Vocab Lessons and Cajones

This morning while I was making oatmeal with raisins the boys were sitting at the table playing with their new little K'Nex robot things and a random four-eyed alien from a McDonald's Happy Meal.

Henry: Calvin, what's that called again, when someone gets their head hurt and then one eye is bigger than the other one?

Calvin: Concussion.

Henry: Yeah, compussion.

Calvin: Con-CUH-ssion. With a 'cuh' sound.

Henry: Oh yeah, concussion. Well, when this guy (holding up the four-eyed alien thing) gets whacked on the head by this guy (holding up the robot), then he will have a concussion, only TWO of his eyes will be bigger than TWO of his other eyes. It's like a double concussion. (He cackles at the thought and Calvin smiles condescendingly.)


So there's been this seven-year-old on the bus this year who decided to hassle Calvin. It was rather heartbreaking when I first found out about it, because Calvin didn't tell us it was happening until a couple months into the year.

And actually how I did find out about it was through Calvin losing his patience with Henry and yelling, "Just go away! You stupid funking* idiot!!!"

Yeah, not a proud moment. I was horrified and stunned because we have been eliminating "freaking" from the household vocab, and I know for a fact that "funking" (or the real word - and I still am not sure if the boy on the bus is saying the real word or if he also uses Calvin's version) has never been uttered in our house, in or out of earshot of our children. We do not use that word. Ever.

So I asked Cal where he heard that and he told me that this boy on the bus calls him that every day. "What? Why?" "I don't know. I get on the bus and say hi to him and he says, 'Hi, s-f-i Calvin.'" After grilling Cal a bit to make sure there wasn't more provocation on his part, I was really angry and upset. David wanted to get on the bus with Calvin the next morning and give the kid a what-for.

I met the kid's mom at a get-together and she laughed off their "being boys" and I didn't push back much. I'm chicken. But I also didn't want to make it worse for Calvin on the bus or undermine his ability to deal with things by rushing in - that can be disastrous, especially for a boy.

We mostly just left it alone after that and told Calvin that he doesn't have to say "hi," and he doesn't have to say anything else to the boy if the boy is going to be rude like that. Well, OK, we told him that if he wanted to, he could tell the boy the shut his filthy mouth. But that it was probably better just not to talk to him at all.

(Cal has gotten really social, and we sent him to school with the thought that he should be polite and talk to people if he wants to make friends. That's what was sad - he's using his hard-won social skills and saying hello and then he gets answered like that, first thing in the morning. Every day.)

Anyway, he stopped talking to the kid and the kid mostly stopped hassling him and we've gone on.

Then Calvin saw the kid's dad at the embassy Easter party on Saturday. He went up to him and said, "I just wanted to tell you that your son has been being a real bully to me." His dad asked, "In what way?" And Calvin told him, "He calls me an s-f-i every time I say 'hi' to him on the bus." So his dad went over right then and talked to his boy and came back and patted Calvin on the head.

We knew nothing of this. Calvin decided to do it on his own, then told David about the conversation with the kid's dad later.

I don't know why, but I get a lump in my throat just thinking about my gutsy little boy, standing up for himself to someone's dad like that. But I think coming from a fresh-faced, serious little boy like Calvin, the dad was more responsive than he would have been to accusations from another parent.

I wish I could say Calvin got his cajones from me, but all the same I am so proud of him for deciding that he wasn't happy with the solution of ignoring, so he talked to someone who would do something about it. He is learning that he doesn't have to like or be friends with everyone and it's OK, but I am also glad that he understands now that if he is uncomfortable in any situation, he can say something about it.

I mean, it's lots better than giving the kid a concussion, right?

*Is it totally bad that "funking" makes me laugh? And we've never corrected Cal or told him what the word really is - he used the wrong word even to tell the kid's dad. It's just so pathetic and tender or something. And somehow very funny to me, especially since Calvin is sooo particular about how things are pronounced and what words really are. But I'm OK if he thinks it's "funking" forever. He does know to never, ever say it.


Sir Nottaguy-Imadad said...

You are bringing up a gutsy kid. I wish I had been able to stand up for myself as a child. For a while, I must have thought my name was Matt. (As in DoorMatt)
Compussions aren't any fun. Been there, done that.

Jenny P. said...

And now I want to meet Calvin almost as much as I want to meet you.

LeesOnTheGo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LeesOnTheGo said...

...ditto MommyJ...
Your 2 little boys are so very much like my own and run into such similar life situations. I really appreciate reading about how your family responds to them. I hope that one day one day our paths cross in the wide FS world in which we live.

Our family is moving to our next post this summer. If it's okay with you I'd like to use your "First 100 Days" theme.

Z. Marie said...

Thank goodness my 8-year-old still hasn't come into contact with the "F word," in a correct or uncorrect way.
But good for the poor boy for standing up for himself. We've had some real issues with a couple of kids at our international school the past couple of years -- not that I doubt it won't also happen when Laura starts school in Virginia next week.

Katrina said...

Oh no, poor Cal. I'm so sorry that he's been enduring this treatment. I'm very impressed, though, at the way he's handled it, and at his willingness to say something to the dad. What a great kid you're raising!

Blog O' Beth said...

Perhaps I am hormonal and I don't even know your kids (except through the blog) but I'm all teary from this story. OH MY GOODNESS HOW PROUD ARE YOU? I would be exploding right now if my kid had done something like that. Holy Cow! That was incredible for an adult to do otherwise a sweet little boy. How brilliant and wonderful of Calvin!

NOBO said...

I read this post a couple of days ago and then my computer wouldn't let me respond. And I've been thinking about it since.

I was overcome with pride when I read what Cal did. Truly. Then I just got so happy and could only think, "That boy is going to do juuuuuuuuuust fine." What a good, brave, confident, and smart little boy.