Sunday, February 22, 2009

Picking the right fight...

Lately we've had a hard time with our little guy. Not him, but those around him. Seems D has taken on the same spot I inhabited when I was his age. From the time I was 8 until college, I was the girl who got picked on. I was always too nice, too sensitive, too kind to the underdogs, clothes weren't from the right stores (although were far better than anyone else wore because my mom was the best seamstress EVER and our clothes were always prettier). I was a little cutie but pudgy. My sister was darling and tiny. She got picked on too... because she was tiny. I'd have traded places with her any day. Imagine my surprise when she admitted to me as an adult, she always wanted to be me.

But I digress. This is not about me, but Little D. Since early December our little guy has been throwing up fairly regularly in school. Not like emptying the contents of his stomach sick, but sick like vurping (you know - vomit burps where you just get sick into your mouth in little amounts). It got so bad two weeks ago that the nurse, school guidance counselor and I have all conferenced. I have let them all in on Dalton's secret. Dalton is being bullied in school.

I find this so strange because he gets invited to all the birthday parties, the kids all love playing with him, he's well received by everyone and his clothes are brand name (no one has to know that Consignment shops are my favorite place to shop for said popular items). His shoes are Nike and Reebok and he's got one of those classic cute boy looks. He's very popular in school with boys and girls and all of his teachers have always adored him. So, how is it, my precious son is being bullied. Bullied so much so that he is getting sick from the nerves in his stomach making him feel so bad that he misses class time, has to spend more time at home and causes his teacher to have to stop instruction to allow him a pass to the nurse and the bathroom. How is it possible that doing all the right things and being the great kid he is is still putting him in the path of the bullies?

We got several answers this past week. The teacher was so upset that this is going on. He has had several talks with the boys involved and taken disciplinary actions (setting up expectations and consequences with each of them). The guidance counselor has opened her door to him any time. The nurse is on board and my local pediatrician has set up an appointment for him. But how is it that this is starting in 2nd grade????????

As an example of one typical event, one of his closest friends, with whom he shares sleep overs and neighborhood playtime is also in his class at school. This same close friend is bullying him unmercifully at school, but never at home. (Instead his little brother - and I do mean little - has decided it's his opportunity to beat on D but that's another story entirely.) The other day he said to Dalton, "You can't play tag with us unless you're ALWAYS "it"." To which Dalton replied, "Well, fine, but that's not very nice."

This child whipped around and says to him, "Why is it always about being nice with you. Nice doesn't get you anywhere in our world Dalton!"

Oh... MY... GOSH!!!! Are you kidding me? What 8 year old says that??? Where do they hear that stuff?? And no, he doesn't have older siblings, and his mom and I are very very close friends (also socializing together). He does attend a before and after school program. So we, the team of folks consisting of the teacher, counselor, moms, nurse and kids, begin discussing some of the events that occur at school. Like the one that prompted one child to say to my D, "You're just neutered. You're a loser and NO ONE wants to hang around you."

Apparently these kids are also being bullied. They do NOT have older siblings but are rather being bullied in their own before school and after school programs. So, in their efforts to eradicate being the bullied, they have each become the Bully. Sick sick world we're in that this is starting so soon.

To say to Dalton, "Your girlfriend [of one entire year now btw] is gay and kisses other girls so why would she even care about you!?" makes me furious. It not only belittles his feelings for someone else but raises questions that children this age shouldn't even be privy to information regarding. It infuriates me. And what parent doesn't see patterns of behavior at home that illuminate these kinds of behaviors. Are all these children angelic at home? I think not! (And in the case of two of the bullies, I"m certain they are not angelic having been around them in social situations WITH their parents.)

It's incredulous to me that my son has become physically sick as a result of these behaviors. We've been talking about them at home, reading books to help with these situations, discussing ways to help himself through them, keeping avenues of communication open at home, but I feel so badly that I wasn't able to help his little psyche more than I could. I suppose he does know no matter what Mom is on his side and will go to bat for him when it's necessary. (Until I went to the school, he had begged me not to for fear the bullying would only get worse, which of course, initially it did until the teacher was actually witness to some of the shenanigans that happened when the kids thought his back was turned.)

I remember vividly, one incident that happened to me in 5th grade. I was on the playground hoping to get picked for the kick ball team. I couldn't run very fast, but I could seriously kick a ball from here to Kingdom Come. Unfortunately, the numbers were odd and I didn't get to play. So I sat on the sidelines watching, happy to be where I was, not bothering anyone. When all of a sudden, three girls, all my "friends" surrounded me in a circle and began chanting "fatty fatty two by four" rhymes and kicking me as they passed my backside. I let it continue for a bit hoping if I ignored them they'd stop. Which of course they didn't and it started to hurt. I asked them nicely to quit. They of course they wouldn't. I yelled that it hurt and they laughed at me. When it started to hurt enough to cry, (which honestly wasn't as long as it sounds because I cried easily) they taunted me even more. They were merciless in their pursuits to emotionally drain me, laughing and pointing and taunting me over and over in their hurtful sing-song rhymes.

When I finally was able to get up and walk away to the merry-go-round, the teacher finally saw me and came closer to see why I wasn't playing. When she got close enough to see me crying, she got mad. When she finally got me to tell the story, which I did NOT want to tell because I KNEW it would make matters worse, she was livid. She did the unthinkable...

All the girls were brought to the merry go round, which of course brought the game to a close and everyone gathered around. The teacher proceeded to applaud my qualities in front of everyone. She heralded my generosities, my spirit, my ability to help others feel good about themselves, my sense of pride in my work, my desire to do well and help others do well too. On and on she went and then dropped the bomb. "Anyone who picks on Lissa again will find themselves being sent directly to the principle and will be suspended for the day."

It was official. My social ruination was complete.

Wanna guess what Dalton's teacher's designated consequence of bullying is?

Yeah... Dalton was home from school Friday, throwing up fron 7:30 until after 1:00. I tried to get him to go to school, but they won't keep him if he throws up more than twice. Wanna guess why he was throwing up?

One of the boys picked on him on the playground Thursday and he's afraid he'll get kicked out of school.... Yep, it's the classroom socialite, the boy who, for some reason, has the power to decide who's cool and who's not, the one everyone wants to sit beside at lunch because he's funny, the one who looks like he stepped out of GQ for little boys, the one who's just so darn cute and little that all the parents and teachers think he's darling until he opens his mouth and proves what a little brat he can be. He's got power this one. And he uses it... FULLY... And mesmerizes everyone else with it like some master mind manipulator.

Yeah - wonder if Dalton will ever outgrown being sensitive to this or whether he's just beat the hell out of one of them one of these days, completing his transformation into someone entirely different. Wanna know what the other parents want him to do? Yep - you got it... they want Dalton to beat their kids down and show some moxie... Wanna know what that will get Dalton?

Yup - you guessed it - suspended.

Personally, I love that he's sensitive (to an extent) and empathetic. I love that he's wise and kind. I love that he's intelligent, charming, cute as a button, happy (generally) and a great student. I love that he got friends all over the country that ask to play with him when they visit Williamsburg. I love that where ever he goes, he leaves people smiling. I love that he loves God, people, animals, and is proud. I love that I feel like I've got one of the greatest kids ever and I love that other people say so. I love that even the parents of the kids involved with this fiasco, love my kid. Most of all I love that he is trusting God to help fix this and truly believe that the harder he prays about it, the closer it is to being fixed.

So, until this transformation is complete, either the other children or my own child, in what ever manner, I pray I too can be patient and wait on His wisdom to tell us what the next steps are. I pray that my son can grow and not continue to be sick. I pray that what ever physical damage may have already occurred from being sick 3-4 days a week to him is reversed and healed. Mostly I pray that emotionally, my son is healthy, whole and able to rise above all this and continue to be the wise, wonderful, kind, empathetic, sympathetic, intelligent, charming, athletic, easy going loving kid he's always been.


P.S. (And, if you're the praying sort, please pray pray I don't lose my sanity over it too!)


Jodi said...

Wow! Hugs to you and Dalton! Poor Kid. Hope that this ends soon!

Ronnie McCray said...

Hey, Lissa, hang in there! The Lord is with you and Dalton! He has plans for your boy and he's going to blossom in life!

We had our own issue with bullying at school. And the ironic thing about it is the fact that it was one of our son's "friends", one that we've had to our house. Just doesn't make sense, huh? Of course, whatever Satan has a hand in doesn't make sense, does it?

Dalton is in my prayers.