Friday, September 14, 2007

Angry Mama Bear Post

Lately, Joshua and I have gotten into the habit of talking about school before bed. I love the quiet, intimate talk, sometimes whispered, between the two of us. I am happy that he opens up about who his friends are, what games they played in the playground, funny things he or his classmates said or did.

But last night's conversation worried me.

Are some of your classmates naughty?
J: Not all. J is sometimes naughty but sometimes not. D is naughty because he hurts me. And calls me names.

D hurts you??!!
J: Yes. But you know what mommy? It doesn't hurt anymore because I have an invisible shield around my body.

Why does D hurt you?
J: Because he said I'm new in school.


I couldn't sleep right away. He fell asleep a few minutes after while I was stroking his head and pushing his curly hair out of his face.

I was angry and sad that this has come up so early. That my little boy has conditioned himself not to feel the pain being inflicted by someone else. I didn't think I would have to deal with this situation at this early stage. They're only in kindergarden, for crying out loud!

So I'm at a loss. The school doesn't encourage hitting back (of course). My first instinct is to teach him how to fight back and I know there are conflicting schools of thought about this. Yes, I know violence begets violence. I've read the literature and the experts' opinions on it. And of course, I forbid the siblings to hurt or hit each other. We don't believe in spanking and have enforced discipline through time outs. This has worked for us and the kids.

But faced with the reality of my child being bullied, well, makes me angry. Really angry. But I decided last night to swallow my instincts and work with the school. I told Joshua to tell D to stop hurting him. I believe his mentor used the words, "verbalize". I hope it works. And of course I will have a talk with the principal and the teacher about these incidents.

Because if it doesn't and I learn that it is still happening, then all bets are off.


What would you do if you were in my shoes?

21 comments:

Pacha said...

I've been thinking about this too. Everyone I talk to tells me I should teach Javier to defend himself and hit back. But I can't afford to. I can't have my kids hurting each other (more than they already do, of course!). I have taught him two wrongs don't make a right and am proud that he understands this. BUT BUT BUT I have seen him be picked on. I have seen how he retreats into a shell, how at the first opportunity he will hide, if he could have one special power I know he would choose to make himself invisible. (He is so not invisible).

As for bullying (different to kids fighting/arguing which I let them get on with) I have to hold myself back from throwing myself in to defend my children (with fists raised!). Sometimes I don't hold myself back! Sometimes I wait. Sometimes I regret waiting. Sometimes I think I should let him try to resolve the problem on his own. I too say the important thing is to explain how these people are making him feel to someone. I am so scared of him retreating and not telling me if he is in trouble.

I think you are going about it all completely the right way - in a first instance. If the bullying continues speak to the child's mother too. Who is this D? What is his problem with newly arrived kids?

Caroline said...

It's so difficult. If he turns and hits back then he may be seen as a bully. What you need to do is encourage this continued openess between you and J - go into the school or approach the mother of the child. Let J know that you'll make it all better ... and then cry in a corner on your own!

It is so hard. I have been where you are and my J did turn and hit back (just once). This led to the mother of the bully turning on J and saying that he was bulling her precious child! I then had very little argument, as my J had hit back out of frustration. I wish that I had spoken out earlier at school.

sigh.

It is so hard being a mummy.
x

kj said...

mench, i think getting the school involved and on notice is the right step. as for "self defense", i believe in it. not to hit back, but to stand up and say "don't do that", and then if needed "don't do that or else". the "or else" might be telling a teacher or a pop back.

kids and adults can push around others because perceived weakness makes them nervous. that's the psychological speel on it.bullies have their own problems, of course.

bottom line: you are a good mom and your instincts will be modeling something for joshua that will begin to help him for all his life.

:(

Menchie said...

Pacha,
I too have been getting conflicting advice from my friends and family. Amazingly, this has never come up when my siblings and I were in school. I only found out recently that my youngest sister and brother used to bully some kids in school but not in a roughing up sort of way. Now i know why my youngest sister always had a LOT of cute erasers when she was in grade school. tsk. tsk. tsk. am so ashamed.

But I will be having a talk with the principal. and then we'll see. Their grandma is outraged that some kid would dare to hurt her precious grandchild. So I have to calm her down too!

Caroline,
yes, it is sooooo hard to be a mommy. And I am praying that he will always be open with me on things like these.

kj,
it's pretty clear to me that I need to get the school involved. but i know what you mean about the "or else" part. I have talked to Joshua to be very firm in telling D to stop hurting him. But I have seen the boy last Saturday at a school affair and saw him grab Joshua's hat and hold it up over his head. Josh was able to get it from him but I could tell he was upset. It took all my willpower not to intervene though I did walk over to where they were lined up.

sometimes I don't know if I am being too overprotective.

SabineM said...

well You need to speak to the teacher. Maybe he/she can take a look at what is going on! Sometimes kids tells us things and we misunderstand them. It made me sad to read what your son said. Yet I would approach the teacher and have her/him look into what is going on and then move on from there!
IT is soo being a parent. We want to shelter our children from all this pain!

Ces said...

Menchie, I was faced with the same situations at school for both kids when they were young. There is a no bullying policy but children are sometimes afraid to tell because they do not want to be accused of being a snitch. I always went to the teacher and told her about the bullying. The teachers took care of the situation right away. I am glad I did not have to go to the principal. I was ready to go to school and punch the bully. My son was different. He did not tell us but this kid kept pushing him around. One day my son took care of the situation (he was in first grade) and punched the bully. The bully cut his lip. My son was not penalized because the teacher knew all along and had warned the bully. She said "I think M finally got tired of it." I hate bullies. Right now I am dealing with a bully, my mobile phone company - Sprint.

Aidan said...

Two options

1) go to headmaster/kinder teacher. Voice your concerns, try and make sure that the bully concerned is not aware that you are doing so, so that your son is bullied because mommy stepped in. Teacher may have the ability to keep a closer eye on your son. or keep the bully at bay.

2) TEach your son to fight, next sign of trouble tell him to hit his bully as hard as he can in the nose. He will get into trouble, however, i doubt the bully will come near him in future.

I was bullied and had the snot kicked out of me on a regular basis as a young man, i wish i had the confidence and strength i have now, because option 2 is the one i would have taken.

I hope your son is ok.

kj said...

i'm reading these comments and i have to say IF J is comfortable fighting back (he may not be), one pop in the nose ought to do it.

sorry to be advocating violence...oh well, maybe it's just keeping things balanced.

whatever happens, being loved by your family makes everything possible...

:)

Menchie said...

sabinem,
i definitely will do that. although sometimes i think that the size of the class can really tax a teacher -- she can't see everything that's happening. There are 24 students in his class -- the morning classes are full. Most parents have the same idea -- when they get to prep level they will all have to get up early in the morning. Best to get the children used to waking up at that hour. But yes, I wish i could have spared him all that. But i know I can't.

Ces,
Talk about going to the school and punching the bully. I wanted to do that. Go there and pick him up by his shirtfront and scare the living daylights out of him. that was my first instinct. *sigh*

I'm talking to the principal first because she is his assigned tutor (each student has one). She is primarily responsible for keeping track of Joshua's progress in school and has regular tutorial chats with us.

Aidan,
I really appreciate the personal perspective. You have voiced my fear -- that he will get picked on more because of the perceived "tattling".
Option 2 is still an option. I am not above telling him to hit back if it means he will never get picked on again. I know how mean kids can get even if they are still children.

kj,
I am actually keeping my violent tendencies in check and trying to see if the "system" will work. josh is a very good boy and when i asked why he didn't hit back, he said because hitting was bad. I am thus treading between being consistent (i discipline them when they hit each other) and itching to teach him to toughen up and fight back. I guess I will see what the school can do first.

On an aside, do you know that on Faith's first day, a little boy who was a lot bigger than her, gave her a knock on the head in the playground (on purpose!)? I was there when it happened. Faith turned around, yelled, "Hey!' and gave him a knock on the head too. I don't think there will be any worries that this girl will be bullied. My husband says she is so like me.

Keshi said...

Here in Aus Bullying is taken very seriously. Cos it can hv damaging and lasting consequences on the child who's being bullied.

Menchie if I were ya, I'd go n speak to the teachers. I'd report it and take some action b4 it's too late.


Keshi.

Don said...

Menchie,

Simple lang.

Tell Josh to stay away from the bully. Constantly remind him to avoid any contact with the kid at all costs. Para wala nalang gulo. If this doesn't work, it is time for you and Josh to pay a visit to his teacher or a person of authority in Josh's school.

Now if nothing happens, tell Josh to hit back, hit hard and not to stop until the bully is down and out. If the bully is bigger, tell him to bring you or Jun to teach the bully a lesson.

Violence does not beget violence. Violence just happens. Even if you are just minding your own business, keeping to yourself and being nice, some people including some kids just look for trouble. The first and most important thing to do is avoid or be patient para wala nalang gulo. But there will be times you have to use force because this is the kind of language certain people (i.e. bullies) understand.

Using force is not bad at all in certain situations. I know it will be difficult to teach when to use it but it must be done. Siyempre medyo confusing but knowing Josh (he seems like a nice boy) He would know when to use it especially through your patient guidance.

Menchie said...

keshi,
i know about the possible long term effects of bullying which is why i am so worried. i will be speaking to his adviser/tutor about it. :(

don,
hey! thanks for dropping by!:D i agree with what you said about some people/children just looking for trouble and victimizing people who are minding their own business.
I am hoping it does not come to the point where Joshua will have to hit back. But I agree that he will have to show firmness and/or aggressiveness the next time the bully gets near -- even if it's to tell him to stop, or else.

Marie said...

I can understand what you must be going through. It must be terrible to know your child is being bullied. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation. I'd certainly be angry and want to fight back for my child, but that wouldn't really do anything in the long run. I would definitely talk to the principal.

I was bullied at school and so I really hate bullies. Children can be so cruel.

Hope you get it sorted.

Grundir the Implacable said...

I would crush the bully with an iron fist.

Menchie said...

Marie,
i'm sorry to hear you've been bullied in school. most people would think it's usually boys who get bullied but I think girls can be meaner.

grundir,
um, could you come over please?? I'll give you carte blanche.

Hildegarde said...

Dear angry mama bear, that is upsetting indeed. I think your action plan is very good. It's also an advantage that you have such good contact with Josh, so you can follow this closely and take the necesarry steps. I wish you strenght and hope this problem is over soon.

Keshi said...

good on ya!

Keshi.

SabineM said...

Menchie
Even though they are busy. If you mention the issue at hand, the teach will be aware of it and better able to see what is happening first hand.
Have you spoken to the teacher yet?

Nicole said...

I have never mothered a child. But this is my advice:

Give him the best advice you can. Teach him your beliefs, your values, and he in turn will learn them.

Don't encourage violence, but I do believe you should teach him the difference between violence and self defense. You may not want to encourage any sort of violence. But he wont be able to run from every situation.

Whether self defense means physically defending himself, walking with a friend, or informing a professor about the situation, its something that he should learn to do for himself.

Menchie said...

Hildegarde,
Thank you. I am thankful that Joshua confides in me.

keshi, :D

sabinem,
I will be bringing the kids to school on Tuesday next week. I want to make sure there's time to discuss with the principal and I wanted it face to face. I have been speaking to joshua everyday about what happened in school and so far, so good.

nicole,
For someone who's not a mother, you've got the right instincts. There is a difference between violence and self defense.

Ces said...

Good for Faith! You go girl!