Bullying

A couple of weeks ago when I picked up Doodicus from school, he was clearly upset about something. I have to admit that at first I tried to ignore it because he can be overly emotional about what should be very insignificant things: I combed his hair wrong, his pants are too long, his toast wasn’t cut exactly down the middle; however, not even with me being a hardened bitch could I ignore his attempt to not cry.

It took some gentle prodding for him to finally admit that a couple of his classmates were making fun of his name. At first, I imagined the name that my SIL had once called him when Doodicus was a baby: “Maxi”. Sparring Partner immediately read her the riot act for obvious reasons. And if it isn’t obvious to you, then you were never a school-aged child.

Instead the name they called him was Office Max. I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal, but they must have needled him to no end about it. I tried to convince him that he should have just replied, “That’s the best you could come up with? You guys are idiots,” but snappy comebacks do not come natural to 9 year olds. By the end of the day, it had all but been forgotten.

Some days later I was reading the People magazine which highlighted the deaths of several young people who had committed suicide following some form of bullying. Inside were stories from other students who briefly described the bullying they had been exposed to, including one who said she was bullied “just because.”

I knew after reading those stories that I had to say something to my son’s principal about it, especially since the recent name calling was not the first time Doodicus had been upset at the end of a school day. A few months ago, he joined the Y contact football league for the first time. He was so pumped about it, and while we knew he would never be NFL material, we were thrilled that he was putting in the effort of going to practice, a brutal 90 minutes two times a week and the one hour games on Sundays. But after the first handful of games, he suddenly stopped being excited about practice and asking if he could stay home. He finally told us that one of the kids on his team, who also was a classmate, would tell Doodicus that he should just quit football; that he sucked and he shouldn’t come back.

As you can imagine, I was furious. To make matters even worse? This kid’s dad was one of the coaches. At the next practice I pulled aside this coach to let him know, and he seemed genuinely concerned. He agreed to address the kids as a team about how this was to be a learning experience, a fun experience. Doodicus told me later that the coach had reminded the kids about what was expected of them as a team, but the haranguing from that kid did not cease until football season finally ended. I doubt Doodicus will return to football this coming fall.

If you hadn’t put two and two together yet, one of the kids that had been poking fun at Doodicus’s name was the same kid from football. When I sent the principal an email about these incidents, I did name the kid as the bully. The principal replied that they would be on the watch for future interactions, but I honestly have the feeling he didn’t take it that seriously.

Here’s why I am taking it seriously. VERY seriously. As I have mentioned, Doodicus is very sensitive and emotional. He recently got into trouble for something at home and lost privileges to his new ipod for a week. He was so upset, he told me he doesn’t deserve to be alive. You can’t possibly know what that feels like, but I can tell you my blood ran cold while at the same time the surge of adrenaline nearly blinded me. The only thing I could do was to calm and reassure him that it’s the action we were displeased with but that wouldn’t change how much we loved him for him.

And this is not the first time he has made this kind of statement. What scares me more than anything is that we know it won’t be the last. You think I am worrying for nothing? Almost exactly a year ago a nine year old committed suicide in his school. He had been sent to the nurse’s office for disciplinary reasons, panicked, and hung himself in the bathroom.

He had been taking medication for mood swings and for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and had been having suicidal thoughts for about two years, the police report states.

In 2007, [his] parents, [J] and [D], sought treatment for their son for ADHD.

And yes, those are the parents’ initials (for those who know us).

So I hope you can understand why the bullying cannot – and will not – be taken lightly. I am afraid. Please don’t tell me not to be.

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19 thoughts on “Bullying”

  1. Bullying is so scary right now. Over Christmas break I got an email from a student’s parents telling me she broke down while OPENING PRESENTS! The bullying had taken place on the playground out of my site and they were “so sorry for bothering me.” I was so sad not only that it happened but also that the victim and parents had hesitated in bring it to my attention. Nothing makes the teacher in me more sad that a child who doesn’t want to come to school.

    It sucks that the bully’s parents don’t get it. Luckily in my recent case, the bully’s parents took it very seriously. To often parents don’t get that sure all kids name call at times, but when the name calling is so frequent and targeted at one student it’s not just kids being kids!

  2. Yes, you have every right to be worried and scared.

    You are such a good mom to Doodicus and I think that finding someone that he trusts and respects for him to talk to would be a good idea… not sure about the insurance issue though.

    I’m already worried about the idea of anyone bullying my little Al.ex in the future for being “different” – at least now the little ones who say “what’s wrong with him?” just don’t know any better. When they get older, those kids -do- know better and it’s more about power. It’s scary to me how different school is now compared to when I was young.

    I hope Doodicus knows and really understands how much you love him and that you’ll do anything to help him through this. He deserves to grow up without being bullied.

  3. All of my boys were on the receiving end of bullying at one point or another. Interestingly, they all responded differently. S1 was VERY much like Dood. He internalized and long story short…there were several times I cried after he went to bed at night because my heart broke AND I was worried about his safety (from himself). He also expressed being not “good enough” or “cool” or the dreaded “popular”. I wanted to personally shake the shit out of the little asses that were the name callers/taunters. Knowing who their parents are…..proves that genetics plays a huge role in assholeism.

    The other two boys..S2 would give them the finger or whatever worked at that age and move on. No sweat. S3 just rotates groups. When someone in the group starts the bullying, S3 moves quietly to another group, leaves the scene claiming his mean mom needs him home etc…..and spends many “party nites” at home. His choice. He then usually makes some sort of contact with the victim later letting them know that the bully is a jerk and nobody pays attention to him/her. (He would be a wonderfully empathetic teacher someday).

    I have talked to them at great lengths about bullying and even though all of them have tremendous, unconditional love and support at home, peers can whittle that down from an oak tree to a toothpick. Self confidence isn’t easy and needs to be built over and over. People can tell you how wonderful you are, but unless you believe it yourself, they are just hollow words. They need to be proud of themselves.

    So much easier said, than done. I am old, and I STILL feel 12 when I see certain people that taunted me when I WAS 12. One tried to friend me on Fbook and through another acquaintance I heard she hasn’t change at all….she is most likely teaching her kids how to bully by example.

    One thing..extreme..but was told to me by S1 was that he thought about hurting himself, but knowing that it would “mess you up” (meaning me) he couldn’t do that to me. I was grateful and sick to my stomach at the same time.

    Just keep talking, hugging, supporting, loving, laughing and letting him know that no matter how shitty the smack talk gets, he is safe at home.

  4. Hey Yo-yo
    As you know, we are seeing a psychiatrist for my son and it is one of the best decisions we have ever made. Our son is also very sensitive (covering the entire gambit – emotionally and physically).
    I kept saying that our son needed to find strength in himself and just how to be in the world. It sounds simple but you know how hard that is.
    Yes you have to address bullying but I think you also need to give your son the tools to cope with life – unfortunately there are always going to be bullies and no I’m not excusing it (not in the least).
    It’s so hard to be strong and secure in who you are – some of us never get there.
    If he is on the meds, do you already see a psychiatrist?
    Crap I also just realized that our insurance pays for it up here – I’m not sure what your situation would be.
    Anyway, I’ll just shut-up now.
    DinoD

  5. Your son has enough challenges going on – he doesn’t need some little jerk making life more difficult. Keep on it. Therapy for Doodicus might be useful, to alleviate the pressure he’s feeling. Good luck – this is tough.

  6. The teachers need to get on top of this asap before it escalates. You are doing the right thing. I think everyone gets a bit of name calling/ teasing etc but this crosses that line.

  7. BTDT. My oldest was bullied in elementary school. He was chased, he fell and broke his two front teeth. The kids parents were forced (by me) to pay his dental bills.
    I signed him up for karate the next day. He never got into any further altercations, but at least I felt better that if he *had* to, he could stand his ground.

    There is a girl in Maggie’s class who thinks she’s all that. She told Mag that her name sounded more like “Maggot” than Maggie. Maggie was in tears. Me, being the grown-up-responsible-type, had Mag go in the next day and if she said it again (Which, she did), Maggie was to respond, “Yeah? Is that so Fatty??”.
    We haven’t had any more name-calling from Maddie since. Yep. I TOLD my kid to name-call back. Don’t judge. They giggle about it now.

  8. Talk therapy? Family therapy? A scheduled visit to the principal to explain all of the things you talk about here? Lots of talking with your son about these feelings and about other kids that have shared them and how he is not alone? A new activity for him he can be confident in and have friends from?

    My husband was bullied a lot as a child and still bears the effects. Good luck.

  9. geezus, D. My blood ran cold reading this. No, you should not take it lightly. Keep fighting for Dood as you always have. Keep loving Dood, and keep listening. You have all the tools you need. And you have us.

    From the Mom of my little dude, who often is called “Donkey and Dork” by one little pissant kid in my school. You know our last name, and as you can imagine he gets it all the time. There’s always a rotten apple in the bunch.

    Hugs.

  10. I would never tell you not to be. My kids are only 3 and 2 but I am scared to death of bullying. I remember how cruel kids can be to eachother and I fear for watch the future holds for my very sensitive, sweet children. I commend you for being proactive and if any other incident happens you better believe I would be in that principals office asking what the crap they’re doing about this. That child who is doing the bullying may be doing it “just because” but he also may have severe emotional or personal things going on that no one knows about and some professional help could make a huge difference. I hate that you’re dealing with this kind of situation but I know you’re the kind of mom who isn’t going to take this lying down.

  11. Ditto what pp’s have said. Kudos to you for staying on top of this. If the principal does not take any real action then go to the school board. For all of the recent publicity there are some who just won’t take appropriate action.

  12. How can the principal not take this seriously after all the bullying stories we have about recently and after the 9 yr old’s suicide last year. You are definitely doing the right thing to keep on top of this and I wonder if you’ve thought about talking to this bully’s parents as well since the bullying this kid is doing has now gone on for at least several months?

    1. I talked to the kid’s dad because he was the coach of the football team as well. I think he was more upset that his kid was called out then by the fact his kid was bullying my son. My husband knows the dad and his brothers and they think they are all cocks of the walk. What they don’t realize is they are just cocks.

  13. Oh yikes… *HUGS* You are doing the right thing. Standing up for Doodicious. Bottom line – bullying is unacceptable behavior whether it happens to your kid or someone elses. Apparently the educator has not seen all the headlines the last few years regarding bullying. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m proud of you for handling things the way you are though.

  14. The bullying and those statements, individually – even without the boy from last year, are really scary.

    Bullying shouldn’t be taken lightly. I do hope you continue to contact the principal and teachers until something is done. And that Dood knows you are in his corner fighting.

    Is Dood seeing anyone to talk to? Is that a possibility?

    Thinking of you guys.

  15. You have to do stand up for your kids and with Doodicus’ emotional well-being…there is no “too careful.” He is a sensitive soul and you guard that and protect that as much as you can. It is terrifying to hear your child say those words. You do whatever it takes to keep him safe and whole. Huge hugs, my friend, huge hugs…

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