Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yeah, I figured it had to happen sooner or later. Young Jake is -- well, he's not an average kid. And eventually, that was gonna cause problems.

Those of you who have met him will be aware that he's not at all a villain. He's curious, and intelligent, and gregarious, and his worst fault is not unexpected: he believes instinctively that everybody else his age shares his interests, and that the offbeat stuff he knows must be just as cool to every other person out there.

So yeah, sometimes you have to shut him up quite directly.

But he isn't malicious, or destructive, or vicious. Unfortunately, he is imaginative and outgoing... and eventually (I always assumed) that was going to be an issue.

I don't actually blame the school. I figure this is simple primate behaviour. Jake is ten, going on eleven. His classmates are similar, and even a year older - being as how he's in a shared 5/6. At that age, boys are just beginning to move out of simple childhood, into the complicated area of adolescence. And the hairless ape begins to make himself known.

Evolution... I have no idea why anybody bothers to argue against it. You only have to watch a troop of monkeys or baboons, and then sit through a session of Parliament to know without the slightest doubt that pretty much all of humankind is only a hair's breadth from picking fleas off each other, and enjoying a quiet banana on the sly.

So, you know. Boys. Beginning to feel the first stirrings of adulthood. And what do they do? They set about playing dominance games.

The same things occur when they're younger, of course. There are all kinds of competitions and struggles. But it somehow gets more important at this age. And it gets more overt, and unpleasant.

Naturally, there's nothing I can actually do for young Jake except listen, and talk to him, and maybe share my own experiences. (Yeah. Of course it happened. What would you expect? I grew up with a Yankee accent and an IQ a couple standard deviations above the norm in rural, bassackward Far North Queensland. I know about this shit first-hand, naturally.)

The school will do its best, of course. And who knows? Maybe things will fall out well. Maybe the idiots in question will find some other kid to pick on, and forget about young Jake.

But probably not. And sooner or later, all this primate bullshit will have to run its course. Jake will just have to learn how to play out the stupid ape games in a way that leaves him free to do what he likes.

My heart goes out to the little guy.


  1. The infamous green monkey situation, at least he can draw on your own experiences and support.

  2. One would hope he avoids the route I took to deal with bullies i.e. I belted them. Needless to say I didn't get bullied anymore. My eldest was the same about two years ago - bullied, and he just punched the kid once...busted nose later, no more bullying. That Tae Kwon Do came in handy.

    My littlest bloke had an incident today - 3 kids doing some proto-bullying. He is in first grade now, and aged five. 3 other kids, two classmates and one in second grade, ganged up and were punching him in a presumably early stage bullying episode (funnily the eldest of the three until recently was a bit of a mate. The other two...well one is a kid who I heartily dislike). Anyway, my lad walked away, the Principal was in the playground and he told her what happened, three miscreants off to the Principal's Office. There will be more to come in the next few years.

  3. Oh, Flinthart, that's awful, I'm sorry to hear that.

    Why do kids have to be so cruel? I guess because some people just have to be assholes.

    I don't think I was ever technically bullied - a bit of the usual teenage girl bullshit and the odd being called "Crazy" etc because I was loud and into drama and didn't know how to control my emotions properly (still don't, really).

    I hope that I never bullied anyone... although I do remember snickering on some occasions when someone else would make a bullyish remark. And I regret those. I regret always wanting to be cool, and wish I'd done a bit more standing up for the little guy.

    I don't know, I'm possibly exaggerating. I do have a fairly active guilt chip, so that stopped me being too much of a c***, I hope. :)

  4. GC -- girls do it differently, on the whole. It's more social and verbal, less direct. But I suspect it's nastier.

    Bondi: in the end, your solution is exactly the same one that I had to use. And while I very much hope there's a better way for Jake, and his mum and I are working with him and with the school to do anything and everything else that might work... in the end, it's stupid primate dominance psychology, innit?

    It would be nice to think we're better than that. Maybe we will be, someday.

  5. Crap. Only had a couple of instances of it where I couldn't avoid using my fists. It isn't fun. Not much to add except to wish the young bloke luck.

  6. Thanks. He's not a natural fighter. Violence and aggression go against his grain. I'm hoping this can all just go away.

    Things can change though. I'm not a 'natural fighter' either. But enough training and exposure can do a pretty good job of creating a different approach.

  7. It won't. ANd he's going to have to work it out for himself. It came to my son in a sideways slide. He wasn't himself bullied, but his friends were, and he had to decide whether to be their friend, or join the bully's gang. He agonised over it for weeks. As much as you want to save them, it's a problem only the child can solve. It is development of their own internal morality that is at stake.
    My boy learned that by his refusal to be disloyal to his friends, he became their champion. He knew by the way he felt about his decision that he had done the right thing. You can only figure that stuff out if you have to go through it.
    It's the same as letting them climb the tree - how else will they understand gravity?

  8. Hughesy - that's where courage is formed I believe. I took the coward's way out a couple of times and knew deep down its w...w...w...(help me Fonzy!) wrong. I believe that at that age you do know it.
    Dirk - I don't know what you've taught him in martial arts but it rips that you could have taught hin some hitting ways to react and that either you decided not to or that he knows its not the answer. Possibly both. Let's hope he doesn't have to engage like that. Sorry to bleat on but I liked Hughesy's comment and had to double dip on this one.

  9. Hughesy and Therbs - thank you both.

    The situation is not yet one that calls for a physical response. Hopefully it won't get there.

    I've taught him more than enough, but he lacks the hard edge that comes with time, and with the understanding of what it really means to be in a serious fight.

    He'll need to learn that some day. I'd like to believe otherwise, but it's not true - because there are many different kinds of fight. Not just with fists, feet, or weapons.

    And as for schoolyard bullshit... well, regrettably, primate psychology is what it is. Sometimes, when all other avenues are exhausted, you have to respond in terms that the primates understand.

  10. That happened to my son, too, for many of the same reasons. Some of it I addressed with strategies my son could use to keep it from getting worse (which is always the biggest problem). Some of it I could do nothing about whatsoever other than listen and commiserate, explaining that it happened to me, too (but without describing how I managed it, according to my older brother's instructions, with violence; I didn't want that for my son).

    But some of it required me to shave, put on a suit, transform into a Destroyer of Worlds, walk over to the school, enter the Principals office unannounced, close the door and explain why the school and all associated with it were going to do their very best to help avoid certain bullying events from happening again and thereby avoid my attention.

    Some things are simply not to be tolerated. I sincerely hope those kinds of things don't happen to your boy. As for the rest, we all go through it. But it is especially difficult for a civilized soul to learn to navigate the veldt without becoming just another animal.