One of the nice side benefits of home-schooling, other than the occasional highly inappropriate parent-teacher conference, is that you get to deface the textbooks as you see fit. For example, Caleb is using a reading textbook that contains brief essays, and about which he has to answer questions. Recently the essay of the day was about bullying. “Dad,” he asked, “what should I do if I get bullied?”
This is a common tactic for Caleb; he innocently asks for my parental advice, while keeping his reading book by his side, in hopes that I’ll inadvertently answer one of the questions for him. His teacher has scolded me enough times, however, that I’m on to this trick. Even if I didn’t care so much about his education, I would still have to listen to my son’s teacher, because I have to sleep with the woman.
So I answered: “I don’t know, son. What does your essay say you should do?”
Caleb scrutinized the essay, looking for clues. “Oh,” he said. “If they call me a coward, I’m supposed to agree with them.”
Now he had my attention. “Can I see that book?” He handed me the book. The essay explained that the best way to deal with bullies is to let them do what they want, and not fight back. If they call you names, laugh along with them. If they call you a coward, tell them they’re right. Bullies like it when they’re confronted, the essay explained.
“Give me your pencil,” I said to Caleb. He handed it over. I crossed out a good quarter of the essay, leaving the parts about how bullies are disturbed and unhappy, and how it’s important to tell adults when you’re getting bullied.
“Why’d you cross those sentences out?”
“Because sometimes the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the nose as hard as you can, and to keep punching him until he falls down.”
I know, I know, turn the other cheek, and all that. I’ll get my sons started on pacifism once they’re confident they can punch out the bully. Because unless you’re willing to punch the bully, turning the other cheek isn’t Christianity, it’s cowardice.