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?