The Sword is Mightier than the pen.
I’m making a phone call: “I have to talk to you about the behavior of your child. He hit another student. And now I have to suspend him. “
“Well… what did the other child do?”
“Are you sure? I have told my child that if someone touches you, you hit them back! What did the other child do to my son?”
“Ma’am, your son is the one who hit the other boy.”
And then there is always a pause. I believe the pause is the parents waiting to be scolded. I believe they are waiting for me to judge them and tell them they are wrong. That they are horrible parents. Because that is what they feel. I know. They tell me how horrible they are as parents. But I don’t. I don’t judge them. And it leaves them off balance.
I understand. I understand that no parents wants to send their child alone into the world without having the permission and the skill to protect themselves.
Because I used to say the same to my daughters. “If they hit you, hit them twice as hard! I do not give a shit if they suspend you from school, you protect yourself and I will get you from the office.” My oldest daughters know these words very well. I was a single father, and I would tell my kids not to let anyone hit them. “Don’t start it, but end it!” Somehow I felt that I was empowering them. I felt like the world was not going to be able to abuse them, because my children were not going to be weak. I’m not sure if it had to do with my children or if it had to do with my childhood. I wanted to be a good father and somehow if my children were not powerful it meant I did not do my job. They are also a part of me and if they were weak, I was weak.
Now I am in charge of the climate of the school. I have to protect everyone from everyone. Kids, parents and teachers against each other. I have looked into the eyes of my school parents and I can see the desperation. I am trying to teach about colleges and political jobs that will change their world. And they wonder who is going to pick up their child from school that afternoon.
“I understand that you want your child to protect himself, but there will be a ceiling. If he is still punching people in high school, he will go to jail.”
They pause again; this time it is for a longer time. They look off into the distance, and I wonder if they know I speak truth. How many loved ones have gone to jail?
I want our school, our families, our kids to be more. It’s not enough to have them become doctors and lawyers, they need to become congress people and change policies. That kid needs to change systems, communities and generations of families. But first he needs to believe the pen is mightier than the sword.