The Parent Trap: Fighting their own battles – like it or not

Eventually you have to come to the realization that, no matter how hard you try, your kids have to sometimes fend for themselves. I learned this from Henry.

Henry has a problem with my daughter, so he also has a problem with me. For all of you who are wondering how I could write about a child and use his name in a story, let me put your minds at ease. Henry is not his real name. The film Regarding Henry happened to be on television last week. Don’t ask me to rationalize how my brain works.

Henry’s problem with my daughter always seems to occur during the ride home from school in that Lord of the Flies environment often called the school bus. I don’t have positive memories of my time on the school bus. I was banished from the bus in sixth grade, simply because of an argument with a safety patrol boy. I still think the Mother Superior of our school (not a very happy camper, even on good days) over-reacted.

But none of that matters now, so long as my little girl is allowed to ride home in peace. But Henry doesn’t like when she talks too loudly to her friends. He doesn’t like when she sings. He really doesn’t like when she reads aloud. It bothers him when she tells everyone how much she loves her cat. In other words, there is no reason for him not to like her, but he doesn’t. So he gives her a hard time.

Ask her and she’ll tell you all about it, in very animated form. The latest incident involving spit balls was the end of the line for me. So I did something that I really do not like to do: I complained.

The school official was understanding, and conceded that these things should not happen. But when you have nothing but a kid’s first name, what can they do? So you tell your kid to avoid people like Henry. You tell them to stand up for themselves, but not too much as to start a fight. You could try talking to his parents, but I’d bet money that they have no idea about darling little Henry.

So I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Henrys will always exist, and often, they will make my kids a target. I’ve decided that sometimes, I have to let my kids take matters in to their own hands, and trust that they listen to their father instead of acting like he did in sixth grade.

It’s either that, or I starting looking for Mother Superior.

The Parent Trap is a weekly column by Patrick P. McNally that will appear on every Tuesday. See others here. Read other NEast Philly columns here.

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