I have written about this before, but here I am struggling with it again: boys, roughhousing and bullying.
My two sons are quite different when it comes to roughhousing and wrestling. P does not enjoy it AT ALL. R, on the other hand, cannot get enough. (Interestingly K really likes it, too!)
It is not really an issue at home because we are instructed to 'use our words' to say when we have had enough--and the other child is expected to comply at that point or face punishment. Confronting these issues with friends (whose parents may have different ground rules) is a whole different story. With Summertime upon us and many more opportunities for free play with friends, I find myself dealing with how much of the roughness is just part of being male, versus when it crosses the line to danger. Additionally, I am unsure about when to intervene and when to let the boys just duke it out.
This weekend we were in a situation where many children were wrestling inside an inflatable at a party with little adult supervision. After hearing P cry, I went and stood by the inflatable to discern whether it was legitimate. To my disappointment, I found him yelling at another similarly aged boy, then pushing him. I ordered him to come out of the inflatable for a chat. He cried and said, "But, Mama, he was pinching me and hurting me. I told him to stop and he wouldn't."
A few minutes later R had a very similar experience with the same child. As I started in on my lecture for the kicking I saw him do, through tears he assured me that the other little boy had provoked it by squeezing his knees "so hard it hurt and wouldn't stop."
I have friends who feel the right thing to do is to tell them to push back. I just cannot get comfortable with that approach. Yet, I want my children to be able to defend themselves if they are truly being hurt. I decided to tell him the right thing to do was 'do what he needed to do to get away' and find a grown up.
I want to teach my children Biblical truth (turn the other cheek), but practically, I do not want them to get bullied or hurt. I would love to hear how some of you other mamas handle this issue.
P.S. Proving that it is dangerous to get another Mama involved in a way that makes your child out to be a completely innocent victim, a few minutes after R's confrontation with the boy, his Mama walked up and asked if everything was OK. Before I could respond, my son got a running start and tackled her son right before our very eyes.
"They were being rough," I told her, "but I think we are more than even now."