Boundaries


Mama’s Losin’ It

Mama Kat has a writer’s workshop, and one of the questions from this week was just begging to be answered. “Tell us about something you punched”, she said, and that is definitely something I can do.

This isn’t my memory; it’s more my mom’s. But I’m sure you all have memories of things that your parents told you so often that you might as well have been there, it’s so ingrained into your psyche.

I was there, as a matter of fact, I was just young enough that the memory isn’t. So, just assume that anything I write here is half assumption, half recollection of ‘the story’, and a dash of timey wimey wibbly wobbly creative allowance.

When I was growing up, my mother was friends with a woman who had a son the same age as me. We spent a lot of time over at their house, or with them over at our house. It sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

I hated him. HATED. He was mean – he followed me around for hours, poking me in the back. That’s what he did every time we were together at that stage of our relationship. My mom and his just shrugged it off as ‘things kids do to each other’… possibly as a life-lesson to me, possibly because they really just wanted five minutes in which to have an adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around poop, sleep deprivation or children in general, so please just handle this yourself and stop tattling!

So I handled it. One day, as he was following me around, poke, poke, poke-ing, I had enough. I had reached my limit. Enough was enough.

I punched him in the face. Hard. My mom says he landed on his ass, big blue eyes wide with shock (oh yes, I did this in front of our parents) and then burst into tears. He ran, sobbing, to his mom, demanding that I get punished. She suggested that he think of this moment next time he was considering harassing me. Talk about life lessons!

I spent a good half of my childhood playing with Evan. We had sleepovers, adventures in the backyard, and epic lego-filled rainy days. He and I played with Barbies together, and with J.I.Joe, Batman and all the rest of the action figures.  I’m pretty sure he’s the one who tried to teach me to pee standing up (another ‘from parents’ story).  Our parents were worried that they’d have to explain to us why we had to stop sharing a bed at sleepovers, though at about that time cooties and school friends and growing up all came into play and we drifted apart, and went our separate ways in life.

I think we got along so well because we knew each others’ boundaries.

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10 Comments

  1. I love the fact that his mother didn’t baby him and go along with his suggestion to punish you. The world needs more mothers like that.

    Sad that you went your respective ways though….I have a childhood friend like that and wish we could reconnect. 🙂

    • My mom was likely giving me the same treatment (since I’m sure I let out a few “Mooooooooo-ooooooom! Evan’s poking me!”), so I figure it’s all about balance 🙂
      It is sad to lose touch with people, and it would be nice to get back in touch with him at some point. Right now, though, from what I hear through the grape-vine, we are in two very different places in life, and unlikely to connect on any kind of level. He is not the innocent blue-eyed boy I played with back in the day, that’s for sure.

  2. I agree with Jodi. Actions have consequences and I also would have reacted as his did. I have to say that if the genders were reversed and a girl was poking my son and he was upset by it, I would expect him to NOT punch her. Maybe push her, but its different with girls. They usually dont do things like that at young ages… I hope. I guess I will find out in a few years when my daughter is older. I, however was brought up to never hit a girl, so I will have to teach my son (when we have one) of all the other ways to annoy them so they leave you alone.

    But mothers like Evan, yes we need more like them.

    • See, I’m torn, though – at that age, why is it that I would be allowed to punch him for being the most irritating thing in life, but he wouldn’t be able to do the same? At that age, I doubt he’s plotting a future of wife-abuse and wanton woman-smacking. It would just have been a reaction. Then again, yeah… boys aren’t allowed to hit girls, that’s the rule, no matter how old they are. It’s just kind of interesting to think of the versions of this – boy vs boy, girl vs girl, boy punched, girl punched, etc.
      I’d like to think that, if it had been unprovoked, I’d have gotten in as much trouble as he would have if it had been him. Equal rights to suffer and all that.
      As an entirely childless person, I guess i’ll just have to wish you luck in dealing with all those complicated aspects of childrearing 🙂 And may your daughter only ever encounter the boys who’ve already learned their lessons about what happens when they step over the line!

  3. What a great story! I totally know what you mean about those stories that you’re not really sure if you remember or just remember your parents telling you 10,000 times.

    Anyway, I have to admit that if my son hit a girl, I would be horrified; however, if one of my little girls hit a boy who was bugging her, I’d probably react much differently. Hmm…I guess that’s not a very fair double-standard, but, then again, I don’t plan on changing my stance (at least on my son hitting a girl). Visiting from Mama Kat’s!

    • It’s kind of hard – it’s so ingrained that “boys don’t hit girls”, but at the same time, not all little girls are the delicate blossoms they appear to be. And sometimes, regardless of boy or girl, a kid has to standup for themselves, and children aren’t great at listening.

  4. It’s an interesting double standard Jimmy raises indeed. We tell our boys not to hit girls and tell our girls to haul off and whack the boys. I don’t WANT my boy to hit a girl and I don’t really agree w/my husband’s assertion to hit her w/something other than your hand if necessary (what’s he gonna do, hit her upside the head w/a book? A block? A chair?).

    • I think it all depends on the circumstances. My mom was teaching me to not be such a pushover, and his mom let me teach him that bullying isn’t the wisest choice. Neither of us grew up punching and bullying, so I figure it worked out for the best.
      Also, I picture your son carrying around a retractable lightup Jedi Lightsaber, just for these ‘don’t hit girls with your fists’ times 😛

  5. VM

     /  January 9, 2012

    I don’t think there should be a double standard here. You should never need to hit. However, you also have to learn to stand up for yourself, and in the sandbox years, you have limited defences. Words don’t always work, and obviously Evan learned a valuable lesson.

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