Yog runs to me with urgency and purpose in his stride, his chubby legs trying to keep pace with the thoughts running in his mind. Concern is evident all over his red face. I am certain he has a very important matter to discuss with me. Huffing, he exclaims, “Big boys are beating small children on the road. I told them to stop but they are not listening.” I sigh. Not again. Why do boys fight? Calmly, I tell Yog, “You did a good thing by telling them not to fight. I am happy that you didn’t get into the fight, yourself.” Yog’s expression quickly changed from concern to frustration. I assumed he was looking for a different response. Without wasting another second, he ran inside to speak to his father. Minutes later, he rushed past me again with a stronger urgency and purpose, shouting over his shoulder for my information, “Papa told me to go and beat the big boys!” My jaw dropped as I fathomed the consequences.
I don’t need to elaborate on what happened next. I never got a chance to know who won the fight. My mind was in shock at how my little boy and my very own husband resorted to violence. I hate violence. I always believe peace can be achieved through constructive dialogue. I now know that the men in my family tend to disagree with me on the same.
Today, I had an opportunity of catching up with a childhood friend. We were both laughing at stories of our children. Especially, how her 4 year old daughter roughs up boys in her class to get to what she wants. My friend was concerned about her daughters behavior, but I really couldn’t have been happier to hear this, given my own recent experiences. Since the experience with Yog beating big boys on the road, I have learnt to accept physical violence as a form of natural expression and an essential trait that kids should be comfortable with. While peaceful dialogue should be the first choice, children should also be comfortable with physically standing up against abuse and defending themselves or someone who needs protection.
Given the genetic make up of men, I think, this trait comes easier to majority of the men. I, for one, grew up in a family of 4 women. We had no brothers, fathers or uncles who mentored us. I went to an all girls school and an all girls college. Fortunately for me, even in the family that I married, aggression of any kind, is non-existent. As a result, I had never witnessed or participated in any physical form of aggression till little Yog came into my life. By default, my instincts told me to change him, to tell him that violence is bad. Fortunately, he was able to teach me an important lesson before I could teach him much. I learnt from Yog that violence isn’t always bad. After all, it is a natural instinct to protect oneself and survive.
As we marveled at how kids these days fend for themselves, my friend also told me the story of how her elder brother had gifted her a hockey stick as soon as she got her first Kinetic scooter. He also said, “Sister, you need to hit only in two places to get the results!”. We laughed out loud recollecting the story. Later, driving back home, I thought about the story and wished someone in my life had also gifted me a Hockey stick. I wished I also knew there were things like a Hockey stick I could use to keep myself safe in my growing years. Till date, most of my self defense mechanisms simply include running for safety or calling for help. Today, I appreciated the true value of having a Big Brother and more so of a Hockey Stick.
I still believe, life is all about balance and fine choices. While my daughter is a Taekwondo Champion, I still teach her to use physical violence as her last resort. I still believe dialogue can solve most situations. However, I have also learnt that dialogue works better when both parties know that the other party cannot be simply subdued into consent. While we should be trained and ready to use physical aggression at any time, we should know to restrain ourselves and use it as a last resort.
Lastly, go ahead and gift your version of a hockey stick to your loved ones. I pray that no one ever feels the need to use a hockey stick for protection, but in case they do, they should never end up being a victim, just because one of us didn’t gift it to them in time.