Monday, April 25, 2016

Bullies are a pain in the neck

"...When they scream and when they yell
And tear you down
They make your life a living hell
When they come 'round
There's nothing you can say
That doesn't contradict them,
'Cause all they want's a victim
On which to vent their rage
It's just not fair, you don't deserve it."
- Aurelio Voltaire, Innocent


I apologize for my lack of posting. Last week was a very difficult week for me. I had severe neck pain and I ended up going to the clinic for some pain meds. I will also be starting physiotherapy soon.  I still don't feel 100% pain free but at least I can function!


This is a what is going on in my life sort of post and it is really about my son Philip being bullied at school. Over the past couple of months, Philip went from being an excellent student to not wanting to participate in class, not wanting to do his work, complaining about feeling sick so he could get out of class and being just plain moody. I knew he was being bullied. These are the classic signs.

Philip has been bullied by this little boy in his class since the beginning of school. The thing is, Philip has a lot of friends but for some reason, Philip is being targeted. There was a point, every morning, he did not want to go to school. When the bully resorted to physical violence, Philip defended himself. In fact, the bully got his ass kicked twice! I know I probably shouldn't be proud of this but I am! I never heard from the school about these incidents either and Philip did tell me that he didn't get in trouble because the bully threw the first punch! It appeared that everything has settled down for about a week or two then all of a sudden, Philip comes home with a bump on his head and a huge cut. Turns out, he got into some sort of argument with the bully. The kid pushed Philip into a shelf. He fell and items that were on the shelf came crashing down around him. I asked Philip what happened after wards. He said the bully got sent to the office and the teacher left a note for his parents. In fact, Philip said that the kid always gets in trouble for something.

Things settled down for a few months until one day, I bought Philip this little Incredible Hulk ornament to hang off his school bag. He thought that was the next best thing since sliced bread. In fact, he wanted one because his best friend has an Iron Man hanging off his school bag! They are now part of the Avengers Team! A few days later, Philip comes home and the Hulk is gone. He told me that the bully cut the Hulk off of his bag. I think this was his breaking point.

Philip always had a temper. He can go from a 1 to 10 in a matter of seconds. He has tantrums, he screams, and he can get violent. He reminds me of Stitch from the Disney movie "Lilo and Stitch" In fact, I even bought him a Stitch Pop Figurine for Christmas.  I know this bullying isn't the sole reason for Philip's aggressive behavior but it is definitely part of the equation. I got the school psychologist involved because his teacher and I suspected he might have a spectrum disorder. The psychologist thinks he just has to learn to control his anger. In fact, he is one of the youngest in the school since his birthday is in September. Most kids are turning 6 years old in kindergarten and he turned 5 at the beginning of the school year. This could also be part of the reason. He is still very young and has trouble using his words when he is angry. I asked for help with this because I want to work on his anger issues now while he is still young. Philip is a mini-me. We bottle things up until we explode. My teenaged years were filled with angst, depression and two botched suicide attempts. I do not want Philip to be like me when he gets older. I am giving him tools the best way I can in order to help him control his emotions better.

This is stitch!
This is also where I got the image!

Not only did I miss two days of work because I was in incredible pain from my back, I had to take Philip to get new glasses. In his rage last Thursday, he broke his new pair. What happened, he brought a ball to school. He leaves it out in the hallway in his cubby with his coat. The bully gets in trouble, the teacher sends him to time out in the hallway. Philip flips out because he is afraid the bully is going to either break or steal his ball. I don't blame Philip considering the bully broke his Incredible Hulk ornament in the past. Philip actually stood in the doorway and tried his best to not let the bully and teacher out of the classroom. Philip then ran into the washroom (they have one of them in the class) and locked himself in, screaming uncontrollably. He refused to let himself out despite both his teacher and vice-principal telling him to unlock the door. I have to admit, that kid has guts because he actually told the Vice Principal that he wasn't coming out! The only reason why he unlocked the door was because they told him they were going to call me to come bring him home.

I had two meetings with the Vice-Principal. One was a brief one on Thursday. I met her again on Friday morning. Again, I was in pain, I looked like a mess but I went anyways in my jogging pants and my husband's oversized t-shirt. I also reeked of Rub A5 3-5 ointment I put on my back. I didn't care and the school knew I hurt my back. This time, I met with the Vice-Principal, the teacher's aide and the school psychologist.

I explained that I agree, Philip has a temper. I get it. We are working on it. I went into details on how I handle him at home. I also did explain that this bully is not helping the situation. He is not entirely to blame for Philip's angry outbursts but the bully is definitely part of the equation. I explained everything I just wrote here. I was then asked why I didn't call the school to complain. I said "there are two reasons. First, I don't want to be THAT parent who calls to complain about every little thing. I am Philip's mom and it is my job to he a parent, not the school's.  I took this as a learning opportunity and we talked about this at home together. We read books on bullying and had discussions. In fact, I have a zero tolerance to bullying. When Philip was bullying his bully because he resulted to that tactic as means for survival, I made him write a letter of apology to the kid. I wanted to wait until I exhausted all of my resources before coming to you.  I should have perhaps spoke up beforehand because now this has obviously gotten out of control. The second reason: What could you do about it? I know the bully was sent to the Vice Principal's office and was sent home with letters to his parents. You did that with my kid. I know you did the same with the bully. It's none of my business whether or not the bully's parents have addressed this or not with their kid. I am Philip's mom. It is my job to be a parent and this is why I am here now. To take care of this because I have exhausted all my resources. Now it is up to you to tell me what you are going to do to help Philip and I with regards to this situation"

While Philip may have a temper, just like Stitch, he also has a kind, soft and cute side.
This is where I got the image

I don't know about you, dear readers but back in my day, the bully always seemed to get off the hook and the victim was the one who got in trouble. I am pleased to write that this appears to no longer  be the case. I like to think it was my super Mom abilities during the meeting but it is most probably because the bully is known for being a trouble maker.  Philip now has a safe place to go to  in his school provided he does his work he is supposed to be doing in class. You see, since the whole school bag ornament incident, Philip refused to do any work while he was in the classroom. The teacher's aide began to help him and he took a liking to her. As a reward, if Philip does his work in class and does not have a meltdown, he can go to the teacher's aide's office to listen to classic music, draw or play with some of the toys there. This removes him from his bully and he has a reward for good behavior. It is comforting to know that he has so much support and the teacher's aide appeared ready and willing to be in his corner, backing him up. She attested that normally Philip is really well behaved but does have a huge temper when provoked but he is no way naturally aggressive towards people.

 On Friday afternoon, the school called me but I was asleep. They called Jay who later told me that Philip claimed he was not feeling well. He was sent down to the office. The Vice-Principal had a feeling that it was something else and not really a physical ailment. She invited him to her office to colour, read books and play with her Pete The Cat plush. He didn't stay long and returned to his class. He also did his work like he was supposed to and got rewarded by going to the teacher's aide's office that afternoon to listen to classical music!

I feel sorry for Philip, I really do. It hurts me that my little guy has to go through this. Over the past weekend, I bought him a dragon plush because he wanted to take his favourite Monkey stuffed animal to school. He never asked for Monkey until very recently. That broke my heart but I did not allow him to bring Monkey. I was afraid that he would forget it there and he wont sleep without it.


Mr. Monkey in cake form. It was for Philip's first birthday. I went a wee bit overboard.


I explained to Philip that the dragon can stay in his bag. At recess or lunch or after school, if he needs comfort, he has something cuddly to soothe him. I felt like a new plush would be more appealing to him than allowing him to take something he already owns. I also took him out for ice cream for lunch, then hot chocolate at Starbucks and we had Mcdonald's for supper. He saw these robot dudes while we were purchasing his dragon. He also ended up getting them. I used the excuse that I treated myself to two Pop Figurines so it is only fair he got a treat.  He "needed" summer clothes. He really did need shorts but he has plenty t-shirts....but.... it is not my fault that a Ninja Turtle, a Lego one, an Avengers one and a Legend Of Zelda shirt made its way home too. I didn't just buy him things to make him feel better. We spent all day together, just the two of us and we had tons of quality time. We went to the library, we played outside in our backyard, we watched a movie together too. We talked about silly things and he was happy to have his mom all to himself. He told me that his favourite part of the day was that he had "Mommy Philly time" and he got to eat ice cream for lunch! I am surprised I was able to do all that with my sore back but I did! It is amazing what we can manage to do for our kids when we know they are hurting!

Best lunch ever!

On Sunday, I went to Ikea with my niece Lori. Jay bonded with Philip for the afternoon while I was getting lost in Ikea and they did "cool guy stuff" which translated as rough housing and probably going to the playground. He ended up getting two plush bats out of the five I purchased. He got two to represent a mommy bat and a smaller one to represent the baby. We have a thing, I am mama bat and he is Philly bat (used to be my baby bat but he is no longer a baby according to him. He doesn't quite get the whole goth baby bat phase yet) Another large bat and baby bat were for me, This also was to represent me and him. Jay doesn't quite fit in this whole Mommy Philly bat equation, that's ok. He has his own thing with his dad but Jay got a large bat nonetheless because who doesn't need a bat plush?


My shopping cart full of bats. Squeee!


I am looking at this as a learning opportunity for Philip.. As much as I want to put him in a bubble or go into "mama bear" mode, I am remaining as calm as I can be with this situation. In reality, my anxiety is high and I really didn't want to send him back to school this morning. I am using this as a teaching tool instead because we all know that this will help him deal with difficult situations or people later on in life. Being a parent is the hardest job I ever have but I think I am doing the right thing.  I also decided I wont be so hard on Philip. I will try to access the situation and punish accordingly. I don't want him to think that he is getting away with things because he is being bullied. On the other hand,  I also don't want to go too hard on him and he will be afraid to come to me in the future about these types of problems. It is a tough juggling act. Sometimes you have practice tough love, after all, there is a reason why the mama bird kicks the baby bird out of the nest. All I can do is give him tools to control his temper, to be supportive of him, to give him courage, to love him with all my heart and to have his back so he can survive the remainder of the school year. My poor little bat.

To end this post on a positive note, Philip did go to school today. He had an excellent day. He was all smiles when I got home. He told me that the teacher moved his seat further away from the bully and he did his work like he was supposed to. Apparently, the bully did pick on him AGAIN (when will this kid learn, seriously?) but Philip retaliated by picking on him too and it ended there.

 I just want to take a moment to thank you, dear readers, for reading this very lengthy post and to also say thanks in advance for your support. It was very therapeutic for me to sit here and write this all down.

 

10 comments:

  1. I think you are one hell of a TERRIFIC mom! I would have done the exact same things you did, and for the same reasons. Being a parent is one of the scariest and one of the most fantastic jobs in the world. Sometimes it feels like you can't win for losing... and other times, you can't lose for winning. :-) Your descriptions of the fun stuff you do with Philip remind me of the days when Stuart was little and we did fun stuff together. I miss that!

    I want to tell you a story, NOT to scare you, but to validate your feelings about dealing with your son's anger issues. One of my cousins was born with a really horrific temper. Unfortunately, my aunt and uncle thought it was funny, and loved to tease him when he was little so he would get mad; he would actually hit them in a rage, and they would laugh because they thought it was "cute". When he got bigger and stronger, it wasn't funny anymore, but by then it was too late. Normally he is a really nice guy, but when he gets angry, he totally loses it, sort of like a berserker. Now he is in prison, and a few years ago he got into a fight with another inmate and beat him to death; the guards had to shoot him to get him to stop. Honestly, while his parents had NO idea this would happen, and they weren't being deliberately cruel, I believe that the way they chose NOT to deal with his anger issues is the main reason he is where he is today. Bullies need help, yes, but so do their prey, and if Philip learns how to stand up to them without losing his cool, he will no longer be prey, and he'll be in SUCH a good place for later in life!

    I hope your neck is continuing to heal. Keep up the great posts!

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    1. Thank you Lucretia. I often pick on Philip. When he was younger, whenever a commercial for a Barbie doll came on tv, I would tell him I would get him that for Christimas. He used to flip out but now he knows that we are only teasing! The kid can take a joke. Last night, I was trying to make supper and he kept complaining that he was hungry. I told him that we are on a new budget and that we can no longer afford to feed him so he is going to have to starve :) The kid laughed and said I was silly. He said he knows I would never really do that because I love him! There are times he gets really mad, like I wrote in this post, he can go from a 1 to a 10 in matter of seconds. Like this morning when we told him he put his shoes on the wrong feet! We are working on it and hopefully it sinks in. Thank you for validating my fears and sharing your personal story about your cousin.

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  2. Oh, parenting can be so heartbreaking~ school life is hard and the difficult part for my point of view is the want to keep my little ones in that bubble but really have very little control of what is happening during a school day. My son is autistic so he has an adult with just him the whole day, so I'm pretty secure with that but I know that people say mean things to him every once in a while. Both of my kids go to same school and there are hundreds of average kids plus three classes of autistic children. My daughter is going to have an ADD diagnosis in near future so we have been also dealing with her school issues lately. She is brilliant with her work but her temper is an issue. I can just love her, care , listen and set safe boundaries but that's it. I wish you all so much strenght and belief that things will work out , cause they eventually always will :)

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    1. Oh dear, I really feel for you. I have one child, I can only imagine what it is like with two. *hugs* we will get through this. I wish you strength too.

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  3. I can relate to the school age thing. My birthday's in November. So, everybody in my class was always a year older than me.

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  4. I'm sorry to hear that yor litte boy has been bullied, and am glad that the school have handled it so well. I can't help wondering what makes the other child a bully though. I mean, perhaps he's having a hard time at home.

    Glad your back's better, too.

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    1. I know. I am wondering about that kid's home life too but at the end of the day, I need to worry about my son and his wellbeing. I can't tell another parent how to raise their kid. I can only hope she is doing her best and can find help for her kid. It is not easy admitting that your kid isnt perfect because as a parent, we often think they are but we need to do this.

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  5. I just want to reach through the screen and give you a great big hug! Being a parent is really hard, and having a child being bullied is probably one of the worst fears most parents have to deal with.
    I'm glad your school managed to find a solution that works so well for your son. I'm quite amazed that the schoold didn't alert you to the situation earlier, though. I really hope everything gets better from now on.

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    1. I did ask the school why I wasnt notified of the situation. I mean Philip did come home to tell me all this. I was told it is because the kid bullies everyone. Thank you very much for the hug.

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