“Oh, sweetie,” the boy’s mom says, “he just likes her. He thinks she’s pretty. Don’t you think girls are pretty?”
I decide to let him handle it.
My son scowls enormously at the mom. “What does her being pretty have to do with hurting her?”
“Oh, he’s not really hurting her. He’s just trying to get her attention.” The girl’s mom is nodding in agreement. “Don’t worry, she’s fine.”
The girl’s expression is the very image of exasperation. And OB does it again. “OW! Stop it!” the girl finally snaps. “That hurt!”
My son steps forward, spins the other kid around by his shoulder, and punches him hard enough in the gut to drop him to his knees. “Oh my god! Scotty!” his mom yelps. “What do you think you’re doing?!” she yells at my son.
He looks up at her. Shrugs. And says, “I think he’s pretty. I just wanted to get his attention.”
The mom glares at me while she collects OB off the ground and pulls him out of line. “Aren’t you going to say something?” she yells at me. I nod. Put my hand on my son’s shoulder. Look at him meaningfully. “Well-played, sir,” I say. He beams at me. “You PRICK!” OB’s mom shouts. My son looks shocked. “-Language-!” he says to her. They storm off.
My son turns to the girl, looks her up and down, and says, “You -are- very pretty. I’m sorry I let that boy pull your hair. That was not okay. He needs to learn about consent. It’s a thing.”
They spend the rest of the line-up chatting about consent while her mother looks embarrassed and confused.
My son gets to Santa. Santa asks him if he’s been good. “Weeeeellllllll,” he says, “I just punched a kid who wouldn’t stop pulling this girl’s hair.”
Santa looks at me. I nod. Santa considers. “I’d say you’ve been -very good-, then.” He gives him an extra candy cane.