Monday, March 3, 2008

Long Past "Poopy-Head"

Casey, who is almost nine, came home from school last week and remarked at dinner that "Nolan called me a fat asshole today." She wasn't complaining as much as reporting on the day's events. When I asked her how she responded she simply said "I told him to blow it out his nose." You go, grrrrrl!

We had practiced the "blow it out your nose" retort weeks ago and she's used it to good effect a number of times. Generally the boys (it's almost always boys who throw out the first verbal punch) then try in vain to recoup their mojo by actually saying "OK" and pretending to blow their nose. Casey was delighted when I pointed out that by doing this they are actually complying what she directed them to do, thus underscoring her control of the situation. Verbal jujitsu in action!

As recently as last year she would get pretty bothered by insults, but with coaching she's grown to handle them in a much more conscious and assertive manner. She consistently follows the first rule which is never to defend herself. Rather than engaging in a argument on its merits she immediately confronts the verbally abusive behavior by going directly after the perpetrator. It's a strategy straight out of the teachings of Patricia Evans.

Here are the retorts she has at her ready. I pity the fool who thinks he can score an easy victory at her expense.

"Who cares what you think?" A good basic comeback.

"Tell it to someone who cares." Similar to the above, this automatically puts her a half step above the fray.

"You're boring." This is quickly deflating to any little boy who is looking to gain a reputation as a provocateur.

"Grow up, little boy."
I think this is my favorite reply, because the deepest fear of a pre-adolescent spouting pseudo-adult insults is to be outed as a "little boy".

"What's wrong with you?" This immediately puts the spotlight squarely on the perp.

"So what?" An old stand-by, a variant of the "So?" used by the cartoon character "Little Bill".

"Blow it out your nose." This is so unexpected that it almost always catches the perp off-guard.

"You just don't get it." This is a very effective response because it leads the boy to momentarily harbor the dreaded secret possibility that he indeed does not "get it".

Finally, I told her that if all else fails and she is repeatedly tormented then she has my permission to use a very specific "R-rated" phrase. I warned her that if she uses it more than once a year she is over-relying on it. Some readers may be very sensitive to cursing so if you want to know the phrase you have to email me. She asked about the possibility that she could be suspended for using it (and she's probably right) and I told her I give her my complete blessing and support if this occurs. I also said that if someone threatens to tell her parents that she should reply that's who taught her to her in the first place.

By the way, the picture above is a scanned image of Casey's drawing of mean things boys have said to her ("Your freak....your a martian.....I'm gonna draw a picture of you and use it as a dartboard") and the retorts discussed above. Freedom through art!

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