Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Here Come The Bullies.
Take yesterday's "You're stupid!", and in case that wasn't heard, "You're of low-intelligence!", both of which were shouted at my kid by the pitiful ruffian. Forget for a moment that this couldn't be further from the truth; in this context I'll refrain from rattling off incredible grades and test scores that took my breath away, because that's irrelevant: it shouldn't matter either way. In this moment, my child's very character was being labeled in a way that's untrue and unfair. Sadly, I can only guess that the perpetrator's character is regularly debased by his parents. Maybe, or maybe not, one of them says that he is "of low intelligence", because which 8-year-old speaks like that anyway? Why else would cruelty slide off of his young tongue so easily?
Now what happens when the language becomes not just mean, but threatening? Take yesterday's, "If you say you're best friends with Jamie, then I'm going to hurt you!"
Having a conversation with the parents won't make any difference. I've seen their passivity on the playground more times that I can count. These parents allow their 8-year old to watch Friday the 13th films and World Wrestling Federation matches, and I have no idea what video games he's into. If they hear these slights tumble from his mouth, they'll tell him not to say those things, but there is no understood consequence for the behavior. It's accepted, plain and simple.
What should we do in this situation? We work hard to teach Jamie that he's not a victim; rather, the other child has a problem, and in fact we might feel sorry for this kid because clearly he's hearing this abusive language somewhere, whether it's inside the Wrestling ring or on the Disney Channel or out of his parent's mouths. We try to teach our kid to brush things off, to laugh in their faces, to try not to give it any notice... to not show them how much it bothers him... but doesn't he have the right to live in a safe world where his space isn't threatened like this?
For now, I hold my tongue on the school yard. After asking for advice from other parents, and reading articles on the topic, I've crafted a letter that I've sent to the school principal, his teacher, and have cc:d a school counselor who I know very well and trust implicitly. We'll see how this goes.
Let me add that when I posted about this on Facebook asking for advice from friends, I felt tempted to take the post down. If I'm being honest, I felt ashamed of not being able to solve it on my own and make it better. The Band-Aids don't work for these unseen Boo-boos that haunt him the most before he tries to close his eyes at night. I'm working through this, trying to identify these feelings. I don't want to over think everything, but in the case of children and threats and violence, I don't think you can over react or over think.