Last night we hosted my son's scholars bowl team and families for a little party. Mostly everything went alright, but seeing the kids interact and play together was enlightening.
These kids are all in 4th and 5th grades. There are 7 kids total on the team, and a few of their siblings came to the party as well. My son, who is in the 4th grade, is the youngest member of the team. (Yes, I'm very proud of him!)
One of the older kids (we'll call him Steve to protect the innocent and everyone's feelings) was bossing all the other children around. Now I understand that someone has to lead, but this kid was going waaaay beyond that. One time, when all the boys were playing in my son's room, I overheard him saying "Pokemon and Bakugan are stupid." Now these are two of my son's favorite things. I kept my thoughts to myself and kept walking.
Later, this kid was doing everything in his power to impress his parents, both of whom basically ignored him. When I said he did everything possible, that included beating down children while "swordfighting" with Nerf swords and shouting "Now THAT is how you win a swordfight!" over and over while looking at his dad who was talking to me. He continued all afternoon into the evening calling anything anyone else liked as "stupid" and using his larger size to intimidate and overpower the other children while his parents ignored him.
I was saddened and a little bit sickened.
My son was very upset by all of this, but was trying to be a good trooper and not say anything about how this kid was hurting his feelings.
I waited until this-morning and decided that I should talk to him about this. I took him to his room and began with telling him how sorry I felt for this kid. "Steve" seems to need to put everyone else down in order to make himself feel better. I expressed this idea to my son, and I could see that I'd given him something to think about. He didn't say it, but I could tell he felt better.
I know this is just part of growing up, but I hope this helps give him a different viewpoint on people who spend their time tearing others down. While you may not like what they do, with a little empathy, you can understand why they do it. It doesn't make it right, but if you understand why they do what they do, you can figure out a way to shut them down or shut them up.
I hope my son will grow up to the be the better, more mature individual. He didn't chose this boy as a friend, but he did choose to be on the scholars bowl team. He's shown real courage in sticking with it, even with someone as domineering and disagreable as this kid with whom he has to work. He'll have to deal with people like this his entire life, and I hope I'm giving him the skills to deal with them.
No matter what, I'll be proud of my son. He never gives up, he always tries his hardest, and I love the man he's becoming. I try my best to tell him at every opportunity, but sometimes it's easy to not hear what your parents are really saying to you.
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