Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hit me with your best shot.

Kane got suspended from school on Thursday.

Apparently some kid thought that Kane was breaking in line, so he pushed Kane, and a few minutes later punched him in the back of the head. Kane pushed him back.

My immediate reaction was to be a little freaked out, a little worried, a little mad. After having some time to think it over, I am just very proud. It takes a frail and delicate balance to raise a kid who can take up for himself. You don't want to get a kid so hyped that he ends up being a bully and a smart-ass, but you also don't want to teach a kid that he should back down when confronted. There's a lot of back-tracking and contradiction in teaching a kid to find the middle of these two things. "Don't ever hit or push anyone else, and don't ever snatch something away from another person. If someone is making you feel bad or threatening you, just walk away; be the grown-up in the situation. If someone ever hits you or pushes you or makes you afraid, you should tell the teacher immediately. But if you think you're about to get beat up, you need to pound on him just a little."

We're trying to raise MEN over here, you know? I want them to grow up to be the kind of men women can trust, can confide in, can depend on, can be proud of. I want them to be the kind of men who are smart and brave enough to ignore shitty assholes, but are confident in the fact that, if need be, they can BEAT THE LIFE OUT of those shitty assholes. I want them to be the kind of men who stand out in a crowd because they are SO honest, and have SO much integrity, and also know how to smile and mean it. Because boys lose that sometimes, and I think that loss in turn causes girls to lose it, too.

There was a time in my life when I was surrounded by boys- friends and lovers who took care of me and knew that I would take care of them. These were people that I would love forever and do love now. But that time passed eventually; I was lonely for a long time and it was hard to grow up and realize that these relationships grow and change and, sometimes, break. But it has occurred to me over the past few months that it's just a new group of boys now. Four boys- Jason, Kane, Jude, and Reed- is plenty. And the fact that our relationships are even more intimate than those I've had with boys before- it takes a special kind of person to scrub the skidmarks out of the underwear of someone who doesn't even call you mom, okay?- just makes it all the more intense. There are fights and disagreements and misconceptions and hurt feelings; we laugh hard and we cry harder.

But it is LIFE, man. There is not a day that passes in which I don't think, "Thank GOD I'm alive, or else these guys would be wearing some NASTY skivvies and eating blow pops for dinner." Really, though, without even realizing it, we are grabbing the grittiest part of life by the balls and sayin', "Bitch, please!" Because, for some of us, just making it through the day alive is an accomplishment. Drugs, and drinking, and partying, and being crazy, that is the easy stuff. Explaining, for the FIFTEENTH TIME, to a seven-year-old why he can't lick the knife and then put it BACK in the peanut butter, while doing laundry, feeding a ten-month-old, and helping a ten-year-old with his homework? These are things that YOU DO NOT LEARN IN SCHOOL; you teach yourself to do these things and you teach yourself not to drag the new kitchen knives across your throat somewhere in the process and that's why it's such an accomplishment. There are always easy ways out. There is always something more fun, more relaxing, less "IF YOU LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT ONE MORE TIME I'M GON' CHOKE A BITCH!" that I could be doing. But I am sticking with it, 'cause it would be a shame to waste these past three years of sheer exhaustion and self-doubt by giving up. And I'm getting pretty good at this whole "multi-tasking" thing. And I think I might be setting a good example for my boys while I'm at it.

There is some one out there right now who needs that last paragraph. I am tearing up and thinking about you right now. I hope that it's not too late, because we can deal with this. YOU can deal with this. But if it is too late, we will deal with that, too. I am finding out that we are more alike than I ever even wished we would be. You are a member of my family, so you will never be alone.


sw said...

this was one of the best blog entries i've ever seen. i am a teacher of 27 10-11 year olds, 15 of which are boys. i feel the same as you when you said you're trying to raise a certain kind of man. you put into words, good words, how i feel about the boys in my class, about being noble and someone woman can count on and be proud of. i have stories let me tell you!

Anonymous said...

Go Kane! It's an important lesson that you gotta break the rules and be punished occasionally for the purpose of honor...Now he can eat his shit sandwich and know that he's better for it. I would've wanted to march down to the school and raise hell to get him out of it--because he was right. However, I think allowing the punishment teaches a more important lesson...

Anonymous said...

PS Thank you...I needed that