Did you know that this week was Anti Bully Week? I didn't either. Cody told me last night while I was driving him back from the teen center near our house. Then, today as we were driving to his orthodontic appointment I spotted a bunch of trees with white ribbons on them. I wondered if it was because of Anti Bully Week so I looked it up when I got home. I don't know for sure if it is because I cannot find a definitive site that says so.
Anyway - anti bullying. My kid was bullied. Relentlessly. It mostly happened at the bus stop or on the bus coming home from school, never on the way. Smart kids. Because the school wasn't responding like I thought they should have (expel the fricking kids), I took it upon myself to prove (beyond my kids words) what was happening. I considered putting a tape recorder in his backpack, but I didn't think that would work out. So one morning I pulled my van all the way up to the front of our driveway and sat in the drivers seat with a video recorder and taped what was happening at the bus stop. My kid was getting rocks hurled at him and hit with a stick while his supposed friends looked on. He didn't defend himself because it was a girl doing it (one who was older and bigger than him). We had been sending him to karate classes since kindergarten to help him build up his self esteem and learn self defense, which yes, as sad as it is, he did need in kindergarten because that was when the bullying started. Now, at a different school in a different grade, third to be specific when I video taped the bus stop, it still continued.
He's one of those laid back kids. One of those kids desperate to be liked and to have friends and to be thought of as funny.
I sat there that day repressing everything that was in me. All those knee jerk mommy gut instincts that yelled in my head "GO STOP THIS NOW!" and taped my kid getting rocks hurled at him and being hit with a stick by a 5th grade girl while a group of kids did nothing to help him. And I don't blame those kids who did nothing, they were probably scared too.
You know that it's getting bad when you tell your kid "Seriously, I'll take you out for ice cream if you hit them. Just punch them. You're a big kid, do it once and you will set them in line and no one will mess with you. We will take care of the principle, you will not be in trouble with us. Even if it's a girl doing it, punch her." Yep - I said that and I don't regret it either.
After the bus came and picked the kids up from the stop I called the school and told them that I wanted to see the principle and social worker, that I had proof that my kid was being bullied. When I arrived and was asked what proof I had I handed them my video camera and the principles eyes went wide. "You know that you can get in trouble for taping kids on the bus stop?" Really lady, really?! And do you know what the resulting actions were from this? They called the girl down, talked to her mom, kicked her off of the bus for one week and the principle rode the bus that afternoon to make sure everything was okay.
But the thing is, it doesn't end there. It didn't for mine. It extends into the neighborhood, at the parks, on the streets. It got so bad that we had to get him a cell phone so he could call us, just in case. My gut reaction was never to allow him outside, but how realistic is that?
Let me tell you what homeschooling has allowed me the pleasure of - not having to deal with this shit anymore. Yep, those same kids still are in our neighborhood. And yes, they sometimes say something to my kid. But my kid doesn't ride the bus, he isn't in the halls, he isn't at the wrong lunch table and he isn't desperately trying to be liked. See, he is learning to like who he is and gain confidence in himself. I'm not shielding him, I'm allowing him room to grow.