Guest blogger Amanda: My kid was suspended for fighting. Fighting BACK, that is. He may be in trouble with his school principal, but not with me. We've always told our son that he is never to start a fight, but that if someone starts one with him, he'd better not lie down and take it!
During recess recently, my son, Zack, was defending a friend who was being bullied by another boy. When he told this kid to back off, the pint-sized jerk turned his attention on our son and yelled at him to "shut up." Again, Zack told him to leave his friend alone, or he would tell the coach. The kid's response this time was to SPIT on him. Zack was mad by this point, but he calmly grabbed his friend Diego's hand and said, "Come on, we're telling Coach Morales." That did it: The bully pushed him down and kicked him in the ribs!
Only then did Zack put into practice what he'd been taught: He fought back. He kicked the legs out from under this boy, got back on his feet and readied himself for some fist-throwing. Except that didn't happen -- bawling and finger-pointing did. "He kicked me! He kicked me!" screamed the little f**ker. (Sorry, the Mama Bear in me comes out every time I think about this.) Since no one witnessed the actual fight, except for the end result (a bully put in his rightful place), both boys were taken to the principal's office.
Later, when we had a conference with Zack's principal, the man was empathetic but said he had no choice but to uphold the suspension. It didn't matter that the other boy had a bullying record an inch thick, or that my son had only been defending himself and his best pal. Nor did the evidence matter (i.e., a bruise on my kid's ribcage and Diego's side of the story). There was nothing the principal could do. He ended the meeting by saying, "I'll leave it to you to take disciplinary action at home so that this doesn't happen again."
Discipline? Whatever, dude. My husband and I informed the principal that there would be praise at home, not "discipline." We explained that we don't condone fighting, but that he could shove his rules if someone's beating on our son -- he'll defend himself, regardless of the consequences! The principal may think we're crazy, but come on: Does he really expect a kid to sit back and take it when another person hits him? That's what's crazy.
I'm not saying Zack is above the rules and that he shouldn't have been suspended -- that's the school's policy, after all. He broke the rules, so he has to pay the price.
Zack may have been punished, but he walked away with his dignity and an important life lesson: doing what's right is not always easy, especially when an authority figure is saying it's wrong. And that's something that's going to stick with him a lot longer than the sting of a two-day suspension ever could.