The first couple of times I blew it off, not wanting to add weight to cruel words by acknowledging their effect. A few platitudes repeated about how we don’t say mean things, even if others do. Advice given to just stay away from the three little boys that seem to think it’s funny to call her “fat.”
After the fourth time I took a different approach. A few hours were spent working the heavy bag in the basement. I told her about how no matter how big or tough somebody was, a quick jab to the base of the nose would blacken their vision for several seconds, a knee to the solar plexus leaving them unable to catch their breath. I dusted off some of my old DVDs, starting with Bloodsport, Kickboxer and several other of the early Jean-Claude Van Damme films.
That’s obviously not what I really did. There may be a time when some boy on the playground deserves to be knocked on his ass, and I’ll support her if that happens, but there needs to be more justification for a physical response than just words said. ( There probably needs to be more justification for a physical response than just words said, we’ll make that determination at the time. )
No, instead I taught her the art of shit talking, how to identify attributes or insecurities that could be exploited in retaliation for mean things said against her. We You-Tubed old episodes of Wild N Out, watched all the Comedy Central Roasts other than the one where Donald Trump announced he was running for President and meticulously studied the rap battles in 8-Mile. It might not be OK to teach her to break noses, but I was convinced she was ready to break somebody’s spirit.
OK, I didn’t do that either.
I actually didn’t know what to tell her. The truth is that she is going to face situations like this for the rest of her life. Not because she actually is fat, but because that’s how some people are. Some of them are show offs, trying to be funny in front of their friends. Some have their own insecurities that they are attempting to deal with by trying to bring down others. I’ve become convinced that there are some people that are just filled with sadness, a hole somewhere inside of them that they need to find others to blame for, a cruelty that they just can’t shake.
Instead I taught her the perfect comeback, the one that I always used as a kid when teased about my glasses, my braces, or any of the many other ways that I found to present myself as the biggest dork possible : “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”
If that doesn’t work, there is always tattling.
This post was previously published on Thirsty Daddy.
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Photo credit: Jeremy Barnes