Something strange is happening to me as a mom, and it’s rather uncomfortable. Twice last week I ordered Stella to kick some boys’ asses – one kid academically, and the other for real. Sort of.
In the jungle of 3rd grade, the great divide has appeared: boys vs girls. I get reports all the time about how mean the boys are. Poor Stella doesn’t get that that usually means the boys like the girls, they’re just really dumb about it at that age. At a recent awards ceremony, her primary nemesis won more awards than she did. After listening to her whine for a while, I finally just told her to work harder and kick his ass next semester so that SHE would get more awards. See? Simple.
Then I kind of felt bad. Aren’t we supposed to pat our children on the head and tell them that everyone is wonderful and a winner? Am I supposed to be encouraging the kicking of ass even in this arena? Should I have put it a different way other than saying “kick his ass?” I don’t know. I do know I got her attention, though.
The next occasion was after jiu jitsu class. There is this creampuff kid that she often spars with. He’s a big boy, but she could take him. Instead, he always ends up behind her, putting her in a choke hold. Every. Damn. Time. It could be a looped video. They shake hands, he slips behind her, he puts her in the choke hold, she drops, she taps out. Now I don’t go crazy in class. I’m not that mom. But after? You bet your butt I’m on her. Dammit, Stella. I don’t like seeing that creampuff choke you out. Do something different. Take him down. Trip him. Knock him over. Kick his ass.
And oh my glob I’m encouraging my child – children – to be physical with other kids. Y’all. This goes completely against all of my mom training. We keep our hands to ourselves. We don’t push. If those rules are broken then consequences rain down. And now I’m encouraging my kid to be more violent. And yes, I know. This is a martial arts class and this is what they’re supposed to do. But it still feels weird. I kinda like it.
The best part of it has been Felix. This is a child that has never had an aggressive bone in his body. At play school, he was always the kid getting bitten. He got bitten a lot. I’ve seen a cousin of his come up to him and hit him square in the forehead with a wire kitchen whisk and he didn’t retaliate. But in jiu jitsu? He’s 37 pounds of pure fury. It’s a hoot. I never would have guessed.
Don’t get me wrong. I encourage both of them and offer feedback and suggestions as we drive home at night: Felix, stop staring at the fan and pay attention to the coach. But you’re doing amazing during the sparring! Stella, you’re doing awesome on your warm ups and practice. Just kick so-and-so’s ass, ok? They’re both eager to improve and always want to know who’s doing better. I swear they’d fight over used cat litter. Now if and when they start earning stripes on their belts, THAT will open up a whole new can of worms in the world of sibling rivalry.