If it takes a village to raise a child then how does a single mom bring up a boy to become a man all on her own?
I have baited plenty of hooks with squirming worms and managed to not throw up (at least not while he was watching). I’ve played with cars, guns and swords, have been cast in a million imaginary scenes as Cowboys, Indians, Pirates and villians of all sorts. I’ve occasionally been the damsel in distress rescued by my knight in shining armor, have faked a passion for everything disgusting and have wrestled with my boy far longer than I wanted, with him growing much stronger than I thought possible. Ouch! Is there such a thing as battered mother syndrome?
And to pat myself on the back, I like to think I have done a pretty good job, thus far. But I could see the “man tank” verging on empty and when a boy beat my son up at Baseball camp last summer, with free reign because my boy refused to fight back, I knew it was time to help him “man up”. But how? It’s not like I could do a Chaz Bono and change into the man he needs in his life. I grew up in outback Australia and can de-horn a cow and castrate a bull with the best of them but there is a limit to just how far I can fake it and I’m afraid I’m just not makin’ it. And it’s not like I can just “insert husband here“, although my son often talks about having me do just that and to be honest I would LOVE to be married and have a man in my life but it just hasn’t happened. So what to do?
When everyone heard about the bullying and the beating Kai was subjected to, or for those close to us who saw the bruises, scratches and imprints of this kids foot on my son’s back having decided to kick him while he was down clockwork orange style, while my son lay on the ground crying and begging him to stop, the very first thing they said was a resounding and unanimous chorus of, “You need to teach him to fight!”
Hmmm. I was the mother who banned all toy guns from the house, including make believe finger pointing guns aimed at me. I’m a lover, not a fighter! Gun’s don’t kill people, people do! And if you wonder why I didn’t call the police on this kid it was because Kai had stomped on this kid’s foot first, admittedly after being bullied and teased all week long, called a baby, retard, fat and stupid. 45 minutes before the week long baseball camp finished (and a planned and timed attack) this boy and his friends circled my son and ramped up the bullying to which Kai threw a cup of water in his face and stomped on his foot, running away (and yes where WERE the adults/carers there to protect my son?) I also didn’t call the police when a few months later he threatened my son again when they were down the street and another time when he chased and terrorized Kai through the local streets, forcing him to take refuse in a back alleyway, calling 911, his friends having been left behind in his terrifying run for his life.
Had I known this kid’s name I may well have made an official complaint but I didn’t and while it was a seldom occurrence, the kids attending different schools and my son no longer doing baseball, I figured there would come a time when I would see him again and then I would take down his details and deal with it should it happen again. Oh and by the way, I DID try to speak to the mother the day of the first beating, but she just shrugged her shoulders at my son’s lifted shirt and bruises and replied with a, “I no speak English!”
So summer came and went and in one of life’s ironies the bully is now attending Kai’s school, no doubt expelled from the last one for whatever havoc he created there. Hey, I’ll give the kid the benefit of the doubt (for now), maybe they moved closer to this one than the last. Hmmm. I knew it was only a matter of time before the threats of “I’m gonna kill you” would be uttered again as they had on the streets before. Instead of emailing the principal of the school asking him to watch out for my son (Cause those who have read previous blogs at www.chasingoprah.com know how that went lol), instead and for the sake of my son I manned up and enrolled him and me in Krav Maga – the Israeli army defense forces form of martial arts.
But here’s the thing: kids with Aspergers do NOT like to try new things so it is always a battle getting them to experience and stick with any new training regime/sport. And so, like any new “adventure” we embark upon I did my research and found out as much as I could about the sport, the instructor everything. Blessed by a friend who knew a friend who knew a friend I was introduced to Amir Perets, one of the world leaders in Krav Maga, inducted into the martial arts hall of fame, a national champion and thankfully for me (and Kai), his training academy is in Beverly Hills.
I showed Kai the video clip from Amir’s website and it certainly helped that he had a walk on role in one of Kai’s favorite movies Drillbit Taylor. It also helped that Amir was the star of his all time favorite X box game Grand Theft Auto (before modern warfare existed). Amir had filmed all the fight scenes for the character Nico, which was who Kai “became” when he played the game. Kai loves guns and wants to be in the military or the police force (a great job for Asperger kids who LOVE and LIVE by “the rules“ and order). So I knew that the key to creating a connection with Spergy kids was thru what they like but I had barely even started introducing them when, I have to admit I was a little surprised, when we were there to just “have a look” (which we try to do for anything new) but before Amir could even finish his sentence, offering Kai a chance to try it out if he liked, Kai was across the room and in fighting stance before you could say, “Don‘t mess with the Zohan!”
We’ve only done a few classes and I am already seeing a new boy or should I say, young man, emerging. There is a light in his eyes that shines a little brighter and he definitely walks a little taller. He has three hard core buffed military men training or sparring with him at any given time, in a class of adults including me. He leaves me behind in the warm up and punches with a determination that makes me proud. He did reprimand me for trying to hug and kiss him before class and that did make me laugh. He’s growing up!
Amir has his eye on Kai the entire time and I see a boy who just wants to please the strong, brave and protective father figure he has never had but always wanted and needed. My son has a real life hero making a very real difference in his life. He works harder and applies himself more than I have ever seen him do. Amir is teaching him there is nothing to be afraid of. He is helping him get in touch with the fighting spirit that has kept him hopeful these last few really tough years. He is introducing him to the concept of the right to survive. It’s not like Kai is going to pick a fight with anyone – he is the kindest most gentle boy I have ever known, but knowing that if any of the many boys (and some parents) who have bullied Kai over the last year and a half should as much as lift a finger toward him, then he will not be afraid and if walking away isn’t an option then he can, if need be, stand firm, protect himself and most assuredly prevent them from ever picking a fight with him again.
It’s the smallest of things that can change the course of a child’s life and I am so grateful to Amir for taking my baby bird under his very broad wing because every training session under his belt, the bullies get smaller and his heart gets bigger and as a single mom to a son, that is PRICELESS!