Tuesday, October 09, 2007

But he's my cub...

I called my mom yesterday. I needed a more experienced mom to talk to about some trouble ZBoy is having at school. Not scholastically - socially. Which is odd, because ZBoy is quite gregarious and friendly. He's always wanting to make friends. But there are a couple of boys who are being sneaky bullies and it's really getting ZBoy down. He doesn't want to eat, he's developed this odd spitting habit and doesn't want to go to school anymore. These are all flashing red signs to me that something is seriously wrong.

I made him take a bath yesterday (he was getting funky the way little boys do) and I offered to wash his back for him. Something about that must have hearkened back to feeling safer because he finally opened up to me about what was going on with him at school. I asked him if there was anything he wanted me to do about it and he shrugged. Hence, the dilemma. What do you do about covert bullying? Teachers have to watch an awful lot of kids and those kinds of kids seem to know when teacher-eyes are turned the other way. So I asked him if I could write an email to his teachers and principal telling them about the problem. Okay, he said.

I can be a lot more rational on paper. When defending my cub in person, my fangs tend to come out and that really wouldn't help the situation - so email it is. Below is the email I sent to all of his teachers and the principal.

I wanted to make you all aware of a possible bullying problem my son, ZBoy, may be having.

He has not been his usual cheerful self lately, but shuts down when I try to ask him about what's going on. This morning, he finally opened up a bit.

He has mentioned a kid named DR in the past. DR apparently likes to push ZBoy around and knock him down. I asked if he's told his teachers about it and he says he has, but DR continues pushing him around.

Today he also talked about someone that the kids call ST, but whose name is really SB. He's not sure of the last name. This boy has hit him in the head with his binder a few times.

I do want you to know that ZBoy is trained in self-defense. He has not used it because he says doesn't want to hurt anyone. He is, in fact, fully capable of not only hurting another child, but defending himself against an adult as well. He has shown great self-restraint so far, but the effort is telling on him.

No one has the right to push another person around. ZBoy knows this. And I have told him, if you are being hurt, you are within your rights to defend yourself. You will probably get in trouble with the school, but you WILL NOT be in trouble with me. No one has to put up with that.

ZBoy is a very sweet person. This is why we signed him up for the self-defense training; we knew that he would be easy pickings for a bully because of his nature. He doesn't believe in fighting and wants everyone to be friends - but that seems to be exactly what is attracting the bullying behavior of the other boys.

Please keep an eye on this situation. We'd had very high hopes when we enrolled him in this school because the curriculum seems so right for ZBoy, but having his person threatened on a regular basis is eroding his enthusiasm for school.

Let me know if there's anything I can do to help this situation. I really don't know what to do at this point.

ZBoy's Mother
I've gotten two responses so far - both encouraging. Both teachers thanked me for bringing this to their attention. Apparently the children are encouraged to settle things between themselves if possible, using words. When things get out of hand anyway, the kids should talk to the teachers. This is fairly idealistic, in my opinion - and while I agree that children should be able to find a way to get along, I also think that it's unreasonable to expect that they will manage to do it at this tender age when a physical reaction is usually the first one to come out. But now that they officially know about the problem, they have promised to keep an eye on things and take action should it be needed.
That's all I want. Someone to look out for my baby when I can't.


swampy said...

Two out of how many?
I was in the classroom for over 25 years, before e-mailing became a form of communication...as a teacher, I would want the parent to come to me personally and let me know about this.
You should have heard from the principal by now...if now, put on your shoes, call and make an appointment with as many teachers and the principal as you can.
The bullying has to stop and they ALL have to be a part of the solution.
Other children are victims, too. They probably just haven't told their parents about the problem.

swampy said...

that should have said, if NOT...put on your shoes...

nikki said...

Kids can be so mean. I hope things get better soon. Poor ZBoy!!

Anonymous said...

Today's kinder, gentler approach to dealing with bullies doesn't work. Remember Mark Feinburg?

Mark was twice my size, dumb as a bag of hammers, and delighted in pushing me around. Mom forbade me to fight back. This resulted in about two years of on-going crap which eventually became the afternoon show for all the kids in the neighborhood.

One day, I had simply had enough. Mark was continuing with his taunting and pushing, and it just happened without warning. Without a word, I turned around and punched Mark in the nose so hard his feet came out from under him. Problem solved. Permanently.

Unfortunately, I think this will result in things getting much worse for ZBoy in the near term because the bullies will figure out who ratted them out. Once teacher turns her back, leaves the room, or there is an unsupervised moment on the playground, ZBoy will pay the price.

On the brighter side, ZBoy has no chance whatsoever of being a small guy. These little punks need to get their licks in while they can, because there will be hell to pay later. The only thing that keeps predators in line is a healthy fear of a broken nose. Before this is over, I am guessing ZBoy will be forced to deliver one or two.

You mustn't condemn him for it. Back him up all the way. To do otherwise will put him in an untenable position that will manifest later.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Zboy will find that a well placed punch to the nose solves every problem in this situation.

When I was in 6th grade, Mom had laid down that ridiculous "never fight back under any circumstances" edict that has currently found a home in the Democratic party.

A kid named Chris figured this out and took great joy in picking on me endlessly, to the point that I was getting hit in the face on a daily basis.

This went on until Chris went to a different High School, at which point his friend, James, picked up the mantle.

Now, I had just been through the "Latin instead of Football" episode, so I had reached a breaking point. One day, I simply turned and gave James a beating unlike any he had ever had.

Problem solved.

A year later, I saw Chris at a football game. I didn't say a word, I simply walked up to him, hit him as hard as I could, and continued to do so until I got bored with it.

Problem solved.

Let Zboy know that serving up a platter of knuckle sandwiches is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with boys unwilling to be reasonable.

It is better that Zboy teaches them this lesson now, when they are small children, than later, when he can actually do damage to his tormentors.


Sayre said...

Well, you see... that's the trouble with this "solution". ZBoy is already quite capable of breaking arms, kneecaps and rendering said little boys permanent sopranos - the kind of thing that could result in lawsuit (oh for the days when people weren't so-suit happy).

As a mother, I don't favor the "punch 'em in the nose" solution - but as a big sister, I can certainly relate to the urge/need/desire to do so.

However, if it should come to that - and I know ZBoy would only resort to that reluctantly - I would indeed back him up all the way.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with displaying the confidence that he can do it if he has to. Taking this attitude has the added benefit of not giving the bullies what they want. They go, in ZBoy's eyes, from growling rotweilers to yapping teacup poodles... a slight nuisance, but not at all intimidating. Maybe teach ZBoy to size up the bully and make a plan in his head on how to one, dispatch him very quickly and decisively, and two, have plausible deniability. It is truly an art to make a thorough ass-kicking appear to be an accident. Think Jackie Chan.
Two bullies may have to be accidentally hurt, or one more than once, but I'd be willing to bet there will not be a third incident.


Anonymous said...

What is truly upsetting ZBoy is not being bopped on the head with a notebook, but feeling powerless to stop it. Planning the ass-whipping gives him a sense of control and will increase his confidence when it comes to dealing with there little punks. That, in turn, will make him less of a target.


Dad said...

Boys are little hooligans at heart and bullies tend to remain bullies until it is made clear that messing with their target is a bad idea.
Two solutions: If there is show 'n tell, let ZBoy wear his ghee to school, with his belt. Take the bag and let him demonstrate a few spin kicks at full belt. Then, let the word get around.
Second solution. If it's pushing and shoving and bopping with notebooks--push and bop back. Being a snivelling victim is bad, being a counter-puncher is good.
Regardless, it is the nature of these little muggers to respond to a good butt kicking faster than logic.
In my youth I was a fairly tough bloke, capable of punching your lights out. Everyone knew, nobody asked for a demo after I sparred with a friend of mine who had a rep as a competent bar-fighter. I damned near put his lights out with a wicked right hook. I never had any problem from that day forward.

kitten said...

Poor ZBoy. I'm so sorry this has happened. I hope the problem gets resolved soon.
My oldest had 2 problems while I had him in school. One time it was older boys and I had to take it to the board because the principle from the school where the other boys went said that since my son was in the elementary school she couldn't do nothing. They broke his classes. He was a 2nd grader and the other boys were in the 4th.
The next problem his life got threaten, I went to the principle and right off the bat he tried to make it a black white issue when he found out what the boy's name was. I told him that I had no idea what color and that wasn't the problem. Then that day he called DJ to the office and intimidated him. I went to the board on that one. To find out the boy did have a hit list and mine was #15, so they did x-spell him. I would talk to ZBoy everyday and make sure the teachers were handling this and if not go to the Superintendent or the board.
(((((((HUGS))))))) to you and ZBoy!

apricoco said...

I am sorry that Zboy is going through this! I know it can't be easy to be the momma bear, you want to just reach out and swipe the attackers. Maybe draw some blood, but it will be worse later. Bullying can be very hard on children, but I think you did the right thing. And I don't advocate the hitting back thing, these days kids have weapons and gangs of friends that can make things worse. Keep an eye out, and I'll keep you two in my thoughts.

Babzy said...

Hi Momma Bear Sayre. There is so much good advice in these comments I can't add anything. I especially like Dad's idea of doing a little demo at show and tell. I don't know about martial arts but is there a move where Zboy can stop a bully in his tracks without hurting him (don't want to get sued). Like when the binder is on it's way down onto Zboy's head he can stop it and put the bully into some kind of head lock?

It's all to do with confidence. My son was never very big but he always picked the biggest kid in school to be friends with, like a body guard. As a teenager and young man he had enough confidence, learned through martial arts, that he can look a bully in the eye and say "I may be small but I'm fucking crazy." That seems to work. He's never been in a fight.

Anyway that's about my boy. Your boy is a different size and temperment. The teachers never seem to catch these things or they don't want to see.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I am glad you wrote the note. Having documentation in writing is important both for you and the ones you are communicating with. I had trouble with a girl bullying my daughter in kindergarten last year and I wrote a few notes to the teacher, who was so overwhelmed with the class (despite 2 aids)that she never saw it happening until I said something. Yet, then, things were still happening she couldnt catch, so I ended up calling the girls' mother and said "the girls used to be friends and there seems to be a problem and I would like to find a way we can work it out"...and after some time AND a four way conversation (us two moms and the two girls), things were resolved. Granted, things get different when the kids get older and retaliate "telling" on each other. You handled it well and I pray for peace and happiness for your guy!

Anonymous said...

Everyone had covered it all fairly.
Dakota had a kid that would drop his books on his head at their lockers,
D's was on the bottom. The resulting solution was that as the books were being dropped he was to stand up suddenly and accidently catch the other fellow unprepared for D's books coming up in his arms. Needless to say the issue seemed to resolve itself with out going further.
I am like you not advocating violence but sometimes as was said earlier you just have to be discreet with your accidents.