As much as Bug is like me, Buddy is like My Man.
For example: they both always do the right thing and it’s easy. I rarely see either one of them wrestle with themselves about anything. They do have their faults and trip up but they are little bumps and stumbles. They are also both super smart. Buddy is cruising along in school (as does Bug, I might add) and has really been enjoying Jr. High until recently.
One day on the car ride home Buddy started to cry over something very little.
“All right, what’s really going on?” I asked him.
“It’s just that…all the kids have cell phones, which you and Dad won’t let me have, and they play video games that I could never DREAM of playing because they are M rated. So they are all talking about things and I can’t contribute because I can’t do those things and it makes me seem immature. I know they are not more mature than me but I feel like it!”
“Mmhm. Well, I’m sorry that this is happening and I know how you feel. When I was in 6th grade I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs. A lot ot the girls were. I went home and cried because they teased me about my legs so I went home and told my Dad.”
“What did he do?”
“He let me shave my legs!”
“So…can I have a phone?”
“Nope!” Buddy glared at me like I’d tricked him. “For several reasons, #1 My tears were real because I really wanted to shave because it made me feel like a child that I didn’t BUT no one was teasing me. I manipulated my Dad. I am unmoved by your tears. #2. Mom and Dad have different rules for our kids than other people. We always will. Having a cell phone and playing M rated video games will not make you more mature. The very fact that you want to do those things just because everyone else is pretty much backs my point. Your whole life there will be things like this. Someday soon you won’t feel mature because you haven’t made our with a girl yet or because you don’t smoke pot. Your friends may even tell you that you are immature because you haven’t had sex yet or won’t drink or try drugs. Those things are not the measurement of maturity. On the contrary, knowing that you are NOT old enough for those things or knowing that they are not things that will be good for you IS a sign of maturity. So…I’m very sorry because it’s awful and yucky to feel left our and different but I don’t want you to be like other people’s children. I want you to be like MY son. And my son will not play M rated games and won’t have a phone until I really see a need for it.”
Then the other day Buddy asked me if he could stay home from school.
“Just…I could use a day off,” he said.
“From what?” I asked.
“From the stress of Jr. High.”
I tried not to laugh because I know that everything at this age is important and real to them but…seriously? OK….
“How is it stressful?”
“Well, all the kids are cussing all the time. I know they aren’t allowed to but they think they can because their parents aren’t around and then when I’m really frustrated it makes me want to cuss but I can’t because it’s not OK and I’m not allowed.”
“Do you think you should be allowed to cuss?”
“Bur you want to?”
“You don’t know what it’s like! They are all cussing and they are making our with each other…”
“Uh huh. You’re right. I can’t possibly imagine because when I was in Jr. High the kids absolutely did not cuss or make out with each other. Nope. None of that!” I said sarcastically. “Son, none of that is new. There is nothing that you will tell me from here on out that I have not heard or experienced as well. Why is the cussing so shocking to you? I know you’ve heard Mommy cuss before or heard it in a movie…”
“That’s only if you’re really stressed or like when you have to drive on ice. I’m hearing it all day, all around me.”
I couldn’t help it, I had to laugh.
“I’m sorry but this does not warrant a day off from school. Maybe we should cuss around you more. I’d be happy to make out with Daddy more often too.”
“Gross!” Buddy laughed. Then he got serious, “There’s another thing…”
“Let it all out, man.”
“There’s this kid at school named Daniel and he’s a real jerk. Sometimes, if he walks by my desk, he’ll just take my pencil from my hand and throw it across the room.”
“Yeah, and at recess, he’s a really good basketball player and I play on a different court than he does because I’m not very good but if I lose my ball and it gets in his court, he’ll take the ball, and even though I’m standing right there with my hands out to catch it, he’ll throw it way out into the field so I have to run after it.”
“Mmhm…” I said. “And how do you handle those things?”
“I try to avoid him but we have almost all of our classes together. At recess I’ve started playing somewhere else far away from him.”
“Has your teacher noticed?”
“Have you told a teacher?”
“No. That won’t help. They don’t do anything.”
“OK. Well, I think you are handling it wisely. Buddy, I hope you know though that Dad and I want you to defend yourself. You don’t have to just cower and back away to this guy all the time and if he ever lays a hand on you we fully endorse you protecting yourself. Understand?”
“Oh yes! I know that!”
Let me just say, I’m not a fan of crying “bully” every time some one teases you. It makes me nuts how many kids say they are being bullied and how many parents jump on that band wagon. I was teased my whole life because I was short, because I wore glasses, because I had a boy’s name (for crying out loud), because I was flat chested and then because I was busty. And now I rather love that I’m short and I love my name. I rather enjoy my glasses (usually. Hating them right now but that’s a long story) and…I’m not gonna lie, I hate my boobs but that has nothing to do with being teased in high school. The point is, this is a regular part of childhood and I wish people would stop making a big deal out of it.
Granted…I had an older brother who pretty much beat up anyone who messed with me. I’ll never forget Edward. He filled my hoodie with dry fall leaves and then pulled the hood over my head. My very long, thick hair was tangled with leaves and debris. Then he took my lunch and tossed it down the gutter.
And then my brother kicked his ass.
And that…is quite appropriate if you ask me.
Yesterday Buddy sat with me on the couch. I put my book down and wrapped an arm around him.
“How’s it going Bud?”
“Good day at school?”
“How was track?”
“That…was not so good,” he sighed.
“Lay it on me.”
“Remember that kid Daniel I was telling you about? He’s on track too. When we were lining up to run he came over and pushed me so he could get on the line. He just pushed me and told me to move.”
“Mm hm…” I said in a calm tone. Meanwhile, in my head…
I punched that 11 year old little ass hole right in the face.
“So how’d you handle that?” I asked in a nice even voice.
“I said, ‘hey! I was here first you know! Find another spot!'”
“How’d he respond to that?”
“He pushed me again and told me to move again.”
“Mm hm…” I said again.
Then I right hooked him in the gut.
“Then what did you do?”
“Nothing. It was time to run.”
I stuck a foot out a tripped the little punk. Then I stood over him and growled, “Listen here you little shit, don’t ever touch my son again. Don’t talk to him. Don’t even look at him or I’ll kick your little ass.
To Buddy I said, “I’m sorry he’s such a jerk. Maybe he has a bad home life. Who knows.”
“Well, I’ve officially declared him my arch enemy until a more worthy opponent comes along!”
Then Buddy snuggled into my side and laughed at the things in he was reading in his book. I opened my book to read as well but I kept imagining various scenarios where I kicked that little jerks ass.