Yesterday, I felt it necessary to open up a can of proverbial "whoop ass" on behalf of my middle son. He was being bullied by a couple boys at school; I have zero tolerance for that.
At lunch Thursday a boy kept asking my son for a cookie from his lunch. And my son told him no. Over and over. Afterward, this boy and his sidekick followed my son around, just to be obnoxious. One of them shoved my son into a locker. His arm hit so hard the round imprint of the lock was visible. When he related the story to me I was as livid as the bright red mark on his arm.
He let a teacher know, and she promised to let the "team leader" (the class is broken into three teams, in order to reduce the class size into manageable numbers – the school is ginormous). But I don't trust the system. I sat down with the school principal on Friday, gave him the details I knew, and he promised to address the matter that day.
And he actually did. He had one of his vice principals take care of it, and it sounds as though she did a thorough job. The kid in question claimed to have been pushed, to have hit my son accidentally. Whatever. This boy had no record of violence, but the sidekick did. They told them not to even talk to my son again. As for what happened to the sidekick, I don't know. That wasn't clear. I'll keep an eye on it, now that I know the names of the two boys.
My question, what drives this sort of brutality in children? My tendency is to blame the parents, though I doubt – in most cases – they're telling them to beat up on those more vulnerable. Some of it's the need to seem tough, to be the alpha male and gain respect through muscle. Home life may not be providing the support kids need, so to compensate, they take it out on others.
Kids like my son, serious academically and quiet, get singled out because they won't fight back. Some kids are merciless, bent on making life as miserable as possible for those who seem good targets. And both my boys, by their kind, pacifist behavior, are natural choices.
My son did well refusing to give into this boy. He has a strong sense of right and wrong. Still, every day it puts knots in my stomach sending them someplace I can't see what's happening to them. Paul tells me I'm overprotective. That may be, but I won't sit back and let them be hurt. The verbal stuff I let go, telling my boys to pay no attention to these kids, teaching them – I hope – not every battle's worth the fight.
Luckily, all three of my children communicate with me freely. I also think it helps knowing their parents take things very seriously – even if the principals cringe a little when they hear our name. Then again, we pay their salaries now, don't we. It's our job to make sure they earn it through educating our children in a safe environment. I only wish all parents stood up against bullies. That would go a long way toward minimizing the problem.
I know kids' hormones rage, that they have poor impulse control, but I still point a finger at parents for not making more of an attempt to instill better values in their children. Maybe they'd rather their children bully than be bullied.
I don't mind my reputation as the dreaded mother who rocks the boat. As long as their kids harass mine, I'll fight back. My kids poke a little fun at me for it, but I know they appreciate it. It lets them know I care. Maybe that's something the other kids lack. I feel sorry for that, but they're not my responsibility.
But yes, I'd like to throttle these little sh*ts. Good thing someone has impulse control. Though barely.
And if things degenerate? Maybe I'll join the school board. Talk about a principal's nightmare. I'll keep that as the ace up my sleeve. Make sure my kids are safe or I'll join the board.
Something tells me they'll keep treating me as seriously as I treat these situations. Call it a hunch.