Thursday, September 21, 2006

Peanut defends himself

The new school Peanut attends is in a different economic bracket than the one previously. The strange thing is, there isn't that much difference except this school has kids who live in the projects attending.

As many of us may or may not know, kids in lower economic status, regardless of color, tend to have more behavior issues mainly because the parents (most often the 1 parent, which is mom) are working their ass off to provide for what little they have. They're scraping to get their kids new clothes every year, a coat to wear by winter and shoes that don't have holes in them.

However, this also means parents have the propensity to respond to their kids in one of 2 extreme: they are either too tired to deal with behavioral issues on their own, so ignore them altogether until someone forces them to do something (usually school) or they beat the shit out of them because their patience has worn out and tolerance is no longer available.

Today was the 4th day for Peanut in his new school and already I can tell his teacher does more breaking up verbal and physical confrontations than teaching. There is one boy in the class who seems to have no remorse whatsoever, who constantly teases and berates the other kids and who also becomes the teachers shadow daily. Today that kid decided to tease Peanut, calling him 'white.' (For those of you who haven't seen Peanut for yourself, check out my flickr link on the sidebar. He is actually biracial, Filipino being his other half, but he looks mostly like his father.)

What was his response to the kid calling him white? Peanut punched him. I'm not sure where, I just know he did.

I asked Peanut to look at me and then asked what he saw. His very simple reply wasn't surprising, "You're my mom."

(Kids tend to see their parents as immortal and encompassing all identities whether it actually applies or not.)

I said, "Yes, but what color am I?"

Sort of getting the point, he said, "White."

"Exactly. You are me and your dad, not just one or the other. Why did it anger you to be called white when that's exactly what half of you is?"

"I don't know, it just did."

"Well, next time anyone says that to you, you remind them you are both white and Filipino and both are equally good."


You see, Peanut hardly looks white but the kids know I am because they've seen me. 2nd graders are at an age when socialization is key and they have most certainly figured out how to push an individual’s buttons. I told one of the girls in line this afternoon that if she pretends whatever the aggressor is doing doesn't bother you, they stop. She looked at me like I was nuts. I reassured her it would work, and then promised her it would. (Just for the record, she still looked at me like I was nuts and kept stealing side glances as we walked down the hall.)

3 weeks into the school year and already the kids have picked up on how to piss their classmates off by getting at the parents who, in most cases if not all, are the kids pride and joy, regardless of what the reality is.

In the end I told Peanut that it wasn't the fact he defended himself that angered me, it was how he choose to do so that did. And he agreed.

He still won't be able to play video games on Saturday while at his dad's house despite the easy admittance he was wrong.