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.
2 thoughts on “Our Son the Bully Magnet”
I am so familiar with this as my darling daughter has had the same issue and she is now fourteen. Recently she has decided that she needs to be the resident champion for Human Rights In particular “Gay Rights” at our local high school and on the internet which seems to get her in no-end of trouble considering the religious stance of the vast majority of the children who attend the aforementioned house of learning. I am so very proud of her because most girls of her age are obsessed with boys/clothes and anything but politics and are generally disinterested in anything other than themselves. It seems so wrong that she should be harrased for protecting the rights of others which is what she has done throughout her schooling…..always befriending the kids that other children don’t want a bar of…….so my advise to her is always keep being who you are because at the end of the day it’s the people who stand out in this world that are remembered, not those who follow the crowd.
My son is a Bully Magnet as well. Ever since he has been a toddler in the playground if there is a bully around they will appear to torment him. Many times they have done so right in front of me or his dad. We have tried to deal with it from every angle. He is now 9 and he is in a class with many friends who appreciate him and he thrives with. I have thought that this year he seems to be in a better place but yesterday he told me that he was being tormented again. He sounds alot like your son. His teachers enjoy him, he is very intelligent. He talks to me about what happens which is a good thing I guess. Sounds like many kids suffer in silence. But I am at my wits end and just Binged the universe for help.
The usual advice has been followed – he is in Karate and is fantastic at it. He has been advised over and over to not react when his buttons are pushed, a hard thing to do I realize, but I have believed that if the reactions the bully seeks don’t happen, then they will walk on. Not sure though. Why him? There are other sensitive, kind, smart kids out there and this does not happen to them. I am feeling the pain for him so intensely at the moment that it is hard for me to write. But I wanted to reach out to you. I hope that you find some answers.