"He whacked me on the face!"

When I missed the PTC last week, Teacher was kind enough to call. Your son is doing well, she reported back, but -


He refuses to go to the playground when it's playtime. All the other boys can't run fast enough to the monkey bars, she said, but every day without fail, he chose to stay in. She told me she tried to experiment by making the classroom as boring as possible - but he still wouldn't leave.

I said I had a hunch, and true enough: there's a bully on the playground.

"He whacked me on the face!"

And as easy it is for me to talk to him about sperm cells and drugs and transgender selfies, I had no idea what to say about bullying.

In college, I had a classmate tell me that if he were to have a son, he'd train him in self defense: not to fight but to fight back. I didn't want my son to be a pushover, sure, but I also refused to believe that retaliating was the only way to stand your ground. Violence breeds violence, and I will not have it begin with my son.

When he went up to teacher, he was told: "Oh no! You shouldn't be bullied, so stay inside na lang." What? No, of course not! We weren't going to let fear win: but how?

I wasn't quite sure how to handle it. I whispered something to Kito. Our secret trick. I said to just try, and let's see if it works.

Last night he told me:

"Mom, the bully sat beside me in class today. I really really really thought about it. I was really thinking." I could see in the crinkles of his forehead that he really was. "I gave him paper, mommy. And... and now we're friends."

Talking about drugs and sperm cells are easy. It's science! But to deal with a bully? When there's someone else involved? It took some figuring out. Here are some techniques I've discovered that have been really, really helpful for moments like these! If you and your kid are in tough spots, I hope you'll find these techniques helpful too.