Beyond academics, there are many things I want my children to learn through homeschooling. I hope to instill a hunger for truth, and a strong faith in their Creator. I also want them to learn self respect and respect for others. My boys are part of a pack in the neighborhood. I have seen this pack grow up from preschool age, and often have them in the house.
This past weekend, one of my boys was punched in the stomach by an eighth grader (older brother of pack member), pushed to the ground, and had his face smeared into the dirt. He wasn’t allowed up, until he opened his mouth.
We didn’t find out about the dirt eating, until after my husband confronted the boy about throwing the punch. The boy answered, “Mr. Adams, how would that make me look if I punched your son, he is younger than I?” Just as smooth, as if he was speaking to a friend, not a large black man.
Later that night, we received the whole story from Colin, who eagerly reports on the humiliation of his big brothers.
This has been an ongoing problem for some time. What started out as name calling, has escalated to cursing, humiliation, hitting, and dirt eating.
A month ago, my boys returned from a pack member’s home, after the pack ran into the house and laughed at them from the upstairs window, excluding them from play. Their Bible verse that week was “Pray for those who persecute you.” With a clinched jaw, I reminded them of their verse, and we bowed our heads and prayed for the pack. Over dinner, the boys told me prayer worked, they were much nicer later in the day. Although, the success only lasted a day or so, before it happened again.
After hearing about the latest fight, I called my son for a chat on the patio. I explained, when I was little, I had braces on my legs from the waist down to my feet. I was called names, picked to be “it”, because I couldn’t catch anyone, and bossed around. One day, on the playground, this boy decided to demonstrate what I couldn’t do. He called me a cripple before karate kicking me in the gut. I fell to the ground, the wind knocked out of me, but my eyes caught sight of a weapon. I remembered my big brother telling me, if any boy ever hurts you, you hit him here, as he pointed to his groin. I picked up the stick, and hid it behind my back.
“Oh Johnny!” I called over to him. “I may be a cripple and not be able to kick, but I can do this!” I jammed the stick between his legs and went up and down with it. He fell to the ground crying. I ended up spending my recess with my nose on the chain link fence, but when my teacher wasn’t looking, to further torture him, I smiled over at him and waved. To this day, I wonder if my branch prevented his family tree from growing limbs.
After proudly telling my son this story, his lip quivered, “But, I’m scared.”
I assured him, “You won’t get in trouble for defending yourself.”
He replied, “I’m not scared of you, I’m scared of him.”
There is nothing worse than hearing your son say, he’s scared. A boy who can stand in front of a crowd and play Boston from his electric guitar without nerves. For the first time in my life, there were no words, I just sat.
He left me on the patio, staring at the football game playing on the television. Mentally, I asked God permission to go slug this boy myself. “Just one little hit? I’ll read my Bible 10 minutes more each day for a month, I promise.” All along knowing, I couldn’t fight this battle for him.
Through the glass doors, I saw my son fighting it himself, the only way he knew how. Kneeling by the sofa, with folded hands, he prayed. He remembered the verse he learned weeks before.
I swallowed the knot of shame swelling in my throat. Here, I demanded him to kick him where the sun don’t shine, and my son was going to the Light for help. He doesn’t know I saw him, and I don’t know what he prayed for, I figure that’s his business, but he taught me a powerful lesson.
When you feel afraid, powerless, and humiliated, there is someone who understands. Jesus ate the dirt. He heard “crucify him!” shouted from the lips of his own pack. He suffered the pain of being struck over and over, and the humiliation of dying unclothed on a cross for crimes He didn’t commit. He took the ultimate abuse for us all.
I can’t promise I will never ill advise my sons, but I know to point them to their Heavenly Father, who is never without words, never without compassion, and never without power.
Hmm… I wonder what’ll happen next week.