When my oldest, Andy, was in kindergarten he got into a fight on the playground. He was shoved, he threw a punch, and he landed himself right in the principal’s office. At the time, I was horrified. We had long talks about not hitting, using words and walking away.

“But Mom! Is it ever okay to hit? What about fighting bad guys?”

I thought about this for a while, and then said, “Okay. If you see someone hitting your little sister…not just teasing her, but really, physically hurting her…you have my permission to beat the snot out of them.”

He lit up.

“Really??”

“Really.”

He gave me a curt salute and ran off to play. That was the beginning of my raising vigilantes.

Andy hasn’t gotten in a fight since, but his sense of fight has purpose now.  Last year, when his little sister, Kate, told him a boy in her kindergarten class was teasing her, Andy leaned over the breakfast table, looked her straight in the eye, and said soberly, “You just tell him you have a brother who’s in second grade who’ll be watching him.” Then he pointed to his eyes with two fingers and pointed back at an invisible bully. With that Kate knew she’d be safe at school, smiled and got her backpack ready.

While I don’t condone picking fights, (he never did have to confront that pint sized rascal) I love the fact that my Andy and Kate, “The Bickersons,” stick together on the outside.

The protective fire has ignited in my four year old, Luke, too. He and his little brother, Dean, go to the gym’s childcare during my morning aerobics class. Apparently, there is a little boy in there who pushes Dean.

“What did you do when he pushed Dean?” I asked my miniature super hero one morning.

“I looked at him like this…” Then he proceeded to give me a stare that he thought could cut through glass. Though I’m guessing his steely glare went unnoticed by the perpetrator, Luke was confident his look could kill.

“You can speak up too, Luke. Tell him that it’s not cool to push little babies.”

“Okay, mom.”

So this morning at breakfast, when we were going over the day’s schedule, Luke told my husband,

“If that kid pushes Baby Dean again, I’m gonna do this…” Then he gripped my 6’5” honey by the lapels, pressed his button nose against his father’s, and said in an icy voice worthy of a Clint Eastwood western, “Hey man, that’s not cool! Don’t push my brother!”

I think that kid’s baby pushing days are numbered.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate and mother of four small children. You can read more on her blog: www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com