The school called me at work. My ten-year-old was involved in a “scuffle” on the playground.
The details were murky. Three boys were involved, my son jumped in last to “defend his teammate.”
When I picked up my son on carpool line and asked him how his day went, he chirped, “GREAT.” His face was bright red and he refused to make eye contact with me. Apparently he wasn’t going to spill the beans. I know the parenting experts would tell me to wait it out, but I don’t have the time or patience for that anymore.
“So, you got into a fight with N and M, huh?”
His eyes widened and then filled with tears. I listened to his side of the story. I got it. And then I told him:
“I don’t care who is doing what to your teammate. You never, ever get involved in a fight like that. You find a teacher. You never, ever touch another person in anger.”
I thought more about it.
“Okay, unless your friend is being hurt. I would understand if the bigger kid was beating up M and you felt like you needed to help. And of course you would only do this if no teacher was around.”
I don’t know if this was the right answer. In our schools today, fights are serious business. I’m lucky that the teachers know my son well – and that adults were close enough to jump in. It’s the kind of school that understands that three good kids can get into a scuffle over a football play.
But for a moment, I wished I could rent a husband for a few hours. A strong and positive male role model who would know what to do and say.
Instead, I called up one of the moms of the boys involved.
Within minutes, we were laughing. “Well, you know,” she said, “they’re BOYS.”
“The most competitive group of boys I’ve ever seen,” I said.
“Yeah and they were playing football when it happened,” she said.
“Ummmhmmmm,” we both said at the same time.
The boys will be all good with each other again. It’s okay, it’s normal, it’s not something that happened because of the divorce.
And I didn’t need to rent a husband after all. It would be good for my son to have a strong male role model in his life (a better one than this dad, obviously). But I think it’s time that we stop believing that only men can instill values in their sons. Women have been raising children alone for centuries. If they could do it, so can I.