Category Archives: The Charlie Chronicles

Bullies: A Dad’s Dilemma

Bullies: A Dad’s Dilemma

(This article can also be found at The Huffington Post.)

Is there a benefit to the schoolyard bully in terms of our survival? Lately, I’ve been pondering this upon recently witnessing my seven-year-old son, Charlie, being pushed around in the playground after school.

It started off innocently enough at the jungle gym when a kid from Charlie’s class began grabbing onto him from behind and restraining my son. I decided not to intervene as I wanted to see how Charlie would react and was a little disturbed at how acquiescent he was.

Later that night, I asked my son whether he liked being grabbed by this kid and Charlie expressed that he didn’t know what to do as he was being held from behind. It dawned on me that perhaps my son had taken our family’s non-violence philosophy a little too much to heart. I emphasized to him that, should this happen again, he should first tell this kid to “Back off!” – and if that didn’t work, a gentle elbow to the ribs would be acceptable.

A day or two later I once again picked up my son from school and brought him over to the adjacent playground to let off some steam. Sure enough, there was the same classmate, along with his older brother and another larger boy. No parent of theirs was in sight; and no sooner had we arrived than Charlie took off for the adjacent woods along with the other boys. A moment or two passed before I realized where he had gone as I was also tending to my baby daughter.

I quickly headed into the woods where I found Charlie being held captive in some sort of ‘superhero’ game. As my son came into view, I heard him shout “Back off!” His classmate stepped away, only to have his brother step in and put Charlie into a headlock.

That’s where I stepped in.

Coming out of the woods, I told Charlie he wasn’t to go in there anymore, and that I didn’t want him interacting with those kids. My son couldn’t understand why I felt so upset as he perceived the whole thing as part of the game. He didn’t grasp the power issues that were on display and, to my horror, didn’t seem to mind being picked on. For this seven-year-old, who yearns for acceptance, having these kids manhandle him was worth the price of being included in their game.

Should I have stepped in at all? How much should parents intercede in these sorts of situations? One dad at my son’s school, whose own son was being bullied during recess, felt it was his duty to meet with the principal about it. Another dad I know recently shared the story about how his daughter was being physically harassed by a girl in her class and after countless failed attempts to get the school to intervene, he finally asked a policeman friend to pay a visit to her school.

Where does the balance lie between being a helicopter parent and the hands off, ‘just let kids work it out for themselves’ approach? As a dad, I’m still trying to figure this out. Back in the 1970’s, when many of the suburban kids from my generation were given much more free reign to wander about our neighborhoods, the schoolyard/neighborhood bully was even more pronounced. Certainly, if my parents ever got a whiff of all the skirmishes I got into, I know it would have afforded them little sleep. Fortunately, minus a few cuts and bruises, like most kids, I managed to survive and learn some neighborhood smarts as a result – and yet, I may have fared better if there had been a little more supervision.

While we drove together to fill my car with gas, I spoke at length to my son about how these kids in the playground did not have his best interest at heart and that, if this interaction continued, Charlie would eventually get hurt; but no matter how I tried to explain these things, my son couldn’t really understand them and I realized that he will just have to discover these things for himself. Thinking about it further, maybe it’s just better this way and maybe there is some value to the schoolyard bully in terms of toughening our kids up a little.

We can’t build force fields around our children and, even if we could, I don’t think we should. At the end of the day, all we can do for them is to be present, to show them good examples of how we conduct our lives and to give them a safe haven to retreat to when needed. We also should give them tools to better handle life’s challenges, along with a lot of love and encouragement. Beyond that, all we can really do as parents is just to hope and worry that the rest turns out okay, because it’s their lives, not ours.

For Charlie On Your Seventh Birthday

Dear Charlie, I can’t believe you are now Seven-years-old. Where does the time go? Wasn’t it just a moment ago that I was rushing back from the Hamptons Film Festival to get to the hospital in time for your arrival? Holding your new sister in my hands in recent days brings me back so clearlyContinue Reading

Second Nature

Of all the things that happened this summer, I think the most meaningful moment for me was teaching Charlie to ride his bicycle. Perhaps the experience was made all the more meaningful because, for all of Charlie’s gifts (and there are many) coordination just hasn’t been one of them. So, to get the boy atopContinue Reading

How To Build A Time Machine To Your Childhood

(This entry is also posted at The Huffington Post.) Have you noticed that as we get older we require larger amounts of stimulation to engage us? That what once excited us when we were young now doesn’t hold the same potency? Be it the sugar in our food, the coffee we guzzle, our hectic schedulesContinue Reading

Charlie’s Batman Monologue

For those of you who enjoy watching Adam West in Batman – The Movie, here is a testament to its enduring value. Enjoy!

What The Evolution Is All About

That’s what the Evolution is about for me: it’s about moving towards a time when there will be no real distinction between Stay-At-Home Dads and Working Dads. They will all just be… Dad.Continue Reading

Watching EOD With Charlie

Sometimes before Charlie’s bedtime on non-school nights we watch films together. It’s a treat to share classics like Singin’ In the Rain or Star Wars or The Ten Commandments together and it reminds me of viewing movies with own dad from when I was a kid. Tonight, however, when I asked Charlie what he’d likeContinue Reading

Bedtime Reading As Redemption

Every night, what usually goes on in my house, like so in many homes all across the world is the bedtime story for our kids; and like most households we have our collection of Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry and Mo Willems stories. But tonight, as Charlie and I settled in for his bedtime story, something unexpected happened.Continue Reading

New Trailer Coming…But first..

Hey there! Well, the new trailer is done and we are so excited about it. Stay tuned as it will be posted this weekend. If you are on the mailing list, we’ll immediately let you know once it’s up. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share something on the ‘lighter’ side.Continue Reading