I got a surprising voicemail message from Punkin the other day. “Mom, I’m in the principal’s office and I’m supposed to call you and tell you… Well, here’s what happened…”
He got in a fight. There has been a boy at school that has been pushing his buttons since the first week of school. He has sent him home with bruises. He has issued threats such as “I’m going to kill you.” or “I’m going to stab you with…” (fill in the blank with things such as push pins, safety pins, pencils, and pens). I think Friday was Punkin’s breaking point and he defended himself. The unfortunate part is that he said he pushed this kid and didn’t mean to push him as hard. When the boy fell, Punkin went over to help him up and be sure he was okay. Unfortunately, the boy responded by pinching his stomach and threatening to stab him again. “Mom, I don’t know why I got so mad. But, he scared me and I just wanted it to stop.” It didn’t last long because, “this teacher came out of nowhere and stopped our fight.” When he was asked by the principal to tell her what happened, he responded with, “Do you want to know from the initial incident or just what happened today?” Part of the Asperger’s is that matter-of-fact approach. They can be very blunt and are consistently clarifying things.
Given the time of year, I couldn’t help but think of the famous “Scott Farkus” fight in the movie, The Christmas Story.
It’s a hard balance wondering how to respond to any physical response to these things. I don’t want him to be involved in fights – EVER. However, I want him to know that he has the right to defend himself. He should not have to deal with constant torment. He has been such a trooper through it all. I was half expecting this to happen at some point. Someone gave me some good advice: “Never swing first, but always be the last one swinging.” Like she said, right or wrong it’s been what she has taught her kids. I think it’s sound advice for us.
It was a very good learning experience for all of us. He has been very quiet about it because he knows it wasn’t the best response and he is very sorry. However, I think he understands that he had to defend himself. It would really be fantastic if it were one of those stories that I hear about with boys where this happens and the message is clear that nobody is going to get away with pushing this kid around. I’m very proud of him because he can verbalize better what is bothering him and he has walked away from many situations that in the past would have been moments where he shuts down and internalizes the bullying. He also felt sorry about it after it happened. The Punkin a year ago would be placing blame, making excuses, and being sorry wouldn’t be part of the equation.
He’s one of my heroes in life. He is making so much progress and while this event was horrifying to some degree, he gave me a little something to smile about with his descriptions of the event. His honesty was amazing!