Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Ignoring the injustice

Parenting intervention is something, it seems, of growing significance.

With a child embarking on his schooling, and increasing his independence on an hourly basis, judging when to intervene, or allow situations to play out, feels just like a continual, and ongoing process.

My philosophy is to allow as much freedom as possible, reminding my child of his choices, what is, and is not, acceptable, but generally operating with as loose a leash as possible.

There are also lessons to be learnt in any situation, and I am often looking for them too.

This week my maternal instincts were truly tested, as I figuratively fought against an urge to protect my child, as I witnessed him suffer an injustice.

He was not in any danger, not any real danger, but I am sure, at the time, it felt like the most important situation in the world to him.

In the mornings, prior to lining up for school, the children are allowed to play outside. Parents generally stay, and hold bags, but for ten minutes or so before school starts the playground is supervised by one of its staff.

On this occasion one of the other boys was being a tad too rough, holding on to my son and bashing him in the stomach. It was obviously meant as play, and my boy looked like he knew it should not be going on, but on a certain level, was enjoying the attention.

He did not retaliate, not on the first occasion anyway.

But when this kid came back for a second helping, he approached from behind, and in batting him off, my son caught this lad with his defensive flick.

Cue crying, and running to the teacher who was unfortunate enough to be on duty, yet seemingly unaware of all the goings-on prior to a crying boy arriving at their feet.

My boy was unceremoniously summoned for a dressing down, which, in turn, upset him.

I was not alone in witnessing this, and another parent asked; ‘Are you not going to say anything?’

They did not get a response, partly as my son was heading back my way, and partly because I am trying to take my ignorance level through the stratosphere.

Instead I focused on calming my son down, reassuring him, but also telling him that life plays out that way sometimes, and although he had done absolutely nothing wrong, it will feel like he has.

I know I cannot really expect him to understand my rhetoric, but it is a lesson to be learnt.

It was a topic for discussion amongst the parents I wandered away from the school with, and I got at least one; ‘I wouldn’t have let that go’.

I explained my thoughts, also adding that really a manned playground, is the jurisdiction of the manned.

Strangely everyone seemed to agree with me, but also stated it is not how they would have handled it.

They cited similar-ish situations, where one child was told off, but another was not – that sort of nonsense – where they had ‘been in’ to talk about such situations with teaching staff, or tackled a fellow parent directly.

I rather uncomfortably pointed out that these imperfections, and inconsistencies where actually good for our children, and they taught more than some teachers can ever muster when they are actually trying.

The sad side is they also ebb away the innocence of childhood, the belief in the perfect, so I appreciate it is a delicate balance.

I am not sure I would handle the same situation identically again, and I am sure there will be, and have been, times when I have let my heart rule my head.

But surely by getting it wrong, I am teaching unintended lessons anyway.