My boy Will (8 years old) is about to test for his yellow belt next Monday. As the day approaches he practices a bit more often. This test is different, however, since he is being tested on some grappling techniques. To effectively practice grappling you need a second person to grapple with and I am that person. What he has learned could be considered an anti-bully move - the sweep.
Will got himself on the ground facing upwards. I straddled his torso and held his shoulders down. This is the first part of the classic big kid/bully move that is commonly employed. Stage two involves the top guy (bully) beating the smack out of the poor kid on the bottom. While I had my hands on his shoulders Will was able to roll me over (with my assistance) onto my back and get into the dominant position. It was pretty cool. No, the martial arts school doesn't teach 8 year olds to pummel the guy on the bottom. This is a good thing. We practiced the sweep a few more times before dinner.
I've written about our household's policy concerning bullying in the past. Simply stated it is the No Shit rule. We don't give it and we don't take it. Don't worry, the policy clearly states that physical violence is the last resort to being bullied. The rule is a broad principle that can be interpreted as situations present themselves. Recently, I've decided to add an amendment.
I was standing on the corner with two of my neighbors. For the sake of anonymity one will be called N1 and the other guy will be called Bad Parent. Got it? Good. So, my boy was playing with Bad Parent's kid who is about the same age as Will. Bad Parent's other child (an older boy) ... we'll call him Bully was riding on his bike. Now Bully had just entered 7th grade and thought he was super awesome. As he rode around us he was teasing the younger kids about how they are still in elementary school. Not hardcore teasing, but teasing just the same.
The other two parents knew what was going on but chose not to do something about it. Me? I can't keep my mouth shut. Unfortunately, the stuff I say doesn't always come out in the most appropriate manner.
"Being in 7th grade is nothing to be happy about," I quipped.
Bully stopped the teasing.
Now Bad Parent is a big guy. He's also a "big conservative, voted for John McCain" guy, which doesn't make him a bad person, but when I had told him I was voting for Obama he looked like he was going to tear my head off.
He gave me that look.
"Hey," wondering how fast I could fall into the fetal position, "I remember being in 7th grade. It sucked."
Bad Parent mentally chomped on that for a second. While his mental gears were grinding I was able to engage the other neighbor in conversation. Soon all was forgotten and all three of us were laughing at whatever funny sh*t that came out of my mouth.
Afterwards, I reflected on the verbal back and forth. As a comedy guy that's what I do. Half the time I observe the crazy stuff that comes out of other people's yap traps; half the time I observe what comes outta my own, and the other half I think about the first two halves. This is when the amendment to the Sh*t/Bully policy was created.
A sh*t free zone around oneself is necessary.
That's right, being a decent person means more than just not being a bully or bully-ee. Being in a bully infected area is problematic. I'm not saying how big the bully-free zone needs to be. In everyday life the closer the bullying is the far less tolerant I am of it. Regardless, teasing and harassment of anyone can not be tolerated.
You may laugh at the amendment (well... I hope you laughed at some point of this bit) and think it's trite.
I wonder how many young gay people who committed suicide would still be alive if more straight kids demanded a sh*t free zone.