As I dialed the number, I felt a pit in my stomach.
I hated this.
It was like the call I made the other day to my father’s doctor because they left him sitting in the waiting room for over two hours, and then the doctor had to make an unexplained departure before seeing him. I was angry but totally uncomfortable, and overcompensated by being too polite and eager to accept their apologies. I may even have apologized for calling. I know. I know. But just the idea of a heated discourse gives me palpitations. I have a long history of allowing people to wipe their feet on my back.
The phone rang on the other end.
I wanted to hang up. But I didn’t because this call was for my 8 year-old son.
He had complained on and off all year about a boy who seemed prone to trash talk and shoving in the school yard. I listened and kept a pink flag at half-mast. It’s hard to know what exactly is going on with 8 year-old boys when they’re not with you, and I don’t like to jump to conclusions. Until Friday.
Friday, Michael came home and said that the boy had cursed at him and punched him in the face. He told a teacher, and there had been a meeting with the boy where they supposedly hashed everything out and he apologized.
Good, but not good enough. I needed to call his parents.
I’m back in seventh grade, unable to defend myself against Debbie who just shoved me in the halls. Or, Julie who ‘accidently’ blew saw dust in my face in Home Ec, again.
The last time I made a call like this a few years back for my older son, it didn’t go very well. The parents got extremely defensive.
Maybe they’re not home. It didn’t feel right to be relieved. But I was relieved.
Gulp. Swallow. Breathe. Man up.
With my heart skipping and galloping outside of my body, I heard my own controlled nervousness as I explained what happened. I almost winced, waiting for her tone to sharpen and turn hostile, but instead, we had a conversation. A good, productive conversation.
Later, my son asked, “Did you talk to his mommy?”
“I did.” I said. “And she’s going to speak with him. You did the right thing telling the teacher and me.”
He nodded and accepted that. “I think he was sorry.”
I nodded back. “I’m sure he is. And I don’t think this will happen again. But… if he ever hits you again, baby, it’s okay for you to hit him right back.”
“Okay,” he agreed tentatively, wide-eyed. “But, I didn’t want to.”
“That’s okay too. You did exactly the right thing.”
He seemed appeased, but then looked thoughtful again. “What is it, honey?”
“Can I buy a new game on my iTouch because I did such a good job?”
I smiled. My boy is a master negotiator and manipulator, definitely more apt to use his words.
Still, I don’t want my kids to run from confrontation. I want them to stand up for themselves.
That way, I won’t have to do it for them.