My husband and I barely had any sleep last night. And no, it's not that there was too much 'fun' going on, but because we were seething with anger. We had just found out that our son had been bullied.
I was in the process of dressing Noah up after his bath when I thought of asking him how his afternoon went. He was picked up by his grandparents to go play and have a snack at McDonald's. I knew that after a while one of his cousins (a year older than him) came by to join him there so I was focused on asking Noah how he spent his time before his cousin arrived.
Noah said, "I just played by myself". I thought that would be the end of it but then I was shocked when he continued to say, "But Mommy, while I was by myself, there was a boy and a girl and then the boy kept pushing and hurting me."
Eyes squinted and focused.
Mother Tigress ready to strike.
As calmly as I could, I asked, "What do you mean? Can you show me how he did it?" So then my son stepped closer to me and gently did punching moves on my chest. He was doing it gently so I had to clarify if that was exactly how the boy did it and he said yes, and that he did not get hurt at all. He then proceeded to say, "But I kept telling him to stop but he wouldn't. I even told him, Hey no punching and hurting, but he still kept punching me. And then Mommy...I was getting angrier and angrier and I was stomping my feet 'cos he wouldn't stop". My son's face was turning red and getting more intense as he was telling me this story so I knew that he looked and felt exactly that way when the incident happened earlier that afternoon. To make matters worse, he continued to say, "And Mommy, after that, the girl was calling me bad things....She called me 'poopoo face' and she kept calling me that."
At this point, I wanted to hunt those two kids down and strike them dead. Yes, yes, we're talking about kids and I'm the adult. But I'm being honest. I wanted to hunt them down and still do, actually.
I asked Noah what he did and he said he just kept telling them to stop but they wouldn't listen. I'm not sure exactly what happened, not sure if my son just walked away eventually or if the kids stopped at some point. Noah did say that the boy's mother intervened at some point to tell her boy to stop punching. My son did not mention anything about the ill-mannered girl's parent though.
I am angry, sad and highly disturbed. My son is just 4. He's shy and is gentle and we've always taught him to be 'nice', polite and to not hurt others. My instinct as a protective mother was to teach him to retaliate, but I know that that is not the proper way, the right way. A part of me wonders though if I'm leaving my child ill-equipped for the world when apparently, not every parent out there is teaching their children the same values and rules of conduct. I asked how big these other kids were and Noah said they were all the same size. This means these kids are probably the same age, if not younger, considering my son is not exceptionally tall for his age.
To be that young and that mean?!! To be a bully so early in life?? I'm appalled. And like I said, highly disturbed. I'm disturbed by how there are parents who are not doing their jobs well. I'm disturbed by the thought of my son getting bullied more in the future. I'm disturbed and anxious because I realized that I am not equipped at this point in time as a parent with the necessary tools that will help my child deal with bullies.
I took it for granted that he was too young; that I'll know what to do or say and how to deal with it when it happens; that others will be there to help me deal with it, like maybe a school teacher or a principal, etc. But what if there were no adults around to intervene? What if it happened at some totally unexpected place, like maybe, McDonald's?!!
Looking at the brighter side of things, I'm thankful it happened now and that my son was not seriously hurt (either physically or emotionally). I'm thankful for those two bullies. Yes I still want to hunt them down like an obsessed and starved beast, but I'm thankful that they brought this to my attention this early. And most of all, I'm thankful that Noah opened up to me. That, I'm extremely grateful for. Now I have a serious task before me. I now know that it is never too early to educate myself about bullying so that I can teach my child and myself how to deal with it. I am clueless and this admission is a blessing for me.
Have you been in a similar situation? How did you deal with it? How educated are you about bullying?