- Chinese proverb
"You can't handle the truth!"
- Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessep in A Few Good Men
Well, as I've learned more about "the incident" that occurred over a week ago, I'm reminded once again of how important it is not to pass judgment before you get the whole story. And particularly of how, when you know your child is generally well-behaved and truthful, you need to take what others say with a grain of salt.
Here's my recap of how the incident was originally relayed to me:
The kids went on a field trip on Friday and were waiting in line to get on a merry-go-round. There was the usual pushing and shoving, and apparently some child pushed Viva, so Viva punched her. Then one of the moms who was helping to chaperone said, “No, no, no – Viva, no hitting!” To which my child (yes, mine)replied: “What do you care? You’re not my mother!”
Two points here: Viva did not punch the other child, as I found out later - she merely pushed her back. (I'm not excusing this, but I do think pushing is much less harmful than punching, as I was originally told.) Also, there was a crucial omission in this story, which is that the mom in question did not see the child, A, push Viva in the first place. When Viva protested that A had pushed her first, the mom flat out said, "No, she didn't." I know my child and while she can sometimes be "spirited," I know that she will not ever hit, or behave aggressively, unless she is hit first.* So it appears that not only was she wronged first, but then she was (in her mind) called a liar on top of it.
This pretty much changes the whole tone of the incident for me. I said to Viva, "Okay, I understand that you were really angry and hurt. It sounds like K's mom took sides without knowing the whole story and that was unfair. But you know you are still not supposed to talk to grown-ups like that."
"I'm sorry!" Viva wailed. She had already had to talk it out with Daddy, with much crying and unhappiness, and then I came home to find her lying in a somber little puddle on Daddy's chest on the couch and had her rehash it with me. "Can we just stop talking about it? It just makes me sad!"
"You understand that you are not to talk back to grown-ups like that?" I said. Viva nodded miserably. "Okay, then. I can tell you are sorry and you already feel bad enough, so yes, we can stop talking about it. Can you come over here so I can give you a hug?"
Privately, Sweet Dub and I conferred and agreed she should not be subject to any kind of further punishment. It is a hard road to walk, this parenting thing. You just kind of make it up as you go.
* This is a policy of last resort, since when Viva started school, she was so non-confrontational that she was getting bullied by another kid every day. Finally, against my protests** (and since "telling the teacher" was not preventing her getting pushed, kicked, scratched and even spit on every day), Sweet Dub taught her how to throw a punch in self-defense. This was preceded by a simple lecture, the refrain of which was how she was only to do this as a last resort to make this child stop picking on her. Indeed, not only did the bullying stop, but they became best friends.
** "My child is not going to be a punching bag!" was Sweet Dub's response.