But Sometimes Thou Shalt Bring the Smack

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.


  1. Julia P.

    Karate lessons are the way to go! They gave my peace-loving guys a lot of confidence, and they had to use their skills only once or twice.

  2. Tom

    Excellent advice Tony!
    99 44/100% of the time it’s all bullies and tyrants understand. Being a Christian isn’t about appeasement. We need to raise future Churchills not Chamberlains!
    Some valuable quotes:

    No people in history have ever survived who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies. – Dean Acheson

    An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. – Winston Churchill

    No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. – Franklin D Roosevelt

    Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian. – Heywood Broun

  3. Carl Holmes

    As the father of a 1st grade boy I say GO BOY! My son came home last month bloodied and with a note from the teacher. As I investigated I found that a boy started it, he finished it politely and quickly. It was enough to bring me to tears.

    Mom, and the school, were less forgiving. On his day of suspension for fighting we went to the zoo, saw some real tiger fighting, and did the man thing. I think that is the best bonding we have ever done.

  4. Joseph

    I remember asking my father for permission to get in a fight when I was a freshman in highschool. I had had all I could take from one guy in particular who was being a “bottom” (if you get my drift). Anyway, the first answer I got from my dad was “Only if you win!” The second answer I got was, “Have you prayed about this?” Later that night, my dad (a pastor) was in an elders meeting and he called me in. He had asked the elders what they thought, and it was split down the middle as to whether I should face this guy down physically. However, they were all agreed that I should pray that the situation would stop, and they prayed for me before I left. The Lord is good, and I was never bothered by that guy again. But if I had been… my mind was made up! It was time to fight.

    Raise your son to be a man!

  5. Cordeiro

    If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way. – Jimmy Malone to Eliot Ness in The Untouchables

    Ok, maybe your instructions on just punching the bully several times is more appropriate counsel for a young boy, but the concept is the same.

    Very good work in your editing of that pacifist handboock masquerading as an instructional essay.

  6. MMM

    Bring the smack, and PWN the bully. God has knocked me on my ass enough times to know that it’s a teaching tool. Now I take martial arts so I know how to do it right.

    Bullies, you can has PWNS only from teh prettie folwr of Ceiling Cat.

  7. Yevolto

    I like that verse. Jeremiah 29:11 because it deals with tough times and war crimes. If a bully bullies all his/her henchmen away then a mutiny occurs so the first one who doesn’t turn the cheek is the traitor who starts the mutiny. Machiavelli would say and that traitor gets crowned King for being the most feared backstabber on the playground. That’s good advice for a child. I never heard my Dad question the Bible or make me wonder if my interpretation of a word was wrong. I figure that you keep turning the other cheek until the other person begins treating you like less than a human being in that case- Kill the dumb machine!

  8. Deborah

    There’s an episode of “Happy Days” where Richie Cunningham asks the Fonz how he got his reputation for being so tough—because Richie has never seen him throw a punch. Fonzie explains that sometimes one punch is enough. And that every man usually ends up having to throw a punch some day. The episode was better than my description, but you get the idea.

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