Our eldest son has been bullied in one form or another since pre-school. Some of the perpetrators whose stories I’ve become aware of had reasons for their behavior. Some had anger management or learning or behavioural difficulties, some were going through genuinely tough times in their lives. The evidence very strongly suggests that our little man seems to be a natural target for kids needing to blow off some steam. We’ve gone down the path of talking with the teachers, the childrens’ parents, and we’ve even sought counseling. We’ve tried a multitude of different avenues and the problem continues to resurface.
The upshot of all of this intervention is that all of his counsellors have told us there’s nothing to worry about, and he’s actually a very well adjusted young man. We did have one very expensive child psychologist tell us to keep the screen time down to less than two hours a day. We do try, but seldom succeed.
It has recently gotten so bad that we’ll be changing his school for the second time in his academic career. He’s eight years old.
His reaction to the situation makes me simultaneously proud and exceptionally sad. I fear my mom-o-meter of pure parental pride and emotion may just overload completely.
It upsets all of the adults in his life that he doesn’t seek intervention or report the incidents. He doesn’t talk to the duty teacher, and he doesn’t even talk to his home-room teacher about it. As an adult I assume it is because he is ashamed or doesn’t want to seem like a tattletale. After talking to him at length about it, it seems he’d just rather not deal with further confrontation, and chooses instead to carry on back to class where he is, for the most part, considerably safer.
His teacher makes no attempt to hide the fact that she enjoys our cheeky eldest child a great deal. Her, and his GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) teacher have both expressed fondness and appreciation for his academic ability, but even more, for his humour and temperament.
My husband and I have a terrifically colourful vocabulary. The result of being exposed to our constant swearing has meant our children find it quite normal and more than a little tiresome and appalling, and choose not to swear – seemingly ever, despite the fact their peers often do. (An unforeseen parenting win, and long may it continue!) At any rate, I checked, and his teacher confirms this.
Our son is very small. Which of course comes as no surprise to either of us as throughout our academic careers we were both close to, if not the tiniest in our classes. He’s smaller than most of the five-year-old new entrant kids in his school and as such, he gets carried around and thrown about like a rag doll. It breaks his heart, is emasculating, and his gentle disposition means he is not one to retaliate. His grandmother insists that he should turn round and wallop the perpetrators, and then they’d leave him well enough alone. We’ve encouraged him to take up karate or some other form of martial art, but he is utterly disinterested, and would rather stick to playing his drums and video games and reading his comics and books.
What our wee man lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in intellectual prowess and advanced vocabulary. He’s your stock standard geeky first-born kid. He relates better to people pretty-much any age but his own. He does not want a large group of friends, and he does not crave attention.
I started writing this blog a couple of weeks ago. Every day my first born baby has come home with a new story of some playground incident, from his hands being pried from the monkey bars so he fell down and cracked his jaw, to being pushed violently out of the queue at athletics day, to being excluded from play or teased.
He battles on, and saves the tears for when he gets home.
Tonight I looked into his big brown eyes, framed by Snuffleupagus-length lashes, and I told him that this being a kid shit doesn’t last forever. I told him that all the stuff that makes it hard for him at school right now, is exactly the stuff that is going to make life easier for him as a grown up.
He hugged me. And his eyes got a bit watery. And he said in an earnest and moderate tone generally reserved for grandfatherly figures: “Well, I think I’d much rather struggle through the kid part, because you are a grown up for much longer.” He paused, squeezed me tighter and continued: “It just feels like the being a kid part lasts forever when you’re going through it.”
So tomorrow I send him back out into the trenches. His words, humour, self-esteem, and the knowledge that he is Loved and respected for exactly who he is by countless people (including his teachers, parents, and the handful of kids who “get” him) are his armor.
Thanks for reading.