I just got an “out of the blue” Facebook note from an old friend in a “member when” style. She was wistfully (I imagine) remembering some highschool scenes, which I have long since repressed, about my brother and I. Here’s what she had to say:
I thought that perhaps this was advice that would be useful for many of you tens of readers that I have who are clamoring for my baby-raising advice.
Things are good here.
If I had to wager a guess I would recommend the following:
* Make sure that your kid… (what’s his name, by the way?! I’ll just call him Allison Jr. for now. and also he’s very cute) doesn’t hit a real growth spurt until junior or senior year of high school at the earliest. This will help to ensure that wit will become his primary defensive strategy.
* Tell Allison Jr. over and over again how everyone should be treated the same. Take this to extremes. Like, for example, give him the ultimatum of inviting everyone or no one from his school to his Bar Mitzvah party even though everyone includes Brad Lenning. This will drive the point home.
* Make sure Allison Jr. knows that violence is never the answer. This won’t be hard if you succeed on the growth spurt issue because he won’t be that big, but it will build character by giving him years to practice not letting words bother him too much. Later of course he will learn that, though it be rare, every once in a while physical intimidation and violence may just in fact be the answer. But by that time the earlier lessons will have made the threshold for that circumstance exceedingly high.
* Make sure to put Allison Jr. in a school system where he is surrounded by many kids who think they know what the hell is going on. This will also stretch his mental faculties for social analysis and witty repartee as he strives to figure out how so many had figured it all out so quickly and easily while he continually struggles. Their assumptions of understanding, and his perception of their understanding, will also lead to a revelation much later in life that in fact no one knew what the hell was going on. Once that happens it’s home free.
As far as the confidence goes… just make sure his embarrassment levels are high, but not extreme, over the course of his adolescence and nothing should bother him too much once that’s over.
Also, be careful what you ask for…
“Wit is far more often a shield than a lance” – Anon.
“Wit is cultured insolence” – Aristotle