Only Bullies Give Wedgies

Declan is fighting me. I’m supposed to be the bad guy from a show he loves. He has it choreographed to the last detail.

“Side kick me, Mommy.” That’s something you don’t hear a six-year old say often. I aim for the stomach.

“Woosh,” he says. He angles. Pretty impressive.

“Kick me again.” I try. He angles. I’m getting real-person impressed, having flashbacks to learning to angle and evade in my martial arts studies, back when I discovered martial arts wasn’t really about kicking and breaking stuff, it was about avoiding the fight completely. And doing peaceful things, like meditating and arranging flowers.

Eventually, he breaks through, and starts punching me for real, because that’s what good guys do. I throw a knee. He punches it. He punches my arm. That little kid hurts. I explain, “We’re playing. Mommy doesn’t want to hurt you. We’re not really punching.”

“Throw me across the room, Mommy.” I pick him up a little and put him straight down. He throws himself ten feet–a Hollywood stunt man.

He gets up, “You can’t defeat me that easy!” Who’s trying to defeat anyone? I’m just trying to drink my tea. In a superhero flurry, he races over and punches me again.

“Punch me, Mommy! In the stomach. Like this!” It’s a good punch. I lose a little bit of breath.

“You don’t have to show me. I told you, we’re not really punching people.”

“It’s what the bad guy does!” I can take no more.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 5.32.30 AM“Does the bad guy do THIS?” I pick him up and give him a very big wedgie.

He laughs. Then he stops.

He looks at me. Deeply. Like I’ve made a mama joke or insulted his dog.

“Mommy. You can’t do that. You can’t give wedgies. That…is bullying.”

I kneel down. “What do you mean?”

“Bullies give wedgies. You can’t do that. Bullying is mean. You shouldn’t be a bully.”

“Where did you learn that?” I ask.

“School. Bullies are bad.” He holds my gaze. He is teaching me.

I want to explain bullies don’t usually give wedgies. To tell him bullies sometimes punch and hit, but more often they’re subtle, insidious, hard to recognize until they’ve already infiltrated the soul, done their psychological damage. Made us feel we have little value. And because of that, we need to be strong. To know our own self-worth, and to refuse to let the outside world hit us with the resistance that makes us believe what they say–makes us stop short of being great.

I want to teach him that bullies can be people we don’t know on the schoolyard, but more often they’re people in our inner circles. People we thought were on our side. And most of all, they can be ourselves. We hit ourselves the hardest. That’s the truth.

But I don’t teach that lesson, because he breaks the gaze. With a flurry of activity, he’s a superhero again. I don’t give any more wedgies. I throw him across the room, as he requests, and to drink my tea. That’s what bad guys do when they lose.

[image: simsonswiki.com]

 

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“Grandma Cut Off My Ear”–A Lesson about Resistance

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 7.45.17 AM“She poked me!” Declan cried. We’re getting his hair cut. Declan hates haircuts. He cries and resists.  If I were our hairdresser, I’d accidentally cut out his tongue.

I dread taking Declan for haircuts. He makes a big, loud fuss. Our hairdresser recently moved to a spa-salon where everyone takes their beauty very, very seriously. No six-year old boy belongs in a spa-salon where everyone takes their beauty and fashion very, very seriously. Heck, I don’t belong at a spa-salon where everyone takes their beauty and fashion very, very seriously–maybe he inherited the no-fashion gene from me. But at least I don’t cry and scream, disturbing women relaxing with their facials and manicures.

“Remember when Louie the Barber scared me?”

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 7.41.52 AM“Yes.” I said. “You were two. He scared you. You’re fine now.”  When Declan arrived at the stage of toddlerhood where his gender became unclear and I started confusing him with a dirty sheep or sandy breed of French poodle, it was time to get a real haircut. My limited skills would no longer do.

My husband said, “No hairdresser. Let him go to the barber with the men.” My dad was going the barber. I asked him to take the poodle along too. I went for support.

The barbershop was small, with enough hair piled on the floor that an 80’s metal band must’ve been the last set of customers. There wasn’t a canister of antiseptic in sight. The band probably drank it after running out of Everclear. The barber was a real old-timer. The medicine pole remained from when they really did do surgery in this specific shop.

The barber found a booster seat, swinging Declan into the chair. Declan screamed. The barber, undeterred, held him down, snipping away. Declan screamed and thrashed, but the barber continued, only narrowly avoiding a stabbing, mullet, or mohawk disaster.

Declan’s hysteria lasted weeks.

“Aren’t they supposed to disinfect the scissors or sweep the hair?” I asked my dad. I didn’t know, I’m not a guy. Girl places are pretty particular about these things, but maybe guys don’t care about infections, germs, gym socks, or dirt. We didn’t return. I resumed the hair cutting duties a while longer.

Then, Grandma intervened.  She’s always been good at haircutting. Declan wheeled his head around. She stabbed his ear.

“AHHHHHHH!” Grandma did not get a good review on Yelp that day.

So, now, we are at the hairdresser. This total saint of a woman is much more of a psychologist than stylist.

“I don’t need a haircut,” Declan informs her. She tells him he does and asks him about dinosaurs and upcoming first grade.

“Remember when Grandma cut my ear off?” He responds.  She checks for signs of van Gogh.

“Grandma did not cut your ear off. It’s still there,” she says. “I won’t cut your ear off. I’ll be quick.” He cries. Spa customers watch. The one nearest says, “Oh, my grandson…” I think the lady in the leggings just shot us a dagger. Declan is still crying and there is a strip of hair cut down the back of his head. It will not do to leave now. Our hairdresser promises she will cut his hair in ten snips. It takes twelve. He tells her.

We escape, I tip, probably not nearly enough. I will bring a gift when I go next week.

I take the boy for ice cream.

“You only cried once today,” I say. “But you’re six now. Next time you won’t even need to cry at all.” A little neurolinguistic programming never hurts. Best to start setting up for the next haircut now.

Amazing how such little things from our past build up so much resistance and stagnation in our lives. The smallest things spiral into bigger and bigger problems and fears until we become incapacitated. This resistance makes us push when we should be pulling, avoid when we should be tackling, and judge when we should be seeing the full picture.

This isn’t only a six-year old’s truth. Often times it’s true for me as well.

I think that means I get some ice cream, too.

 

 

[images: doblelol.com, pxleyes.com]