable of deep compassion children can also be very cruel. As will happen amongst the "lords of the flies" there was a child in Teddy's fourth grade class who was targeted by another boy who then cajoled a group to torment this one unlucky child. During recess my son approached the leader of this band and told him what he was doing was wrong and that he should stop. This boy threatened my son and told him to mind his own business. When Teddy wouldn't the boy swung away. Teddy knocked the kid down and there was a brief fight. The fight was quickly stopped by a teacher and the children returned to their classes. Now here's the odd part and the part that gives me hope for our school system.

After hearing the story I asked Teddy whether he got into trouble and went to the office. Nope. He sure didn't. Hmmm… That's a bit odd don't you think? So, my wife and I waited to hear from the teacher or principle and nothing. So, my wife spoke to the teacher about the incident. What do you think the teacher did? She did the right thing. She gathered her students together and told them she was very upset and angry with them that they should stand by and allow a student to be bullied and ridiculed. She asked why there was only ONE boy in her class who had the courage to stand up for what was right? Anyone else getting chocked up besides me?!?!?

Teddy saw what was happening and took a stand against injustice. Am I being a bit melodramatic about this? I don't think so. This ten year old boy decided to do what was right rather than do what was easy even if it meant he might get into trouble. There is a lesson here we can all learn from. In our daily lives how often do we see the smallest injustices and turn away or worse. This is the attitude that drove the civil rights movement. It's the attitude that stopped Hitler in WWII. Ordinary people choosing to do the right thing instead of the easy thing.

I am very proud of my boys. They are a constant blessing to me and at times like these they become a mirror of sorts that forces me to ask myself with the heart of a child "Am I doing what's right?"