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Robin Gorman Newman Headshot

My Son, the Anti-Bully Bodyguard

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Seth announced today, as he bolted out the door for the school bus, that he's a bodyguard.

"For whom?" I said.

"Ariel," he replied. "A girl in my class."

"And, why does she need a bodyguard?" I asked.

"Some kids are saying not nice things," he answered.

I kissed him good-bye, and thought, Okay, they're 8 years old, and it's starting.

But, it had actually arisen before.

Last year, at the end of school, a mom of a boy in Seth's class shared that Seth had spoken up to some kids on her son's behalf. She was hugely impressed and appreciative of his efforts and self-assurance, and wasn't sure if I was aware. I wasn't, and thanked her.

A couple of years prior, Seth, himself, had an unsettling experience in school after lunch. He called them the bully girls, and complained of female students chasing him during recess. It sounded as if they admired him but didn't know how to express it. I asked if he spoke up to his teacher, and he said he told the recess attendant, but things weren't improving. I then called his teacher who said she'd explore.

I asked Seth to name them... he couldn't, and I sensed he wouldn't even if he did. He's proud and wouldn't want a mom intervention. That could potentially lead to more bullying in his mind.

What's a mom to do? I didn't want to dismiss his discomfort.

The bully girls are no longer an issue, thankfully, but other kids are. Not for Seth, but for his friends. And, Seth is coming to the rescue.

I'm proud of him, but concerned. Will he one day encounter someone tough to stand up to? Seth isn't striking back with aggression. He is telling bully kids to cut it out. I don't know if they're listening, but he speaks from the heart and truly cares about the well-being of others. He has a strong sense of right 'n wrong.

Seth has long been a Rescue Hero in the making. That's when he's not busy being a CSI Investigator, SWAT Team member, Policeman, Fireman, EMS worker, Spy or Power Ranger.

He has an impressive collection of baseball caps emblazoned with a wide array of motifs fitting these various bills. He has costumes replete with pants, vests and accessories that further feed the frenzy. On top of that, he has Nerf guns, play handcuffs, flashlights, invisible ink pens, etc.

Add to all that a widely vivid imagination, and you never know what can result.

I witnessed it firsthand at an impromptu play date. He and a friend rode bikes up and down the street, but when the paraphernalia and role play started to break out, things took a more complex turn. I was watching them and then retreated briefly to my office where I could see them out the window. I learned I can't turn my back for 5 seconds.

The phone rang, and it was my next door neighbor Jill. "Do you know that Seth and his friend are stopping traffic?"she said. I was stunned... thanked her for calling and ran out the door.

Seth was on one side of the street in front of the house, and his playmate across the street, and they strung plastic rope across the road so cars had to stop. They put out plastic cones Seth plays with when creating a construction zone. They proclaimed they were stopping cars to make sure drivers were wearing seatbelts. They took huge pride in pointing out the Fed Ex truck they had also stopped, and how the driver thanked them for so diligently trying to protect people.

I ordered them off the street and explained how, while they meant well, there are people in this world who might not embrace their efforts. Seth then showed me a hammer (real one) he had taken from our garage, and demonstrated how he could defend himself. Part of me was glad he had thought of that, but I didn't want him in a fight.

Whether standing up to bullies or enforcing what feels right, I know my son comes from a good place. I'm grateful he has strong, positive values. These aren't easy to instill. But as a mom concerned about the welfare of her child, it's not easy to watch when he launches into action.