The other day as I was
taking my walk I saw you pulling a girl by her T-shirt. At least that's what it seemed to me. She was yelling and struggling to free herself. I was appalled. I made you let go and
apologise too. Oh I did see those tears of anger, frustration and humiliation that sprang up in your eyes. I didn't mean to humiliate you but this needed to be done.
Later, much later when
we’d both cooled down, you’d explained, “Ma we were playing Chor Police and I
was a Policeman. We have to hold the 'thief' to a count of 10 for him/her to be
“You cannot pull a
girl’s shirt,” I’d said.
“I wasn’t pulling, she
was. I was supposed to be holding her.”
"No matter what, you CANNOT pull a girl's shirt,"
"Why," you’d asked, ‘Why
can’t I ? That’s how she catches me too, that’s how I catch the boys and everyone is fine with it.”
You had a bit of a point.
Here is my answer. Listen patiently for this is something that will stand you in good stead all your life.
The problem was not that you were holding that girl. The problem was that she didn't like being held. That she was asking you to let go and you weren't.
It's simple, actually. If a girl doesn't like you holding her T shirt, let go. If a boy doesn’t like it, let him go too. LISTEN to what the other person is saying.
Yes it’s tough. Yes it’s easy to get carried away by the game. Yes it’s easy to take people’s reactions for granted. But it’s crucial to remember that it’s a game only if all people playing it are enjoying it, or else it’s plain bullying. Sounds harsh, I know. You didn't intend to bully, I know. But that's what it was.
I hope that answers your 'Why?'.
Here's what you can do. ASK what everyone is comfortable with. Put the rules in place before you start a game. As you grow up you will realise, many times people don't even speak out when something makes them uncomfortable. You have to learn to listen, even without words. This ‘watching out' for the other person’s reaction is very very important. It's called being 'sensitive'.
And while we're at it, here are a few more things for you to remember...
- Caring for other people’s
feelings is way more important than winning any game.
- Your responsibility
doesn't end with good intentions. If the other person feels hurt, wronged or even uncomfortable by your behaviour, don't do it. Take time to understand and explain.
doors, hold the lift, help with bags. Practise chivalry for no other reason but that you are a gentleman.
- Respect not just girls,
not just people older to you, but everyone. You have an even greater
responsibility if the other person in not as strong as you.
- Never be an unintentional bully.
You might not always win the game but you'll win over many many more people and that, dear H, is way more important and much more fun too. This is a BIG thing and needs plenty of practise, but you'll get there. And like I always say 'You are the best'. I know that.
Hugs and love,
We've had our 'big talk'. And I am hoping it made some impression. Have you handled similar queries from your son/nephew/friend's son? So how do you teach a boy to be chivalrous without being sexist? How do you tell him he doesn't need to do this because the other person (girl or not) is weaker but because he is stronger? Mothering, I tell you... is a hard hard task.
Linking to Write Tribe's super initiative '7 days of rediscovering your blogging grove' where we blog seven days in a row according to a format. The idea is inspired by Darren Rowse. Today we had to 'ANSWER A QUESTION'.
Go find some more answers at the Write Tribe blog.
Labels: boys and girls, chivalry, H, letter, Write Tribe. Festival of Words