French schools were a lot rougher than the schools we have in Singapore. During breaks, the maîtresses let the kids run wild, even for pre-Kindergarteners. We knew we had a problem when Malcolm consistently avoided going to school. Initially we thought it was a language problem until we finally coaxed out of him the real issue – a kid that was always pushing him around. We taught him some Kungfu moves, some simple assertive French words, and he finally chased the bully away.
But that was two years ago. Coming back to Singapore, we were quite conscious that fighting in our schools is frowned upon and thought that we should temper Mal down. Things have been going great. Mal loves his school, and things are a lot more tame here, with teachers always keeping a watchful eye and ready to intervene. Having said that, bullying in Singapore is alive and well.
Sometime last year, we let Mal stays back in school to play with his friends. I would hang around while Marcus watched gleefully. He love to watch his elder brother and his friends play and we know he can’t wait to join them in their games.
Then a few months later, we let Mal venture out of the house to go downstairs to play with his friends on his own. They would arrange to meet at the playground or play at each others’ house. My mobile phone soon became our shared phone. I get calls from his little friends asking him to go for play dates.
It all went well, my 6 years old gets better at making new friends and he looks forward to playing with his friends. We gossip about them. We talked about the kids whom he share his snack box with, we talked about the kids who are good at playing tac and we talked about kids who go around bullying other kids. Malcolm is familiar with bullies. He had a hard time making friends in school when we were in Paris
Then during the school holiday, something happened.
Malcolm got into a fight with another kid.
He was downstairs playing with his friends when I noticed from the window this kid swinging his roller scooter menacingly at Mal and his friends. I hurried down but was too late. Mal apparently punched the kid in the stomach.
The other mother arrived at the scene at about the same time and started chiding Mal for hitting her son. Mal was indignant but was not given an opportunity to speak. Finally, I blurted out that Mal would never hit anyone unless the other person struck or tried to strike first. The mother stared at me as though I just slapped her in the face and started ranting about her son’s right to defend himself before stomping off fuming mad.
This was the first time that I had to come face to face with the parent of an “aggrieved kid”. Yet I never doubted Malcolm. As it turned out, the kid had snatched the ball that Mal and his friends were playing and threw it into the pool. Perhaps he was trying to get some attention but when ignored he started calling them names and tried to rough them around, swinging his roller scooter. Mal lost his cool when the kid pulled his shirt.
It wasn’t the first time that I saw the kid, usually accompanied by a maid, going around provoking other kids but it is the first time that I met his mum who apparently doesn’t seem to know what her child has been up to. Or perhaps she knows but choose to completely ignore ? Maybe she has yet to realise that every action has consequences and one should accept responsibility for one’s actions, even if one is just a kid.
When my husband found out about this, his response was
“You should have warned him first.”, he lectured Mal
“And by the way, you should have gone for the nose.”, he added nonchalantly.
Better a tamed stallion than a pony0