The phone rings. My neighbor tells me, “My son just called, crying hysterically because your son punched him in the nose. My son thinks his nose is broken.”
“My son?” I say, with disbelief.
“Yes,” she says, “My husband is on the way home. Would you mind going over to check on him? When he called me, he could hardly talk.”
I rush my younger kids into the house, grab my keys and speed ten houses down the street to the kid’s house. I find the victim lying on his front step with a towel on his nose. A zip-loc bag full of ice cubes sits by his side. He shudders and cries a little. I examine his nose, which to my untrained eye appears to be unbroken. Thick blood rims both nostrils. I cannot believe my son–who is nowhere to be found–is responsible for this.
The boy tells me his brother and another boy were fighting. He went to break it up and my son punched him in the nose.
So, when his uniformed father–a soldier who’s been to Iraq–pulls up moments later, I offer the story and my opinion that the nose does not look broken. I apologize and he says, “Boys will be boys. When I was growing up, I broke my brother’s arm.” This confession consoles me. Then he says, “There has to be more to this story.” Really? That hadn’t occurred to me, but obviously, there must be.
I drive further around the circle, stopping at the other boy’s house. My sons are not there. When I return home, somewhat in a huff, I find them trying to look invisible.
I separate them and interrogate.
Their story is that another boy was fighting with the victim’s brother. The victim rushed over to–what? Intervene? Punch someone? We’ll never know, because my son grabbed him to stop him. The victim threw a punch, my son threw a punch, the victim grabbed my son, my son turned to run and whacked the victim in the nose with a random backhand.
The victim maintains that my son punched him straight on the nose. The other five boys, including the victim’s brother, corroborated my son’s story: the damaging blow was an accident.
Nevertheless, my son–who told his story with tears streaming down his face while he begged to know his punishment–has been grounded. He shouldn’t have interfered, shouldn’t have grabbed anyone and certainly shouldn’t have thrown any punches, even if they didn’t land.
The ironic thing is that the boy my son was defending is a weasel who doesn’t like him and whom he claims to dislike as well. The victim with the bloody nose, crying on his front porch, is his best friend.
And the whacked nose was not broken. I hope the friendship remains unbroken as well.
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Update: The boys are still friends. The kid who was bloodied came over tonight so he could go to youth group with my sons.
Disclaimer: Should you happen to know me and my family in real life, please do not mention this incident to the boys. They don’t know I have a blog. As I attempt to balance their privacy with my exhibitionism, a stray comment from you to them might cause all my spinning plates to crash to the floor. And we don’t want that now, do we?