For those who don’t live in the State of Hockey, let me explain something first.  The enforcer is the informal position on a hockey team whose job it is to fight for the team and deal out protective blows and checks. It is also the person with the highest penalty rate!  I believe every family has a person like this. I was a second child and, to my brother’s credit, I had a hell of an enforcer! No one bothered “Jerry’s little sister”; I actually thought that was my name in middle school! However, my brother was male and tall and the mean girls swooned when he walked by, but I digress.

This year my darling daughters are going to be in the same school together. I haven’t decided if it is a good thing or a “hot mess”. You see, my third grader is tough; people generally do not faze her. Her feelings are hard to get to and if you’re not her friend, she picks up her ball and goes home! No skin off her nose. My “little bit” is very sensitive. She is the social being and is very concerned about the harmony of her friends and that people like her. At least three times a day there is a tearful report of who said they were no longer her friend. It often requires a hug and snuggle session.

My fear is the mean kids in kindergarten will sense Hayden’s need for friends and try to make her cry for sport. The fact that her big sister is a third grader in the same school could come in handy, or it might not. I am trying to work with Jenna on the “nobody-picks-on-my-little-sister-but-me” concept. I do not want her to intimidate the kindergarteners, but I do want her to stick up for her sister. Does that make sense? I am torn, I know I should be preaching peace, but I don’t know how realistic that is. I just want Hayden to have the back-up of her family – an enforcer if you will – when mommy can’t swoop in and hug the blues away. Is it odd to expect the older sibling to be the family to play that role? She may get a bad rap for being aggressive. I don’t want my third grader to become a troublemaker in her “enforcer” role and I sure don’t want her sitting out third grade, or life, waiting in a penalty box for saving her sister, but I want her to save her sister!

I need some help.  Does every family have an enforcer?  Is this something that comes naturally or should I teach a third grader to fight for the love of family? Who came to your aid when you were a kid, or were you the one in the proverbial penalty box all the time? I’d love to hear the stories!

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Hillery Smith Shay, is the Manager Brand Services at HealthEast Care Systems. A proven leader in Visual Communications and New Media Marketing, she holds a MBA, from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Haverford College. Shay is an award-winning photographer who has worked for the Associated Press and various newspapers. Hillery resides in West Saint Paul with her husband Jeff and their daughters Jenna and Hayden. She is also the proud stepmother of Erin, Ginger and Jack. Read more about her at and follow her on Twitter@crazphotochick.