Friday, March 16, 2012

The Bully

In my last post, I wrote a letter to Spiro to celebrate his birthday. I touched on the fact that the world and the people in it scare me at times... "You are growing up so fast. Sometimes, I get scared about all the crazy things in the world and that one day soon you will be confronted with them." I didn't realize that that day would come this week.

Spiro came home from school on Monday very excited about the fact that he had nabbed the highly coveted classroom job of "Teacher's Helper" this week. In all honesty, this job was made for him. Helping is his thing, Responsibility is his thing. As "Teacher's Helper", one of his responsibilities includes holding the door open for the class to go outside for recess. On Tuesday, as the last child filed outside and Spiro was closing the door, a little boy came back and smacked him in the face and walked away.

We were made aware of the situation when the hubby picked Spiro up from school. Spiro had told his substitute what had happened and the boy was sent to the office. We were told that the boy hit our son because he was told to do so by another student. I'm not sure which disturbs me more, the fact that a first grade child thought it was okay to hit my son or the fact that a first grade child had the ability to manipulate another child to hit my son.

I understand that for some people, they would file this away under "kids will be kids". Simply put, I can't, I won't. This is a big deal for us. We made this a big deal to Spiro. We chose the politically incorrect route of telling him next time "hit him back, and tell him never to touch you again". Is this the right way to handle out? I don't know. What I do know is that sometimes you have to fight fire with fire and that we are, at times, forced to play in a game with rules we didn't choose.

Although the hubby wanted to pull "a hand that rocks the cradle" and jack the little boy up and tell him never to place a finger on his son again, I explained to him that despite the fact I did indeed feel the same way, I was pretty sure that jacking up students is "frowned upon" by the school and that maybe we just needed to calm down a little. We took a few deep breaths and explained to Spiro "that no one ever has the right to put their hands on you or hit you. That we think you are pretty freakin' special and wonderful and we think that you are and always will be worth fighting for. We want you to think your worth standing up for also. We never want you to start a fight or be a troublemaker but you always have the right to defend yourself. We don't care if that moves your name on red or places you in the seat of the principals office. We just want you to know that you are one the most important things to us and the thought of someone making you feel sad, hurt or not special... kind of breaks our hearts."

Spiro was nervous to go to school the next day and face the little boy. He asked to stay home from school, which I quickly made him aware was not an option. I explained to him that we don't run from our problems because they will never go away. That he needed to walk into school with his head up and proud that he is Spiro. That he is still the same smart, kind, responsible boy that he was the morning before and that no one can change that unless he allows them to. He went into school and that afternoon when I picked him up from school, he had an apology letter from the little boy.

When I get sad about my boys growing up, it's because of these types of experiences that I know they will continue to be confronted with. I really thought I would have a few more years to prepare Spiro for stuff like this. Seven years just wasn't enough time to help him decipher between being kind and standing up for himself. I'm not even sure if I know how to balance that yet. I'm confused as to how to explain to him to be tough when the going gets tough but not to let that toughness take over the kindness in his heart. How do you teach a child not to become jaded? It's as though I have forgotten to read a book that I am now forced to take a test on and I'm left trying to skim through the cliffs notes in 5 minutes for the answers.

I wrote this post yesterday but with no time to edit, I left it for today and left the house to pick up Spiro from school. Billy and I waited outside, like we always do, for Spiro's class to be dismissed and when we spotted Spiro, who do you think he was walking with side by side, chatting and laughing with? That's right, the little boy who had hit him two days before. I inquired about his new buddy after we all piled back into the car and Spiro told me. "I forgive him Mommy, we're friends. I think he might have just been having a bad day." That's my Spiro.

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