As a parent, some lessons are very easy to teach. Others are more difficult. We had a life lesson Friday night that was one of the more difficult ones.
Let me set the scenario for you: we were at my dad's side of the family Christmas party. Two of my cousins have little boys who are not very well-behaved. That's putting it nicely, trust me. The two little boys fought constantly all evening - two times included fist fights and the boys had to be pulled off of each other. They are four and five years of age. I had a really hard time letting my own kids play with these boys because (1) I didn't want my kids hurt or involved in some sort of physical altercation, and (2) I flat out didn't want my kids learning that type of behavior or thinking it was acceptable. The two boys were destroying the host house, running all over the place, not listening, fighting, etc.
During one of the adult games, I saw Carter standing in the kitchen, holding his head and crying. I went in to ask him what was wrong, and noticed he had blood all over his face. Instant panic. He had a cut above his eye and I immediately thought "stitches". I called over Eric and my mother to take a look and we all decided that stitches weren't really needed. I asked Carter what happened and he said one of the boys punched him in the face. My temper instantly went to boiling point because everyone in that house had been trying to diffuse those boys all night long, and now my child was injured. First thought - I wanted to swat that kid. Second thought, I wanted to punch his mother because of her poor parenting. I know....kids will be kids. But in this case, I am choosing to place a significantly larger amount of blame on the serious lack of parenting by my cousin. She did, eventually, make her son come over and apologize to Carter. Carter told him "next time, let's not do that." I was very proud of him for that simple statement because I truly believe using your words instead of fists during a fight will always make you victorious.
Upon telling this story to numerous friends and family members, the first reaction from most people included comments such as "well did he punch him back?", "did he kick him in the nuts?", etc. I think my generation is the last included in the "eye for an eye" philosophy in life. Everything now is so politically correct, which, frankly, is annoying as hell. Whatever happened to hitting back? When I was growing up, I was raised with three boys. We were taught to hit back. It's what you did! If someone hit you, hit them back. If you hit someone first, you can expect a shot right back. And if you ran off, either my dad or uncle stopped you to let the other person take their shot. It's just how it was. The one rule was that you never punched someone in the back. That's it. Everything else was fair game.
So that's the lesson we decided to teach to Carter, after thinking about it overnight. We sat down with him and told him that sometimes, you just have to defend yourself. If someone else hits you, especially in the face, you hit them back. He was pretty surprised that we were actually telling him it was allowed, and we explained that if you are defending yourself, you won't get in trouble with us. Sure, there might be other consequences (like, if it happened at school, etc.), but if you are truly defending yourself, it's fair. It's a hard lesson to teach because you don't really want to condone violence, but you also want your child to defend themselves should the situation arise.
You may not start the fight, but you will sure as hell put an end to it. Simple as that. And if someone punches you in the face, Carter Ryan Davis, you give 'em one right back. ;)