I like to consider myself a kind and considerate Christian. In CJ-topia, where everyone is kind and her children are healthy and happy, it’s easy to feel good about life and hopeful about humanity. But when my kids get hurt, I get angry. And when I’m angry, I’m a little less Christian and a little more Mama-Bear-turned-Incredible-Hulk. I have to work hard to see through the red. This week’s challenge came to be when I realized my son is the victim of bullying.
While I was working, I was often exhausted physically. I quite literally didn’t have the energy to pay more attention to what was going on at home. It was all I could do to make sure that everyone ate the supper their father graciously made and that homework was complete and school lunches packed for the next day before we all went our separate ways for bed time. So, it’s safe to say that my eagle eyes of the past were dim and unfocused while I was employed. I didn’t see my son’s anxiety about riding the bus.
As some of you know, I quite suddenly quit my job a few weeks ago. On one of my recent delicious days off, my son came home from school and sneezed as he walked through the door. I made some sort of absurd comment that would normally have us falling into bales of laughter. Instead, he walked into my room and I could see that he was struggling not to cry. It was difficult coaxing the story out of him and when he finally let it out, I was fuming. I felt in that moment that I absolutely understood vigilantism.
His story infuriated me and made me hurt for him. My son is so gentle and sweet. He has kind eyes and an even kinder heart. For him to suffer at the hands of a bully is almost too much to take. What I found out is that he’d been enduring the bullying for months. Taunts about his body and intelligence eventually gave way to him being pushed one day and slapped on the face in the other. And true to bully form, my son wasn’t subject to the taunts of just one boy, but three. He was too embarrassed to tell us as it was happening. If it hadn’t been for that sneeze, I might not have ever known.
When I relayed all this to my husband, we were both ready to storm the principal’s office with a “guns blazing” attitude. Fortunately, a night of rest allowed for cooler heads to prevail. While hubby spoke with the principal the following morning, I did some online research and what I read was disheartening: most of the literature puts the burden of responsibility of ending the bullying on the victim.
I spoke with my son about what he felt comfortable doing the next time he was under attack. True to his character, the last thing he wants to do is fight. He is also uncomfortable with trying to come up with a clever one-liner. So we decided that for now, he will sit closer to the bus driver, near a quiet boy from the neighborhood that he actually wants to get to know better. We’ve also decided that we will start working out together, specifically Beachbody’s “Combat”, which is a mixed-martial arts program. Will he be a karate pro after the summer? No. But I think he’ll have a boost of confidence and will carry himself better.
As for the principal, I have to give credit where credit is due: she interviewed the bully and called his parents to her office. She made it clear to everyone involved that if the bullying continues, the offender will be on bus suspension. I was relieved to know that she took action and would continue to do so if necessary.
So the moral of the story is manifold: 1) I had to impress on my son that he needed to report any bullying immediately 2) It’s not a good idea as parents to approach the bully or his/her parents 3) involve the principal immediately.
Hopefully, the rest of the school year will be a fun one, devoid of any future bullying antics for my son. Now that I’m home again, I will be much more aware about how the kiddos are doing.
Writer Bio: CJ Heath