FILED IN: Child Behavior

Kick or Be Kicked

The school called today — again. My daughter kicked another first grader, which is bad, very, very bad. Truth be told, the other kid probably deserved it.  I know which child it is, and she’s the kind that only a mother would love. Come to think of it, I don’t like the mother either. Besides, I distinctly remember first grade, and I never kicked, hit or bit anyone that didn’t specifically ask for it. And since my daughter takes after me in all other areas, we can safely assume that she inherited this trait from me as well. 

To hear my daughter tell it, what happened was inevitable: “She was blocking me from my stuff. I asked her very politely (yeah, right) to move, and she just stood there staring at me. So I kicked her, to make her move.”

I hate it when people block my way. It makes me want to kick others too, but I am in my mid-thirties and possess a little something called ‘self control’.  This is why I don’t slam into other cars at the traffic light, even though it has been green for a full five seconds, which the other driver doesn’t notice because she is too busy yapping to her therapist on her cell phone. Or why, while shopping, I don’t beat the crap out of other shoppers that stand so close, that I could easily count their nose hairs. What would happen, when a pissy little housewife tsk-tsk’s me when I stand in line and don’t put the plastic thingy down in the correct place, if I just walked over and slapped her? But I don’t, even though I want to.

Self-control is something my daughter has learned, and wholeheartedly rejected. This is unfortunate, since social convention in most grade schools demands that children not inflict physical harm on one another. So what do I tell her when she gets home? If I tell her no child deserves to be kicked, I would be lying.  Plenty of children deserve to be kicked on a regular basis, including my own. I can’t explain about social expectations very well; she’s six and she doesn’t give a damn about such things. 

I can’t punish her too much, because she was already punished enough at school; we don’t want to pile it on indefinitely.  I guess I’ll just go through the motions, and have The Talk, which will go something like this:

“You did a bad thing. Do you understand how bad it is, what you did?”


“Do not do this again, you hear me? Mommy hates getting phone calls from school. It makes me feel bad. Do you want Mommy to feel bad?”


“Never mind. Promise me you won’t do this again.”


“Good. Now go play.”

Then I will bitch a little to my husband about why I always have to deal with the phone calls, and why our children aren’t nicer, and I will forget all about it until the next drama unfolds.

Things were so much simpler in the seventies. I remember one specific incident, when I kicked a boy who I anticipated was about to do something. What, I don’t know, because I went ahead with the proverbial pre-emptive strike.  The kid was a head taller, and had about 20 pounds on me. When he went crying to the teacher, she took one look at me (scrawny, short, and wearing glasses) and started laughing. “Her?” she asked, “You got kicked by her?” And she walked away, shaking her head.

I ignored the implied insult to my not very imposing physique, and focused on the positive: I had gotten away with something. The power trip that went on inside my head that day has stayed with me until far into adulthood.  I may not be very impressive, but I can always kick you and get away with it. Just having this knowledge is worth a three-month session at the Dr. Phil house; you can’t buy that kind of self-esteem. It’s a little sad that my daughter is missing out on this experience; besides, both my husband and I are firm believers in the adage “Kick or Be Kicked”. 

Also, in retrospect, she probably did the other kid a favor. I found out later, from the child’s mother, that the girl in question had that very morning kicked her own brother. The mother was of the opinion that she deserved it. So, in that light, my daughter performed a public service today. Maybe I should do something special for her tonight.