Lets take a moment to talk about the dreaded B- word – Bullying!
At some point or the other in life I am sure every single one of us has experienced bullying in some form or another. In my opinion it is more prevalent among girls than boys. We have all been there -being shunned at primary school because the cool girl said no one is allowed to talk to you, or in high school when you get teased about a physical feature, or adulthood when bullying becomes more passive aggressive- accompanied by sarcasm and demeaning comments. Bullying is difficult to deal with regardless of your age. And I guess as an adult you learn to deal with it somehow. But when it comes to bullying that involves your child….oh that’s a whole different story altogether!
Both my boys are very social children, they make friends easily and get along well with almost everybody, except each other of course! So imagine my surprise when I was notified by a teacher that there had been an incident at school. I’m not really sure which end is worse to be on…. To be told your child is the bully or to be told your child is being bullied. It turned out that one of my boys was being bullied by another child at school. When I was told this, I stood there, completely shocked.
I have never really been here before.
This was a first. And I wasn’t expecting it all. So I nodded and listened without actually understanding what I had heard. The teacher reassured me that the matter will be dealt with at a higher level, as the school has a very strict bully policy in place. (I am very aware of it as a substitute teacher, I have had to familiarize myself with it). And so a meeting would be held with the relevant parties and my son was requested to write down his experience of the incident for the ‘report’.
I walked away, holding my child’s hand, feeling fairly numb. Why would any child bully my beautiful boy? Sure he drives me crazy sometimes, okay a lot of the time, but he’s not too bad? In the car home he didn’t mention anything about the incident. The entire day passed, and he said nothing! I started to feel a little upset. At bedtime I just came out with it and asked him. He explained, and quickly said, “But Mum, I didn’t do anything back! I just went straight to my teacher.” I told him that that was the right thing to do. And that 2 wrongs don’t make a right. And that I was proud about the way he handled the situation.
But inside was a different story completely. I was starting to burn up inside. I felt quite angry. Who the heck did that child think he is!? And what gave him the right to hurt my child like that. Momster started to appear. And when the kids went to bed I immediately got on the phone with a close friend and my sisters. I exploded. Perhaps it was an over-reaction. But when it comes to your blood…your baby – I can’t explain it. Something just happens.
Is he too soft? Did he aggravate the bully? Did I not do a good enough job of teaching him to stand up for himself? Is non retaliation really the best option? Should I have rather taught him to do the same back? I have never ever believed in that, but being in the situation makes you question whether you have done the right thing? Is telling him not to retaliate leaving him an easy target? I questioned many aspects of my parenting. His dad reassured me that what I felt is normal and expected, and in anger I should not change what I have believed to be the right thing for so many years. The next morning I reminded him to rather play with his friends that knew what it meant to be a friend. And simply stay away from the child in question completely. But I found it incredibly hard to drive off that day. I worried if he would be okay. Something I haven’t worried about since he started school. I was satisfied with the manner in which the school dealt with the incident, and once I had calmed down, I could think clearly again.
I still adhere to the concept that non retaliation is better. I also know that this won’t be the last incident we will have to deal with… so I will try my very best to keep Momster in check if and when it happens again. For now though, I have to just be grateful for learning curves, and my Mom-squad. Being extremely upset when I relayed the incident to my friend I said to her,” Please help me if you find me at school with this child in a choke-hold.” Her response, “Don’t worry, I will hold him down for you!” Stop freaking out! We were only joking of course- but Yeah…
Mom-squads: helping keep Momsters in check one day at a time!