My handsome little man
Technically, I'm not scheduled to post until Tuesday (We are tryingg to be more reliable bloggers) but this post has been weighing so heavy on me that I couldn't not post it a second longer.
My mom used to tell me that when I was little, my dad would ask me "are you a lover or a fighter?" and I would answer "I'm a wover!" And it's true. I'm no fighter. I avoid confrontation at all cost, and I have only ever been in one physical confrontation in my entire life and it was a short hair pulling cat fight with a neighbor girl. I have no idea now why it happened, and I certainly didn't start it, but she grabbed onto my hair and started yanking, so I grabbed hers.
My husband on the other hand is a fighter. Not that he goes looking for a fight, but he isn't afraid of confrontation and doesn't back down when challenged. And as a kid, he was certainly more aggressive than I was.
As parents, we've disagreed at times on what road our children should take. As the mom and primary caregiver though, I've had more time with the kids and have really tried to stress to them the importance or being kind and loving and never hurting anyone. Usually if one of these talks is taking place while Josh is home, he will chime in with something like "but don't ever let anyone push you around!"
On Thursday James came home from school and after asking how school was and talking about what he and his friend Preston had done that afternoon he casually told me about how he had cried twice at school that day. Once was for getting in trouble for going to the bathroom too many times, but after he explained to the teacher that he was having a hard time going he said she wasn't mad anymore. And the second time was because Frank punched him in the face, kicked him, pushed him up against the wall, and then tried to push his head in the toilet.
I was stunned. I asked him to tell me again what happened just to make sure I was hearing him right. He also mentioned that his friend William was with him and Frank had kicked him in the privates, and then he showed me the red mark on his back where it had been scraped when pushed against the wall.
My 8 year old son got beat up in the bathroom at school. How does that happen? I couldn't believe I was hearing this from him and that the teacher hadn't notified me immediately. I questioned him further about whether or not he had told anyone about it and he informed me that he had in fact told his teacher and that she had made Frank apologize. And then he said "he didn't even have to loose his star mom."
Now I was really in shock. Not only did my son get beat up, but the kid that did it didn't even get in trouble. I decided that I would send his teacher an email right away. A few minutes later my husband called though and his response was "we're going to the school tomorrow and talking to the principle! His fight response had been triggered in a big way.
That night as we were tucking James in bed and talking to him about what had happened I asked him "did you push him back?" and he perked right up and said in a proud voice "No, I didn't!" I had been teaching him his whole life that it wasn't OK to fight and he had no idea that it was OK to fight back if someone was hurting him. He thought I would be mad at him if he did.
The next day my husband left work early and marched himself down to the school (I was with Laila at a doctor's appointment) The principle wasn't there so he sat down with the teacher and James and made it very clear that what happened was not acceptable and the way it was handled was ridiculous. His teacher apologized profusely and admitted that this boy has had several problems already, and that further action would be taken. I do need to note that I love his teacher! She has been so good for him this year and I still think very highly of her. The meeting ended on a very friendly note and she promised that they would not let Frank go to the bathroom with other groups of kids anymore and that a report would be written up and sent to his parents.
I was still replaying all the events of the last two days in my head later that day and how if I hadn't been so sure of my way that maybe my son would have been able to defend himself.
And then it hit me. What if this was not a case of a bully in the bathroom at school? What if someone was trying to do something much worse to him and he didn't know it was OK to hit and kick and bite and do whatever it takes to get away?
I felt sick. How could I have failed my children so miserably? And then I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude that nothing worse had happened, and that now he knows. They all know.