This evening, after dinner, A. went out to play with the local kids in the strip of green outside our block of flats, where a boy hit him and gave him a bloody lip. A's friend (an older girl who lives downstairs) brought him home, saying she had tried to stop the fight, but couldn't. While we were trying to stop the bleeding, this boy came to our door with a couple of friends to ask if A. was coming back out to play and I told him he was a bully, never to come to my door again and slammed the door in his face.
Once A's lip stopped bleeding, we had a long talk and he eventually told me what happened.
He called this boy the "R" word. A very hurtful and ignorant word that is not allowed in this house. I thought he understood why we find this word so offensive, but he didn't, only that was a bad name and so he used it on a boy who plays too rough for him. And instead of apologising when this boy got (rightly) upset and asked "do you want a fight?" A. said yes. "Because I didn't want to look like a wimp." Because he mixed up real life and computer games and thought he knew how to fight.
I told A. that I am disappointed in him for using hurtful words, that I think he should apologise next time he sees this boy and that I would like the chance to apologise too. I have tried to explain to him the difference between computer games and real life - it remains to be seen if he understands that yet.
So, I learned some lessons today:
- Just because my child avoids conflict at home and at school, it doesn't mean he didn't start a fight with a boy he's scared of.
- Just because a child plays rough and is a bit cheeky with me, it doesn't mean he's a bully.
- I should keep my big mouth shut when I'm angry and find out what really happened before I go apportioning blame.
- I can't sleep properly when I know I've been unjust (hence posting this at 5:30am in the hope that, having admitted it, I can snooze for a few more hours).