The Joy of Parenthood
Meeting tomorrow at David’s school. Stressing out.
I hate it when parents won’t accept that their kid might not be perfect. Don’t want to be like that. From what I can tell, the situation is this:
The jocks and the skaters at this school have been in constant conflict for the last two years. In the words of the principal, “There’s always these kind of tensions, but I’ve never seen it as bad as it is with this group of boys.”
David is a skater punk. He dresses in ratty-looking jeans down around his butt, he has long hair, he wears dark T-shirts and an army jacket and wool cap. The principal has made no secret of the fact that she doesn’t like his hair or his clothes.
There are a several jocks who pick on David and on his friends. They’ve had run-ins in the past, including a couple of fights. It appears the jocks are under orders lately from their parents and/or coaches regarding their interactions with the skate punks, but that doesn’t stop them from talking *about* them. It’s all very well to say they don’t fight or call them names to their faces, but it’s small comfort when to everyone *else* they call you “fag” or “fat f**k”; when they smirk and snort at you in the hallway; when they sign your name in childish script on the basketball sign-up sheet, whatever. Some of it seems like such insignificant stuff from an adult’s POV, but it’s not to a kid. I remember what it was like when middle school was such misery; when getting ready for school made me feel sick to my stomach because of how I was treated.
David has made things difficult by adopting a tough-guy attitude, by not backing down when the jocks harass him, by taking things personally, by giving as good as he gets, by reacting to their put-downs, which is exactly what they want. But I think all he wants is a little respect – I believe him when he says he just wants to be left alone – I don’t think he goes out of his way to make problems with the sports kids.
Because I remember jocks from when I was his age. Broad brush: after military people, jocks are the least empathetic, most competitive group of human beings I know. It’s an aggressive approach to life; it’s about winning, about competing against yourself, against each other, against the world. Later in life, I became part of that group at times. It definitely has its benefits – it’s healthy physically, it teaches discipline, persistence, etc – but it has negatives, too. Jocks tend to harass and belittle and each other regularly, and it works for them – if you’re in that world, it’s all part of the game – but they have no idea how that feels to people who aren’t in the group, and usually, they don’t really care.
Anyway, the other day David shoved one of the jocks who he says picks on him a lot; I guess the guy was standing in front of the water fountain and refused repeated requests to move so David could use it. And they had words in the locker room, where David also didn’t help himself…
David looks at Nemesis Jock (who appears to be under wraps lately, other than the water fountain thing and calling him “fag” and making jokes about him behind his back)
Jock: What are you staring at?
David: Well, watching you get undressed makes me feel good – I’m a “fag”, isn’t that what you’ve been saying?
Jock: You’re a…
David: I’m a what? Go ahead and say it, b****.
I’m sure Nemesis Jock has no idea the depth of resentment David still carries about all the previous harassment. I’m sure he feels he’s bending over backward lately to accommodate David’s aggressive belligerence. And I’m sure he tells his dad David is a menace to society since apparently the father has now written a letter to the school threatening to call the police if they don’t control David.
So tomorrow should be a fun meeting; can’t wait to hear what they have to say…