Update on the bullying and the hopeful cessation of it.
My apologies. I haven’t written a blog post in months because work has sucked all my brainpower away. But the software is due to be released relatively soon, which means I have more energy to devote to non-work things. Like blogging about things that have nothing to do with pie.
My youngest, Dr. Lecter, has always marched to her own drum. She comes by lateral thinking instinctively. She’s probably got ADHD (inherited from me) and last week we discovered that she’s also got trichtotillomania (inherited from her father). Her different-drummedness has never bothered her until this year when she found that she didn’t like only having one friend, and that friend isn’t in her class this year. Even that was tolerable because they could still play together at recess or after school. But as it turns out, that wasn’t true.
Her teacher sent me a note last Friday expressing her concern about Dr. Lecter. She’d been pulling at her hair increasingly more, and was acting out at lunch. The school guidance counselor had a talk with her and discovered a bald patch on the back of her head. We found that there were several triggers: anxiety over schoolwork, anxiety/stress over not being able to participate in PE because she’d worn the wrong shoes, sadness over no friends in her class, and most significantly, anxiety over 4 little fucking asshole boys picking on her. The guidance counselor pulled each child into her office individually and told the boys they had to leave her alone, and told her to stay away from them. They apparently ignored the guidance counselor because that same day at lunch, they yelled at Dr. Lecter, telling her she was “so annoying.”
I’ll be honest: my child doesn’t always play nice. She’s not great at taking turns, and she’s not spectacular at sharing, and she used to throw crying fits when she didn’t want to do schoolwork, especially writing assignments, so she’s probably got a reputation for being difficult. But she’s not the Stinky Kid, nor is she the Paste-Eating Kid. She’s just the kid with a really strong stubborn streak and maybe less than stellar manners. But she’s also funny, and affectionate, and clever, and sweet, and diabolical, and a really fun person to know. And no matter what her faults, she doesn’t deserve to be treated like shit by other kids.
Today she came home from school, and I asked how her day was. Sullen, she jerked a thumb at her sister and said, “I’ll let her tell you.” Apparently a group of boys including her bullies had tied her legs up with jump rope and dragged her around the playground. It was bad enough that a group of girls who didn’t know Dr. Lecter intervened, with several running to tell the Recess Aides (who aren’t teachers, but volunteers or something), and several others physically holding her so that the boys couldn’t drag her around anymore. The boys let go of the rope, and these kind girls helped untie her, and kept the boys at bay from coming at her again. The Recess Aide threatened “really big trouble”, but the boys laughed it off and ran away. Only one boy was caught and made to apologize, but it seems nothing came of it because despite my already-open lines of communication with Dr. Lecter’s teacher and guidance counselor, I didn’t hear a peep about this from them.
I’ve sent a controlled message to them, asking what we can do about this in as non-confrontational a manner as I can manage, but really. If adults did this sort of thing to each other, they would be charged with assault. Let’s be real: I am seething. I want to turn the full force of my maternal rage on these boys and their parents. Mostly, I want answers. How are parents able to raise children so incapable of understanding that putting their dirty fucking paws on another child is wrong? Do the parents of bullies ever accept responsibility for what their child has done, or is it always, “Oh, kids will be kids”? How the fuck was this allowed to happen with adults supervising? Are these motherfuckers going to be punished, and receive actual consequences for acting like tiny crapbag Neanderthals?
The biggest question of all, the reason I can’t sleep right now, is will my baby be ok? Will these shitsticks leave her alone? Will my efforts to teach her Friend-Making Skills (sharing, paying attention when someone’s talking, letting other kids have turns, not grabbing) pay off? Will she get over the anxiety of having to start a task and not feel the compulsion to pull her own hair out? Will other kids figure out how worthwhile a little person she is? I had a minor meltdown at bedtime tonight thinking about all these things, and I broke down into tears in front of her. She patted my arm and snuggled up against me, and said, “Oh Mommy. I’ll stay here with you until you feel better.” So yeah, part of me knows my mighty little girl will be just fine.
But the rest of me is heartbroken for her.