I’ve been married for six years now, which means I’m extraordinarily familiar with my wife’s vocal intonations. I can tell when she’s happy, sad, anxious, jealous, nervous, annoyed, and — most of all — pissed. So when the phone rang last week on my way home from work, it only took a few words to figure out she was FURIOUS!
“Your son got in trouble at preschool today,” she began (notice for some reason Will is always MY son when he’s in trouble). “You’re gonna be so angry when you hear this.”
“Oh boy,” I said as I imagined the worst. “How bad is it? What’d he do?”
“His teacher said he and his friends were playing superheroes and Transformers, and they were PLAY-FIGHTING!! They kept pretending to fight and hit each other right in the classroom!”
The silence that followed on my end of the conversation wasn’t meant for effect, I was simply waiting for MJ to finish the rest of the story. Because I assumed there would have to be more than that to warrant such contempt on her part.
“OK. Well, did he actually hit anyone?”
“So he was playing superheroes with friends, no one hit anybody else, and he’s in trouble? Am I missing something?”
A “spirited” discussion took place from that point on, and the only thing that came out of it was the understanding that moms and dads view some things very, very differently. MJ was mad because she doesn’t want Will to fight, play fight, or mimic fighting in any way, shape or form. She just thinks it’s bad form and she plans on disciplining Will any time he engages in it. And to be fair, she’s not alone. I talked to several other parents and the moms largely agreed with her.
The dads on the other hand…
Sorry, but I don’t see anything wrong with what happened. Will clearly knows the difference between real and pretend. He knows full well that if he actually hits someone as a result of anything other than self-defense, it’s wrong and he’d be in some serious trouble. But he didn’t hit anyone. Simply put, I don’t think he did anything wrong.
I know it’s cliche, but boys will be boys. It’s too bad that’s become a bad thing over the years, but I still think it’s true. I let Will watch Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Transformers. Are there fights in them? Yup. Do I think that’s inappropriate for a 4-year-old? Not at all. Because I explain what’s appropriate and what isn’t, what’s real and what’s fake. And Will understands that. When he’s around his friends, they have sword fights and shoot Spiderman webs at each other. They aren’t malicious and they have good-natured fun.
But apparently that’s been deemed inherently evil by the powers that be. Because while boys are readily encouraged to play pretend in the kitchen and even put on dresses (which I’m also in favor of by the way), they’re not allowed anything that could even remotely resemble even the possible potential appearance of something so…violent. Oh the horror of pretend superhero play!!
Now he’s so upset from his teachers and MJ getting on him, he’s scared of playing superheroes at all. Worse than that, he rats out the perfectly normal boys who try to get him to play because he’s been told how bad it is. Basically they turned my son into a sissy narc, which is so sad to me. And completely unnecessary.
To be fair, when I got some more information from the school I found out Will ignored the teacher when she asked him to stop play fighting. And that is not acceptable. He knows he has to listen to adults and especially his teachers. And he was punished for that. But I couldn’t punish him for play fighting. Not a chance. He’s a normal kid and that’s normal kid behavior. It’s not destructive or malevolent, and it shouldn’t be a punishable offense.
I love moms and I love my wife. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. But I truly believe in my heart she’s wrong, the teacher is wrong and the school is wrong. They’re little boys and this is how boys play. I’m not sure why it’s discouraged when, in fact, it should be celebrated.
So I told Will it’s OK to do with his friends outside of school, but when he’s in school it’s not allowed. Obviously his first question was “Why?”
I wish I knew kid. I wish I knew.