To start with, there are two categories of people that an average child would face in those days…if defeated by an age-mate.
The first set of people were the spectators- mostly fellow mates- who were (at best) entertained by the fracas. God save you from their taunts (and turns in bullying you…since it’s now established that you are not strong)!
Then, the second and most dreaded set would be the parents. Especially if one had parents who preached FIGHTING BACK-if dared by your age mate.
SORRY was usually meant for the child who cried home to such parents from play…expecting a pat on the bed.
Most of them would even give you their own beating for not standing your ground out there.
And you bet…you dare not ‘make mouth’ at home all through that week.
Otherwise, you would hear (probably from siblings too) “shut up.
You are making noise at home. How come you couldn’t beat back those that were beating you-out there.’’
Some siblings would even go as far as mimicking how you cried home for ‘intervention’.
Some siblings, especially boys, actually lived for such (fights) moments. You just mess with their siblings and wait to hear mercilessly from them.
Frankly, whoever that some of these childhood experiences didn’t toughen up is probably not meant to be ‘tough’.
Mama’s response the day that I cried home from play was GO AND BEAT HER BACK.
You won’t believe the CHARGED me that rushed back to get my own pound of flesh. That reaction from me left the aggressor kid stunned.
And guess what?
She was never quick with her fists towards me again.
Mama just never tolerated the idea of one crying home from play…if “whatever it is” happened between you and your mate. She won’t even come to your rescue.
And she go smack you join… for “opening your mouth” so fast.
Next time…you simply fight back!
The day that a complaint reached Mama that my brother was fighting in the neighbourhood, she calmly admonished all concerned.
Back home, my brother (who was on the verge of crying all along) declared “if not that my leg was paining me, I would have wrestled him to the ground.”
Mama turned to him with this… “Silly boy, what happened to your hands?”
A friend also shared his own experience (below) with me:
“Mama had a soft approach to a lot of our childhood issues. But not Papa-OLD SOLDIER …as he was fondly called by admirers.
Yet, my dearest Papa was never in the army for one day. Something about his ‘military’ attitude to life was intriguing.
In those days, school administrators had a way of ascertaining a child’s eligibility for an elementary education. Your left hand would have to reach your right ear.
If not, you are sent back to the Kindergarten for another year.
Kindergarten in those days…a slate (made from wood) and white chalk was ALL the study materials that we needed.
I think I must have been sent back to the Kindergarten the second time, when OLD SOLDIER showed up in school to tell the administrators that it was no longer my ability, but my height (I am not very tall…lol) that they were disqualifying me from an elementary education.
That same day, I was enrolled in elementary school and shortly after, that method (hand-over-the-ear) was abolished.
At a time that most parents’ admonition to their children was “it is not good to fight,” old soldier’s admonition to his children was “if they beat you outside and you CRY home, I will also add my own beating.
But if they beat you and you fight back, I will wait for their parents.’’
I think they didn’t really tolerate certain weaknesses in their children.
Their formula to child upbringing worked wonders for them. It was also suitable for that era.
Most of us (now) can’t even imagine not going to raise HELL-wherever our kids are bullied!
According to psychologists, there are smart ways that parents can help children conquer bullies.
Instill confidence in the child…
Bullies lose their power if you don’t cower. They feel threatened when you speak with self- assurance/confidence.
Teach the child to set limits…
Children should learn to firmly draw the lines-if and when they feel disrespected. And still be polite about it.
Teach a child to learn to fight back…
Not necessarily throwing physical punches ‘wherever’ but learning how to put bullies firmly in their place-through strongly-worded warning/a report to the appropriate authorities, getting friends on their sides and NEVER cowering in the face of a bully, etc.
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