Like most little boys, I was taught that you do not hit girls. Unfortunately, one of the neighbor girls knew this. I was probably between six and eight years old, and this little girl loved to torment me.
She made it a daily habit to come over and pick on me. Eventually, her abuse started to involve the use of sticks. She would grab bits of branches or sticks lying around and began beating me with them. I did a pretty good job of hiding the torment from my parents. For one, she was a girl and I wasn't allowed to fight back. And, it was embarrassing.
My attitude towards a number of things changed one day. The little girl had came over, and in her customary way she began hitting me with sticks. Thankfully, my mom happened to look out the kitchen window and saw what was going on. She flung the window open and yelled, "John, kick her ass!" I did. The girl never bothered me again.
The situation taught me several important lessons. Key among them was the respect for sticks. Getting hit sucks - but you can take it. Anything life throws at you can be dealt with. Second, I determined that if a person steps up like a man then they can take a beating like one - regardless of gender.