“Suck my dick, already.” Those words will echo in my brain like a broken record. Like a movie credit that loops continuously on that black screen just behind my eyelids, only seen when I close my eyes and give my vision a rest. Such an obnoxiously immature, yet, unmitigatedly adult phrase came out of my ten year old son’s mouth. To a classmate in his fifth grade class. To defend himself. At least that’s what the small, white sheet of paper headlined with Disciplinary Report read as I looked it over with astonishment.
My reactionary thoughts are jumbled between wanting to wrap my arms around him with congratulatory hugs, giving his head a tussle for good measure and wanting to wrap my arms around his neck, strangling him while shaking the life out of him, Homer Simpson style. My discombobulated feelings are a mess of pride, anger, inquisition, worriment, happiness, confusion, relief, and sorrow. “He said, what!?,” I keep questioning myself in total, utter disbelief, as if somehow my eyes were hallucinating and I had just read the report all wrong, this was only just to inform me of what another child had said to him. No such luck. It was, indeed, MY baby boy who said that. How, Why, and Because of What are need-to-knows that I need to know, right freaking now!
Since he was barely a toddler, I knew that I was dealing with a replica of my naysayers-hating, artistically-inclined, socially awkward, and videogame obsessed brother. That, true to his uncle before him, my firstborn would march to the beat of a different drum than the crowd. It has been my greatest worry, since his first day of Kindergarten, that he would be the target of bullies near and far. That he would be too meek and unsure of himself, too lost in his own world, to handle himself confidently. Just like my brother. Alas, it’s been pressed upon me with this ‘boy’s got balls too big for his own good’ incident, that my son, as similar as he is, is not actually my brother. My son’s experiences and lessons in life have been all his own, unique and exclusive only to him, his heart, and his soul.
Here I am, sitting face to face with this kid, who is momentarily lost on me in my disgruntled state of mind, as if, staring at a stranger sitting across from me at the kitchen table. He speaks fast, eager to explain his reasoning for using a phrase that he knows is completely unacceptable, especially to his parents. It turns out, though, that my son, as hard as it is for me to accept just because I see him as my son, my baby boy, not a person, is justified in his actions. Even, quite possibly maybe, his choice of *gulp* words is an appropriate response given the whole story and then taking a step back to look at the bigger picture going on.
As he continues on a mile a minute, I watch this stranger of a grown boy struggle to keep his composure. He’s wanting to cry, by the tears welling up in his reddened eyes, yet he’s somehow lost his ability to release his upset at will, as he so often did as a young boy over scraped knees and bumped heads, once before. I was about to find out that he was truly attempting to stand up and speak out, defending himself against one of the habitual bullies who took advantage of an open opportunity. Or, so that ruffian boy misty have thought at the time. He never actually considered that my son would be one to stand his ground. When the teacher became preoccupied with a fist fight that broke out in the bathroom between one of her students and another teacher’s, she had to leave the classroom to stay with the offending party until the school psychologist and principal could take over, aided by other counseling staff. My son’s bully decided to avoid his usual targets and try to gain some ill-intentioned laughs by fixating his sights on my son instead.
By this point of his recall, the kid was starting to shake and his welled-up eyes finally began to leak. He looked at the ground timidly while finding something to pick at on his fingers, no longer eager to tell me the rest of the details. It was physically hurting him to spit out what he knew he was going to have to say out loud to me. The reason for his own distasteful words that written like a newspaper headline on that cryptic disciplinary form, was worse than I was imaging as he explained the parts of the incident that the school fails to explain on that paper, because it’s only your business what your child has done, not the full circumstances of what has actually taken place. After some gentle coaxing, reminding him that he is not going to be punished for someone else’s words and I need the whole story to determine what is appropriate for handling his case. I also let him know that after I emailed his teacher that evening, I would know by school’s end tomorrow, what was said to him.
“You’re such a pussy that dogs even wanna chew your white cracker ass up. So damn ugly looking that your own mom is embarrassed to look at your fucking nasty face. Bet you drink her titty milk too, just like the crybaby you are. Your dick is smaller than your stupid brain, isn’t it, faggot? Probably suck your brother’s dick in bed every night, don’t you, crackerjack boy?”
Those are the words of his fellow classmate, a child of only 10 years of age the same as my son, that pushed him over the edge. My son’s face is reddened with embarrassment, streaked with the tears staining his cheeks, stumbling over his words. Those same soft, chipmunk-like cheeks I used to stroke gently as he nursed, to get him to fall asleep. That baby has grown up a lot in that time, leaving behind the innocence of childhood with every passing day now that he’s reached puberty. There’s no more Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny. No more make-believe. No more singing nursery rhymes, no more begging for the tickle monster, and no more kisses for anyone…..even me, his mom. I’m lucky to get a genuine hug before bed every night. That kid who said this words to him, took another piece of that innocence from my son.
This kid of mine, the source of my previously boiling blood less then five minutes ago, has finally answered those disquieting questions lingering in the shadows of my Mom Brain. Answered those nagging concerns that haunt my conscious on sleepless nights. Brought me peace of mind, inexplicably, with a choice in language that I was completely caught off guard by his knowing of, shocked by the comfort with which he had to speak them aloud, and even taken aback by the derogatory implications that my innocent child was using in proper context. When had he picked up on this stuff? Matured into a young man who understands the beginnings of the adult world he will one day, to my absolute disliking, be a part of? How had I missed the moment when the sweet, gentle, cuddly-soft, and silly baby boy of mine was exchanged for this gangly, sharp-witted, conscientiously aware, and independent young man?
When I finally got a hold of my bearings enough to form a question, I asked my son to tell me why he had responded the way he did to the harassment from that classmate. Part of me was wondering if he had it in him to throw down, if it became necessary to strike back in an altercation. Had he actually stood up for himself, or had the teacher walked in as my son spoke, preventing him from having to cross that line. “Mom, I was so angry I wanted to really hurt him. I wanted to punch him until his nose was bleeding. But, it would have been even wronger(sp) and I would have been suspended. If he would’ve tried to hit me, I would’ve knocked him out.”
My little boy is a little man now. I can hold onto that vision of the little boy in my heart all that I want, try as I may to keep him that way forever, but reality will always be here, ready to shake me awake with another, “Suck my dick, already,” moment. Life will always be there to remind me, that, despite the mundane, boring, same old-same old song-and-dance routine I go through every day to keep all my children happy, healthy, and safe, they are ever-changing and one day, sooner than later, they will no longer be children at all, anymore. My son will be an adult. At least, now, I know, he’s gonna be all right. He’s gonna be a good man someday. A man who knows when it’s better to lament an insult than throw a punch. That’s a man I can be proud of.