Back To School
My Archenemy is a Seven-Year-Old Boy and I’m O.K. With That
Bully my daughter? Be prepared for the wrath of soccer-Mom
One shouldn’t have an archenemy unless you identify as Spiderman, Batman, or Superman.
I’m not central to the Marvel or DC Universe, megaverse, metaverse, multiverse, or whatever our dystopian future holds. But I do have an archenemy. At the time of reckoning, he was 7 and I was 41.
Things started out innocently enough, as these blood feuds often do. I was volunteering at my daughter’s elementary school, helping her classmates with reading. For an hour each week I listened to second graders read at a faux wood table in the dimly lit hallway outside of Classroom 3 at “Lacking imagination, someone named this cinder block after the street it’s on” Elementary.
A few slicksters timed their bathroom breaks every week during designated reading time, but for the most part, the kids were delightful, engaged readers and tried their best. My favorite was cherubic Johnny (not his real name, lest the blood feud continue.)
Johnny seemed perfect. He was on time, respectful, worked hard, and even said he liked my sparkly Hello Kitty cell phone case.
Around this time, my daughter began telling me stories of a “mean boy” who terrorized the playground. I’d ask her his name, what he did that was so mean, and whether she had told the playground monitor about his behavior. If you’ve ever tried to follow a coherent narrative from a seven-year-old, you know that the snippets of information I was able to glean didn’t amount to much. After weeks of prodding, I learned his name was “Knee,” he was mean, and more than one kid needed a visit to the nurse after a game of four-square with him.
Of course, I mounted a Law & Order-type investigation and turned the information I gleaned over to the authorities. The teacher and playground monitor listened sympathetically. They emphasized that the school did not tolerate bullying of any kind and assured me that no student named “Knee” was roaming the playground/prison yard wreaking havoc. I couldn’t shake the sub-text of the head nods and smiles. “We understand dear. Last week your daughter told us she flew to the…