Staking Your Turf

Our neighborhood is mostly made up of families that have children near the same age as ours. Of course, when you have five children, it is easy to find someone the same age as one of yours. As Dakota has gotten older, he has found a couple of kids in the neighborhood with which to hang out. He is a year younger than both of his friends but he is fairly mature for his age so that makes up the difference mentally. Physically, he still trails the other two boys, or at least that is what I thought. We were outside working on the yard and Dakota was playing with one of the neighbor boys. This particular kid has a tendency to be a bully and push the other kids around. I am a firm believer in letting the kids fight their own battles as they have a way of evening things out. Today, the neighbor kid wanted the baseball bat that Dakota was playing with. Dakota on the other hand wanted to play with it himself and since it was his and possession is 9/10 of the law, he felt he had a pretty good basis. The other boy was persistent and decided force would be necessary if he were to get his way. He approached Dakota fairly aggressively and out of the corner of my eye, I decided to watch this impending battle. The boy grabbed the bat and attempted to take it away from Dakota. Dakota on the other hand had a fairly firm grip which stalled the battle. With his other hand, Dakota straight armed the boy causing him to go down. The older kid was not used to losing the battle and therefore didn’t know when to give up. He attempted to take the bat again but Dakota again stood his ground and the older boy was denied. This made the older boy a tad angry and that is when he made a fatal error in judgment. He got himself up off the ground and began to march back to his house. Half way there, he stopped and picked up a rock and flung it at Dakota. Now usually, seeing a rock hurdling at your son will make a parent flinch, especially if it looks like it is coming at him with some force chest high. But in that instant that I wanted to call out to Dakota to duck, a most amazing thing happened. Standing there with a bat in his hand, he did the most natural thing he could think of. He raised the bat and smacked the incoming rock with a large crack, the rock was sent back in the general direction from which it came. Perhaps general direction was an understatement. The rock flew back and smacked the kid right in the forehead causing him to jump up and down as a big knot began to form between his eyes. Trina and the mother of course went running over to check on the would-be bully. I on the other hand went over and congratulated Dakota on a marvelous hit. My admiration for my son’s skills lasted only momentarily until Trina came over to chastise us both for being so barbaric. In unison, we both declared, “he started it.” Regardless, we were both grounded and Dakota was banished from the bat for a week. Women just don’t understand.

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