A sense of dread has set in.  It comes the same time every day.  Around 12:00, I begin to feel my stomach tighten.  It’s almost time to pick Isaac up from play-school, and how the day may have gone is anybody’s guess.

We have been going through a tough spell recently.  Despite his obsessive interest in letters and sounds and pre-reading and his love for numbers, pretend play and his friends, Isaac has trouble listening and following directions at times.  I know… he’s three, and I’m not all that worried about it except that in addition to having the attention span of a gnat, he’s also having trouble with another child in his class.  Now, I am in no way absolving Isaac of his probable wrong-doing in this situation, because I can pretty much bet that if either of my children are in the vicinity of mischief, neither of them were innocent bystanders. However, Isaac has been punched, kicked, and spit on by this kid, and quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of it.
While I’m trying to teach Isaac respect for others, the virtue of being a good listener and of following directions, and the importance of just being a “good” boy, he is being beaten by another child.  Isaac has a pretty foul temper, and I suspect I know where he gets it, but mix my bad attitude with his daddy’s size, and there’s reason for concern, so teaching him self control and how to manage his emotions has been a long and arduous task.  And I think we have made great strides in this area, but now I see that I am going to have to send the “mixed message”.  
I do want Isaac to be in control of his feelings, and I don’t want him to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat, but I also think there is great value in learning how not to be a doormat for others.  I can hear the emails being typed right now accusing me of condoning violence. Well, save yourselves the trouble because I openly admit that, at times, I do condone violence.  It is my belief that sometimes you just have to lay the smack down on certain individuals when they don’t respond to polite requests.  It’s not that I would ever want to hurt someone, but when it comes down to them or me, well… I’m sorry, but I favor myself.  Despite my foul and sometimes sudden temper, I spent many years as a child who was too “nice” to protect myself.   Bullies don’t care that you are choosing to do the right thing; they only want to beat someone down, and if you let them, they will continue to do so.  It was a hard lesson to learn for me, and it took a pretty big event to really drive it home; however, I have never forgotten what I learned.  
God wants us to love one another, but I don’t think He expects us to sacrifice a love of ourselves in the process.  Self-protection is not an act of aggression; it is simply a matter of loving ourselves enough to keep ourselves safe, and I see nothing wrong with that.  Besides, if I know my child, it will only take one encounter to make his feelings known.  It may be politically incorrect to say it, but sometimes a good punch in the mouth is what some people need.  
I hope Isaac had a good day at school.  I hope that things went well and that everyone played together with no problems.  I hope that not one child spent a moment of unhappiness in that classroom today.  But if anyone hurt Isaac today, I hope he went after that person with everything he’s got.  And then I hope it never happens again.