Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Stuff of Parenting

I am at a loss. There is a situation at my oldest son's school with two boys from his class-his Kindergarten class. Not long before the holiday break, Christian started having trouble with two boys who he had befriended early on in the school year. They were all of a sudden saying, "I'm not your friend anymore."  This upset Christian terribly and day in, day out, he would go to school expressing hope that maybe today, they would be his friends again. Then on a Tuesday before the holiday break, I arrived to pick Christian up at school to discover that during lunch one boy had dumped his milk on Christian, and then got the other boy to dump his milk on Christian too. The teacher was immediately on it, sent the boys to the office to talk to the Principal (Christian was asked to go to share his side of the story) and the two boys were given immediate consequences. The day after the milk incident, when I went to pick Christian up from school, he said that both boys had apologized and that they were all friends again! (Said with happy, shiny eyes.) However, when I saw his teacher on the way out, she informed me that the three of them had spent the day getting into trouble together and just didn't seem to be a good fit for each other. Actually, her words were: These three are toxic together. And then the final knife twist: It breaks my heart, because they are already starting to get a reputation with the yard teachers, and they are just so young for that. To a person who spent her life as the "good student", albeit probably mostly a People Pleaser, I felt like I couldn't have heard worse words.

The teacher assured me that she thought part of the recent trouble they were getting into was just that all of the kids were in need of a break. She assured me that after holiday break, she thought things would be much better. She was right. Things have been much better. There are still little things I'm noticing about these boys and I have theories, but mostly I try to just encourage Christian to be friends with kids who want to be his friend and not to spend a lot of time if someone is being mean or says they aren't friends. Other than that, my trusting boy forgives wholeheartedly and if a kid says Sorry, then all is right in the world again.

Today, when I arrived to pick up Christian, I see him cornered by the fence with these two boys. Christian had tears in his eyes and looked very upset. They were in clear view of arriving parents, but not in the line of sight of any of the teachers. I quickly approached and asked Christian what was wrong. He said, "Sasha poked me in the neck." Sasha immediately turned and left, but the other boy (named Elijah) began to taunt Christian- right in front of me- "Don't tell on Sacha. Don't tell on Sasha." The tone was less of a plea and more of a sing song, more of a taunt. It's not the first time I've heard this from this kid. I took Christian's hand, gathered his backpack and began to walk out when Christian said, "I need to tell you something, Mom. Elijah and Sasha were telling me at lunch that they are going to kill me. Then Mrs. Salazar walked us to the office to talk to the Principal. But it's okay because Elijah and Sasha said they are sorry and we are friends again." Sigh. Then as we walked out, I heard the sing song voice again, "You can't tell on Sasha because he already le-ft. You can't tell on him n-ow."

I emailed the teacher tonight to see if there is another side of the story. I just don't know what else to do. I told Christian it's never okay to tell someone you are going to "Kill Them". These are not okay words to use with people. I don't *think* that my son has encountered two psychopathic Kindergartners who are really out to off my son. But, I also don't know what else to do. I have been happy with how the school has handled everything. Today was the first time there has been an incident where I wasn't told first by the teacher. And despite this intermittent social situation, Christian seems to be happy and doing well in school.

This is really the stuff of parenting, isn't it? The tough stuff where there isn't always a right answer. The fact is, it might actually be harder on me than it even is on my son. How do I teach him that we aren't all perfect, and even friends will make mistakes? How do I teach him which things are unacceptable- the kinds of things that require a complete severing of friendships? Frankly, I wonder how much I will have to do with this in his lifetime. Although we first look to our parents to unlock the mysteries of how we became who we are, there are so many things and people that influence that shape along the way. So, I'm doing my best, but I don't seem to be able to make a change for him on this one. At least not yet. So, I try to just be in his corner. I might not say or do the right thing all of the time, but if my kids know 100% that I am in their corner, I think that would be a parenting win.


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My boy happy to see me home after work...














9 comments:

kirsten said...

I'm a teacher and am married to a principal. Telling someone you are going to kill them is grounds for suspension! You are doing the only thing you can do though, encouraging him to stay away from the two boys and to keep telling adults when they bother him. I'm so sorry this is happening. As a teacher I hate to hear about kids not having fun in school. As a parent, my heart breaks for you because no one wants that for their kids. I hope things get better! Worst case, go to the principal with your concerns. Maybe ask to meet with him/her and the teacher to discuss ways to help the situation.

Rachel Koda said...

Geez! That's a tough one. I went through a similar situation with Chaeli. There was a girl who was very outgoing and seemed to adore my daughter, and she was very sweet to me. However, it turns out she was more of a passive- agressive bully. Chaeli is very sweet and easygoing, so she'll usually do whatever her friends want, and this girl preyed on that. She would tell Chaeli to play with her, and then if Chaeli didn't do what she wanted her to do, same thing: "you're not my friend anymore." Every day. And every day Chaeli cried. The next day they were "friends" again, but if Chaeli didn't want to do what she wanted her to, Andrea would physically pick her up and put her where she wanted her to be. (My babies are small. lol) I witnessed this a few times, and would tell Andrea we keep our hands to ourselves, yada yada yada... Then finally one night, Chaeli was in tears at bedtime dreading school the next day because of Andrea. "I don't want to hang out with her, but if I don't she's mean to me. And none of the other girls like her, so now they don't like me!" The teacher, the teachers' assistant and myself all told Chaeli that she should hang out with people that make her feel good, not someone that makes her cry. The teacher even told Andrea that she wasn't allowed to play with Chaeli anymore, but lo and behold, I would be there volunteering and see them hanging out together again. Finally I pulled them both aside and said, "Chaeli, when you hang out with Andrea, you usually end up crying and hurt. Andrea, when you hang out with Chaeli, you get in trouble for bullying. These are the consequences of your choices. If you choose to hang out together, I won't tell you not to, but you are now aware of the consequences." Turns out the TA had given them the same sort of speech earlier that day. You hang out with her, this is the consequence. From then on, we let them make the choice, and if Chaeli came home upset, I reminded her that she knew the consequence. Thankfully, that girl's parents transferred her to another school, turns out they didn't think the teachers should get so upset about things like unfinished homework, lying, bullying and such. (Poor kid's mother was whole problem. My heart broke for what that poor child will go through. She's pretty, and bright, but her mother is a horrible example for her.) Anyway, there was a point to this story...lol... Maybe tell Christian, it's not ok for people to say such things. Then list the consequences for him of hanging out with them. Then let him "be responsible" and choose for himself. (Kai's all about "being responsible" lately. I thought it might be a 5 year old boy thing. ;-) ) Good luck Sweetie!

Anonymous said...

My kids accuse me constantly of being a "fixer". Okay, maybe. BUT, here is my idea. Support Christian in friendships that are better. I find a good sleepover builds bonds like no other. Ask him to invite a friend over and encourage someone new. Then some pizza, some fun movies and tons of sugar insert. They will have something to talk about the next school day and will have started building memories that do not involve just school.

Hope to see you Wed! Wish me luck. lol

tricia said...

Let me at them!!!! ;) I don't think the school is handling things right. When Christian had the milk dumped on him, he never should have been pulled in to the office in front of those bullies to share his side. When a kid that is being bullied is put in that situation, they have no choice but to play down what happened to them for fear of the bullying getting worse OR for fear of losing this "friendship". The consequences the other boys received should have lasted longer than just that day....like them have to eat lunch each with a different adult of authority from the school and then not getting to participate at recess....for a WEEK! What they did was far beyond just telling someone they are not their friend anymore. Christian may not be showing it that much, but this will affect him for a very long time if the school doesn't take the proper action. He will learn that adults say they are here to protect him, but what they do, only ends up teaching the bullies to be more clever. :(

Becca said...

I am speechless!!! Oh, my heart hurts for Christian and for you. :-( In Kindergarten! What is wrong with some kids? I wish I had an answer, but it sounds like those boys need a serious talking-to by their parents. So, so sad hearing how *early* bullying can start.

TheFlyProf said...

You absolutely MUST tell on them. And you must document this in writing. This is not normal behaviour and it is horribly disturbing to see this in Kindergarten. Bullying is RAMPANT these days. My kids have all experienced it. I would look those kids in the eye and say "Oh yes, I can tell on both of you and I intend to do so." Let them know that you are watching. I would come pickup early and bring a video camera (OK... I'm only a little bit psycho... but mostly a mama bear). Document, document, document.

Jen Currier said...

Thanks everyone!!! Up until yesterday, I was happy with the how the school was handling everything and Christian's attitude was proof of that: Despite the nonsense he was dealing with he wasn't much fazed by it. I think that speaks to how quickly the school responded and that he felt backed up. However, I found out today that the boys parents were not alerted yesterday and I am just not okay with that. I sent an email to the principal and exec director today requesting a meeting and shared my concerns. I also intend to contact the boys parents (who I have met before. They have seemed normal and nice)to see if we can sit down over dinner and reinforce nipping this in the bud. I will keep you posted!!

Tamara Lambert said...

I just found your blog by complete accident. Actually, both of your blogs. I love them! I'm enjoying reading and catching up! You have an adorable family!

P said...

No violent video games or shows (including BAMBI. There is death!) for those boys until they are ten years old. One of them needs therapy, maybe both. Certainly all parents should know all at this late stage AND a family meeting with a school psychologist---really, KILL? After all the trouble they were in already? Hope it was resolved & connections with parents going. Remember regardless to keep your friends close but enemies closer. You need to be in (the parents) face and decoy to keep kids apart for now except highly supervised group activities. Yeah, the kids should be punished--separated from each other the other two & away from Christian for a month or more.

Wow. Just so intense for 5 years old. Those parents must be intense too or too lax? At the best school we have and KINDER. Geez.

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