Friday, November 19, 2010

I Wrote This Post INSTEAD of Eating a Gallon of Ice Cream

It's never easy to see your child upset. Over the years this family has dealt with (multiple) bully situations, problems with school in various capacities, punishments from misbehavior at home, and any number of the other regular "childhood trauma" that go along with being a kid. Even in the instances that they've brought the pain down upon themselves, it's difficult to witness. I thought that the pain they brought on themselves was the worst to witness but I was wrong. This week I found out that it's so much worse when the reason for their upset can be directly linked to a shortcoming of your own.

A few weeks ago, Jake stormed off the bus and slammed into the house. For those of you who know us personally, you understand that words like "stormed" and "slammed" generally do not belong in a sentence with Jake's name. He is our old soul. He is...well, peace personified. Obviously this was a huge indication that something was wrong, and I had a feeling it was a little more serious than Sam getting on his nerves. (That might seem mean, but when Jake does get irritated it is usually due to something that Sam has said or done to him. They are brothers; what can I say?)

I hate that I have to write this next part. It's so upsetting and embarrassing. It's just--awful.

I got about a fraction of a second to take in the scene before he threw his bookbag down, ripped off his coat and said, "Those kids! They are so mean! They said really terrible things about you."

And my heart just sank. It sunk deep down into the pit of my stomach and settled in for a nice, long stay. Because really? There's only one thing that "those kids" would be able to say about me just from looking at me, right? The "F" word. The F-A-T word.

We had a long discussion that afternoon. We talked about how sometimes kids say stupid and mean things because they simply don't know better. How what other people say doesn't really matter, especially when they do not know us. We talked about how he should ignore these kids. We talked about how mom was working on losing weight but that being fat (oh, the utter embarrassment of having to say these things to my kid!) doesn't make me worthless or horrible. How I'm still the same on the inside as everyone else, even if others can't or won't or aren't able to see it.

It wasn't fun. It made me feel so sad and guilty. It made me angry. It hurt my feelings. It embarrassed me. It just sucked, really. Fortunately it did not make me spiral into falling off plan. I had already started doing the South Beach thing again. I managed to shrug off the entire incident after a couple days. Jake didn't say anything else about having trouble on the bus. Life went back to normal.

And then.

Earlier this week Hurricane Jake blew back into the house. His face was red, his eyes were bright, and you could taste the indignation in the room. I don't think he even made it all the way into the house before he started spouting off about what those kids had said this time. It was more of the same, until he got to the end.

"--and they said that you and I are too fat to fit in a house!"

It was the "and I" part that got my attention. Because that? That is escalation. That is a sign that we need some reinforcements. We had another long conversation. The kids had not stopped making fun of me these last few weeks, Jake just quit telling me about it. He tried ignoring them. Then he got so angry that he started telling them they were stupid. (In retrospect, the initial conversation should probably not have started with, "Honey, sometimes kids say stupid things." I'll be filing that one away for further use. Feel free to review it as well, should you ever have the need. You are welcome.)

I called the school the next day. Another humbling experience, and terrifying as well. We have not had a great track record with school administrations in the past. (Story for another day; sorry, but this one is long enough already.) The idea of having to use someone from the school as an advocate for my son was just scary. (I know that this is part of their job. It's a testament to just how bad our past experiences have been that this was such a cause for alarm.)

The principal was, in a word, awesome. She seemed honestly upset about this whole situation. (The cynic in me is wondering about motives but I keep shoving those thoughts aside and have decided that this principal is just a good and decent person who does the right thing because it's the right thing and not because, "that fat b---- might sue". Oh yes, I am messed up in the head.) She promised to get the situation resolved and that she would get back to me. I thought, "Okay, it's Wednesday. Hopefully we'll have this sorted out by Friday." She called back less than 2 hours later.

I'm going to derail this post a bit to talk about just how awesome she really was. That woman had to have dropped everything she was in the middle of and made this (in other words, our son) her top priority. (Which seriously, just brought me to tears again as I write this. That has never happened for us before. Period.) She pulled Jake out of recess and had him tell her everything that had happened. She pulled the two kids in question out of class and talked to them. They both owned up to it so it never came down to a "he said/he said" situation. She called and talked to both sets of parents and explained the situation. The kids were given a warning (we did not want anything else and I made it a point to tell her so) and the whole thing was done. I could not feel better about the school that we chose for our kids if I tried.

Jake is feeling better about the situation and the reality of the situation is that nothing else matters. Nothing. Please know that I understand that. But my heart still hurts. I am still racked with guilt. I wonder if these kids would have picked on Jake at all if they hadn't seen me waving to the kids one morning? How much of this is my fault? My brain says that they would have just found something else to tease him about. That these kids aren't ones I would want as friends for my child anyway. But my heart just breaks that it was something about me that caught their attention and dragged it his way. And I don't know how to deal with that.


  1. Thank you, Lora. I keep trying to tell myself all that. I'm just struggling a little with it. The principal told me that one mom in particular was "mortified that her son would say the things he did" and that she asked that I be told it wouldn't happen again. So at least one of the kids has a parent who seems to care. Who knows about the other.

    Jake did do great, though. He's a such a wonderful kid. :)

  2. We did find such a great school. You know the back story to the school stuff; I'm sure you can imagine how terrifying that call was for me!

    Thanks, K. :)

  3. What an amazing son and an amazing principle. I'm really glad your son was able to talk to you about it and that shows what an amazing mom you are that he was so upset by what the kids were saying. I'm so impressed with the principle for actually doing something and not just telling you to get over it.
    You are also amazing for doing all of that to stand up for your son and more importantly yourself. I will be filing away this story in my head for how to handle bullying in the future. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

  4. As scary as it is to share this here (and it very much is!), it's worse to try to share it with people in real life. I was extremely relieved that I could talk to the principal on the phone. I don't think I would have been as composed in person.

    I hope that you never have to deal with bullying, but I'd love to think that this experience could help someone else. Thank you for your comment. :)



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