Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Son is Being Bullied

And it begins....
I knew this day was coming, not only because kids are so cruel but because my son is different than the average child. Yes, yes everyone says this, I'm not saying he is better or smarter, I just know that he will never fit into the football crowd or the goth group or whatever the little clics in school are now (unless he might be smart enough to be tutoring them). He is a confident, smart kid that I can describe as being in his own world. We lovingly call it "David's World". He's the kid on the soccer field that was running after the ball that's now going the opposite direction, he just hasn't noticed yet. He's good at school and has the potential to excel, he just lacks effort, a trait I'm sure he gets from me. Thing is, he is completely satisfied with this, he doesn't strive to be the star player or student even when encouraged to do it loudly from the sideline. He is definitely more musically inclined than sports, he plays piano and has rythm but lacks coordination. I don't think he will conform to whatever the student body is, and even though he's content and it's something that I might be proud of in him, I believe this also makes him a target.

This week was interesting at school for my son.
I believe he is being bullied. I will re-play the story for you and you can tell me what you think.

TUESDAY: He comes home from school and tells me that this kid in his class called him stupid, ugly and weak. My first reaction of course (after my initial reaction which was to kick the crap out of a third grader..) was to talk to his teacher who just happened to be sick and went home early. He also told me that the kid threatened to "pop him in the jaw." First I asked him if he was stupid, or ugly which he knows he's not, but this kind of thing can be hard to ignore and by experience I know ignoring does not stop the bully. We talked and I suggested that he respond to the kid with the old Pee-Wee standby: "I know you are, but what am I?"

We role played this situation first with him being the bully and then the victim and he seemed to be satisfied and prepared for the next day. I explained that if he just does something that he doesn't expect, it may be enough to throw this kid off and leave him alone.

WEDNESDAY: This time, it started in music class - which my son LOVES. He said they were doing something fun and he reacted in his excited 9 year old way (which also reminds me of Pee-Wee with his hands clenched in front of his face saying "YAY") and this kid said, "Are you GAY? Only gay people do that."
Son: "I know you are but what am I?"
Kid: "You're ugly"
Son: "I know you are but what am I?"
Kid: "You're stupid"
Son: "I know you are but what am I?"
Kid: "You're weak"
Son: "I know you are but what am I?"
(I'm wondering what the teacher was doing to not notice this..)
Kid: (probably pausing by now)
"You're a dirty hobo!"
Son: "I know you are but what am I?"
At this point, he says the kid started talking really fast not making sense and he didn't say anthing else to him. He's convinced it didn't work - I tell him that maybe it did. Sounds like he threw the kid off to me. I guess later in the day, the kid called him weak again and he told him his MOM was weak. This kid doesn't know me very well...

We had another talk, about the word GAY and how it's used differently by different people, what it could mean and what it really means. I asked him if he thought he was ugly or stupid or weak or gay and he said no. I reminded him that whatever anyone else says doesn't matter as long as he doesn't believe it they can think whatever they want!

I'm convinced that the kid is breaking so I ask David what would happen if you tell this guy he's being mean and just to stop? He wasn't sure but was willing to try.

THURSDAY: Today he came home and told me he talked with the kid and told him he was being mean. The kid said he was just messing around and my son reminded him of the things he said (kudos to him!) and told him it wasn't nice at all. Apparently the kid said he wouldn't do it anymore. Problem solved? We'll see...

There was no incident on Friday and when I asked David about it, he said the kid was actually being nice. Spring Break is next week so I'm hoping the break doesn't make this kid forget and go back to his old routine when school is back in session. We've already talked about if it does and I've told him to label that this kid is being a bully. The school has a 'no tolerance' policy and if this continues, I will be sure that it's put into effect on this kid. David got in trouble earlier in the year for waving a paper gun, I think situation this is more pertinent.

Today I found out through the grapevine from the teacher (who was out wednesday too) that this kid doesn't speak English. Now I am feeling empathy for the bully and at the same time, dumbfounded how this kid has even made it to third grade! He knows enough English to call my kid names, maybe he doesn't even know what he's saying. Either way, if it continues, I will make sure that it stops just as soon as it starts.

Do you think I'm being overly protective and that this is just a case of boys being boys? Please let me know, this is why I didn't march into the school to talk to the principal...


Jen said...

sounds like bullying to me. sorry your son has to go through it, the kid should know better.

Anna said...

I think you are doing a great job walking your son through the situation! My daughter has been bullied several times and we walked her through the steps to handle it. It helps you child become more confident that they can solve social problems on their own. Of course, step in if it continues and nothing else is working. It seems like this bully realizes that his tactics are not working. That is usually when they stop.