Wednesday, December 5, 2012
T. Bone slid in the front seat of the van after school. He is no longer relegated to the back seat. Of course not, he's as tall as I am and gaining inches seemingly by the day. He slumped beside me and sloughed away a tear. Then came his confession.
Mom, he said, I got in trouble today.
Well, I thought, there's a first time for everything.
The long and sordid tale involves a peripheral classmate I know of and what I deem to be pretty typical sixth grade boy antics. He taps T. Bone while he is at his locker and then runs away. This has happened between 4 and 20 time this month by T. Bone's very accurate account. Yesterday this fellow sixth grader upped the ante. He kneed T. Bone in the backside. It was a gesture that my son found particularly offensive and so he flew off the handle and called this boy a name. Well, a couple names, but more about that later. He yelled down the hall after him since he was already running away and a passing teacher overheard him. That resulted in a meeting with one of his teachers and the guidance counselor.
T. Bone was most upset that he got in trouble when he was reacting to a physical act he found aggressive and intrusive. In his mind, had this boy kept his hands, legs and knees to himself there would be no issue. He could not find the fairness in being called out when he was not the instigator. He was beside himself that the instigator ran on off down the hall and on with his day without a word from a person of authority only to come back the next day and do it again.
Let me back track here and say that T. Bone did not really get in trouble. He had a conversation with the teacher and the counselor and was not punished, but...this is a BIG but...approval is his currency. This kid does not like to disappoint people. I think his teachers know this about him and that's why he was spared the write up. Seriously, this was worse.
I told him that it may seem unfair to be reprimanded when the other boy got away with what he did, but that in this world when you are viewed as a leader, and a good person, student, citizen, more is expected of you.
Ala For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48) He looked at me incredulously after I said this. That's just what Mrs. A. said, he told me. I'm not surprised, and I believe that he gains far more by being held to a higher standard than he looses.
We talked about why this classmate is behaving the way he is and what T. Bone can do about it if it continues or escalates. I could see that his tears had dried up when he turned to me and asked, So you're not mad at me Mom?
No, I'm not mad at you T. Bone. I trust that you will make better choices in the heat of the moment next time. Heck, I've called people far worse things for much lesser offenses. And the names you called your classmate, well when I was your age we used those very names like they were terms of endearment. They were so common, which, of course, did not make them any less degrading. In your innocence though, you didn't even know what one of the words meant. You had to ask me and when you learned the meaning, you seemed truly remorseful that you used it. No, I'm not mad at you T. Bone. You are a super kid, but everyone...even the best kids...make mistakes. It's how you learn. It's how you grow. No, I'm not mad at you T. Bone. I'm happy that you can talk to me. I'm thankful that you listen to what I have to say. And mostly...I'm incredibly proud of you.