Beating The Bully
Apparently for months now, there has been a little boy terrorizing the kindergarten yard. Let’s call him, Jack. Jack is not in the same class as Hippo, but he does his dirty bidding at snack & lunch recess. He has punched and kicked most of the kids in kindergarten, and teases the rest. One of Jack’s first targets was Hippo’s best friend, Princess Luna (of course that’s not her name) by teasing her at the beginning of the year. Hippo never told me any of this. Hippo; who over shares with me; didn’t say anything because, Jack had become friends with Hippo’s other good friend from preschool, Charlie. Charlie is one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. She and Hippo have been friends since they were about 3 and Hippo was ecstatic when he found out that Charlie was coming to his school for Kindergarten. But Charlie is going through some family issues and this super sweet kid, latched on to the kid who has anger issues. Which, is often the case when a child has had a death in the family or is going through divorce. Some sort of life altering event.
Well, once Jack was confronted by Princess Luna’s mother, he stopped picking on her. He then turned his sights on Hippo. And Charlie joined in by laughing instead of stopping the teasing and bullying. This all came to a head on Saturday during little league when we saw Charlie & her dad on the field. Charlie and Hippo started acting so strangely around one another. They barely spoke and didn’t hug. Usually they attack each other with hugs and go off chit chatting. In fact, two seasons ago, they were playing against one another and stood at the bases chatting and laughing, while we yelled for Charlie to run to the next base! They genuinely cared about each other…so what was going on? Over the past few days, the truth has started to trickle in. Charlie’s parents and I decided to pounce on the situation and fix it.
While telling the situation to a family member yesterday, I was told that I was a horrible mother for not recognizing the anguish my child was in. That it was my fault he was getting bullied. That he was allowing himself to get bullied to protect me. At first, I thought, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Then it got to me. I started to think, what kind of mother am I? Why did I not see this? Have I created a life for my son where he thinks I can’t handle things because of my illness? I sat down and cried. I had failed my child. I had failed as a mother.
I picked Hippo up from school. In front of the teacher, I asked him if anything happened. He said, no. When we got in the car, he said, “Mom. I lied. Jack tried to hit me in the bathroom at lunch. But I blocked it. Then he tried to threaten me again, but I just stared him down!” I pulled the car over. “Hippo, why didn’t you say something in front of Mrs. Teacher?” He looked at me and said, “Because, I blocked it. He attacked and I defended myself and it’s done.” I couldn’t let it go. The earlier conversation with the family member combined with Hippo’s statement was absolutely freaking me out. So, before bed, we were on the couch talking and I decided to make sure Hippo understood that he isn’t alone in this.
Listen, Hippo, if Jack hits you or tries to hit you, you have to tell me & the teacher!
Okay. But I don’t want you going crazy or calling dad because he goes crazy too.
We go crazy because we love you. you don’t need to protect us.
I’m not protecting you. I’m protecting, Charlie. I don’t know why, but Jack is her friend. It’s crazy, I know. But she hasn’t really done anything. And Jack just does this dirty work to look cool. Or he’s sad…I don’t know.
Well, you can’t keep getting hit to save someone else. Especially, if that someone is taking part in the hitting or teasing.
Ugh, mom. It’s complicated.
Okay, but listen. Jack packs a punch, even though he’s little. But I pack a bigger punch. If I knock him out, then everyone’s gonna go crazy. But I’ll be ready when comes at me. I always am.
*Then in his John Legend voice he starts singing the theme song to, Selma. Glory*
Hold on, you’re not fighting for civil rights, Martin Luther King!
Oh yes, I am! When the war is won! It will be ours, it will be ours! OOOOOH, Glory!
*We both start laughing*
If it gets bad I’m gonna walk into the principal’s office like…
*puts his fist in the air*
One day when the Glory comes, it will be ours! It will beeeee ours!!!
I guess you could say, I haven’t failed at all. My son recognizes that the teasing isn’t personal. He’s setting an example by being the bigger person. And he’s CHOOSING to be nonviolent. Instead of allowing his parent’s to go crazy, he has thought through all the repercussions for everyone. He literally thought of all the kids and their involvement and why. He wasn’t protecting mommy. He was recognized that it wasn’t about him, it was about his friend, Charlie. It was about Jack. Now, I did explain that Jack needs to be disciplined and taught he can’t communicate by fighting. But Hippo was literally like, “If I hit him harder, he’s only gonna wanna keep fighting. He likes to fight. I don’t want to give that kid anything that he wants. He doesn’t deserve it!” His understanding of human behavior & correlating the lessons of history at 6 years old is mind blowing. I didn’t fail. I nailed it! Always choose strength over aggression. Logic & reason over passion & defense. I actually think my 6 year old taught ME something about being a human last night. He knows I always have his back. But he recognizes that sometimes you have to fight your own battles. And there are different ways of fighting them.
In case you aren’t familiar with Hippo’s favorite song, here you go!