Posts Tagged ‘bully’

Two minutes from the school, I glace at Cole in the rear view mirror. His eyebrows are pinched together. I realize instantly that he is worried about something. I decide to start with the lighthearted approach.
“So Cole, when is the next day that you are going to smile all day? I just want to know so I can put it on my calendar.” The kids do this to me all the time. Out of nowhere, they ask when’s the next time we are going to the zoo, or a water park, or Disney—as if possess a master calendar set up with fun activities– all confirmed dates into the future. They never believe me when I say “I don’t know,” however, I thought Cole would appreciate the attempt to throw it back at him.
He wasn’t amused. I was running out of time so I went with a more direct approach. “Do you want to tell me what is going on?”
“What do you mean.”
“You look upset.”
“I do?”
“Come on Cole, just tell me. I can’t make it better if I don’t know. I got your Poke Man cards back from Truman didn’t I? See I’m full of support….”
“Stop. That’s good Mom, I know.” There is a long pause while I turn into the school parking lot. Then quietly from some far away corner of the car I hear, “I don’t want to go today.”
“What? Why?”
“Because yesterday was the worst day of my entire life, that’s why.”
I want to launch into an explanation about how if he thinks at age eight that he as any clue about the worst day of his life he is sadly mistaken. I want to say that whatever happened yesterday will in no way compare to all the hundreds of days ahead of him when he will face much worse things. What about the day your wife miscarries a baby? The day you find out your father-in-law has a brain tumor? Or when your company lays off three hundred people and you have to sit there wondering if you will be next? My mind fills with examples, but I refrain not because I am a good mom, or because I don’t want to further burden him with things he can’t control, but because we are now in the parking lot and if he doesn’t go in he will be late. I ask, “Okay, what happened yesterday that was so bad.”
“I had to go on the stage for the first time.”
My mind works fast trying to dissect the information and come up with a diagnosis, but I need more information. “The stage?” I ask.
“Yea, now you know and you think I’m the worst kid ever.” Instantly, I realize that the stage is a bad thing – I’m a theatre major, so this was not obvious at first. Also, I realize that he thinks he has confessed something.
“Did you get into trouble? What did you do?” I try not to sound surprised.
“I was S___’s partner in gym, but K___ was upset because if I was S___’s partner then K____ had to go find another partner. I felt bad for K____, but the only person left was M____.”
“Which M____?” I interrupt.
“M___ E___.” My maternal alarm goes off instantly. The M___ E___ kid is… well, he can be kind of a naughty, rule breaking, bully. But he can also has a kind, goofy, sweet side that creates a huge conflict for Cole who can’t just hate him, but can’t just trust him either.
“Are we in gym class?” The location of the stage and the business about getting partners tips me off.
“Yes.” He is frustrated with me, but I’m doing my best.
“Okay, so you were partnered with M___ E___ and what happened next?” At this point there is a story about a ball being given to M___ E___ and a direction to hold the ball being given and, no surprise, that doesn’t happen, but the gym teacher doesn’t remember who he gave the ball to, so they both get sent to sit for the entire gym class on the stage.
He is relieved for only a moment that he has confessed the sin, and then he remembers why he had held so tight to the guilt up until now. “Mom, please don’t make a big deal about it.”
“But it is a big deal. You’re upset. You don’t want to go to school. What kind of teacher gives out a ball and doesn’t remember who he gave it to? Why M___ E___? Was there no one else you could have partnered with?” I breathe and recite in my mind, “I am not going to be that parent. I am not going to be that parent. I am not going to be that parent.”
Still, it’s hard to know that your child has been punished for something that was not his fault.
If he were any other kid in the classroom, he would be upset because he missed gym class, but I know Cole and I understand the problem. A rule has been broken. When you are the smallest guy in the class you live and die by the rules. You trust that the adults are going to create rules, communicate them clearly, and inspired by a judicial gift from God, enforce them flawlessly. Cole believes that if he follows all the rules perfectly he will get through the day safely, peacefully, and with as little negative attention as possible. That is Cole’s #1 rule for life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.
“Okay, I won’t make a big deal about it. Just go to school and we will talk about it later.” I am sending my son into the “belly of the beast, the road will be rough, danger at every turn…” (The kids have been watching the Bolt movie excessively). I have no plan. Instead, I kiss Cole good-bye and realize that Anna Mae got bored with the story minutes ago and has already gone in. Cole walks like a snail to the school door, struggles to pull it open, and slides in before it closes behind him.
My friend who also has four kids and shows up about as late as I do each morning sees me. She comes over to offer Truman a ride to his school. I tell her the whole story to which she says, “Wow, that’s bad. Poor Cole. They are going to crush his spirit. What are you going to do?”
“What can I do?” I ask. “The confession took place two second before school started and he made me promise not to make a big deal about it.”
“E-mail the gym teacher.”
“And say what? Don’t make them be partners? Let K____ be partners with M___ E___? She is so tiny and shy M___ E___ would eat her alive.”
“Her mom is weird.” My friend knows this first hand. Truman walks past us and get into her car assuming what will come next. “I’m going to get them to school on time before I get in trouble again. I have five minutes to get over there.”
I smile hesitantly, get back into my car, and drive away from the school for about two minutes when I realize that my eyebrows are pinched together.

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