"My friend was getting beat up by this kid and I asked him if he was getting hurt and he said yes and I said what does the kid look like and I went and found the kid."
I turned down the radio the rest of the way.
All three of my boys are trained in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) a full three years; the six year old a first degree green belt. He's also Mr. Peacekeeper of the bunch but when he spars? I hold my breath. The kid is a powerhouse.
"You went and found him? Then what?"
"I found him and his friends hiding behind a wall. They started punching me."
I was clutching the steering wheel, scared to ask what happened next. We have made it very clear to the boys that they are not allowed to use their MMA training unless they need to defend themselves and - well - here we are, a situation where he had every right to defend himself.
"I blocked the punches."
"Did you punch them back?"
"No. Just used my MMA blocks."
"So you didn't have to punch anyone?"
"Nah. Their punches weren't very good so I just blocked them until they got tired and then I got a teacher."
I sat back in my seat. I was impressed. At six years old, he had a) stuck up for someone getting hurt, b) utilized his MMA skills while maintaining the right amount of composure and restraint and c) made sure a teacher took control from there.
This is where I make my case for MMA. When I mention my boys (ages 5, 6 and 8) are MMA trained as well as nationally recognized and awarded, I hear everything from "Geez, what is that? Cockfighting for kids?" to "Oh you're raising little fighters, huh?"
I'm raising boys. Boys who participate, play and train in a number of sports - soccer, baseball, basketball and yes, MMA. Boys who are strictly disciplined at home and whose discipline continues at the MMA studio. Who are not allowed to abuse their training in any way. If they do use their skills in a way they shouldn't, they won't just answer to school officials and us as parents but to their sifus and senseis. They will lose their ranks and belts. They are taught respect and self control before they learn to throw a single punch and they're taught that throwing that punch is only done when it's necessary.
And sometimes, it is necessary.
My oldest spent three years being bullied to the point of complete misery and anxiety at his last school. So much so that it ended in both police and school board involvement at the end of last year and us moving schools. This, mind you, with the school having a supposed "zero tolerance" bullying stance.
Yet he never threw a single punch. He never defended himself.
I'll be honest. I wish he had. When your kid cries himself to sleep at night because the kids won't leave him alone and the school officials whose job it is to keep him safe refuse to, don't tell me you wouldn't want your son to fight back too.
This is the irony of the schools' no-bullying campaigns. Even when the schools enforce and provide consequences to the kids who are bullying (which his school didn't), rarely do they go beyond the write-ups and suspensions to actually get to the root of the problem and resolve why the event(s) even happened in the first place.
Maybe this is why the bullying never ends? Why it's being called an epidemic?
The schools have kids - even at the Kindergarten level - so scared about coming face-to-face with the principal over an altercation of any kind with another student that kids will let other kids bully them until they can't take it anymore.
If they tell on the kid? They're told not to be a tattletale.
If they stick up for themselves? They're given the same exact punishment as the kid who threw the first punch.
And the moment the bully's friends find out their buddy got "ratted out" well, forget it.
Don't get me started on the parents who refuse to believe their precious child could have ever done such a thing.
We will never encourage our kids to fight. Ever. But we will always make sure they know that they have the right to defend themselves if they have to. Because in all the anti-bullying campaigning, the school's are failing to teach our kids that they do not deserve to be pushed over, punched, jabbed, tripped, bitten, spit on and harassed by anyone. And if the schools won't remind my boys that they deserve to be treated better than that by other human beings, I will.