Thursday, April 30, 2015

What I Need You To Know About That Mean Kid at School

This post has been coming for a while, and I have run over the words in my head a hundred times.  The best I can do is to just try to get it out.

My kid can act like a real jerk.  Not long ago we had a message from the school that a kid he rides with on the bus told her mother my son threatened her.  There's no defending it - he said it.  He didn't mean it, and he would never do it, but he told a girl on the bus he was going to beat her up.  I was horrified, not just because it's an awful thing for my son to say - and it is - but also because I know exactly what other people will think of him when they hear this.

I can imagine what it's like to be the parents of that child who comes home and says there is a bully on the bus.  I would be upset, angry, I would be writing to the principal just as this mother did. I would be worried for my child and I would be thinking this kid on the bus must be awful, a real monster, a little shit.

A little shit.  I've heard many people refer to children that way, kids who behave badly, kids who can be mean, kids who get angry easily, kids who threaten.

That little shit is my son.  He's 7.

Sometimes, after an incident where he has said something or done something wrong, he cries and tells me he wishes he wasn't alive.  That he is bad and should never have been born.

Sometimes he feels so bad inside he doesn't know how to express it, and I don't know why.  And I don't think he knows why either.

He's just a little boy.

He's insecure and he doesn't know how to deal with his emotions.  He has some behavioural problems, and we are working on them.

He's my baby, I am his mother.

I sometimes cry with frustration and sadness at my inability to figure out what's going on in his head, why he lashes out, why he says awful things.  I read, I research, and I try, and I struggle, and I cry because I know there are parents who think he's a little shit and I'm failing.  Maybe I am failing.  But I'm trying.

My little boy is an insecure child who desperately wants to be liked, but sometimes thinks no one likes him, that he's not good enough somehow.  He tries to put on a tough front, but he doesn't understand how that looks to grown-ups living in our culture of fear that a bully might target our child.  He doesn't get how his attempts to look cool are making him less likely to be liked.

I get it.  No child should be afraid of another child at school.  My son has no right to act the way he does.  It's not ok.  I promise you we are working on it.  I know there are parents out there who probably aren't stepping up to do something about the way their kids act, but please don't jump to that conclusion.  Please don't assume every parent whose child acts out has their head in the sand, doesn't care, is a bad parent who is ok with their kid being a bully.

I want you to know that he is not a bully.  He doesn't want to hurt or harass anyone, or to make anyone's life miserable.  He's not a bad kid, deep inside.  He has a huge heart.  I have seen him give things away to make other people happy, I have seen him cry when he thought he hurt someone he loves.  I see every day the kindness that is in him, the love, the heart.  I know you don't see that.  I wish you did.

He can be so sweet. He loves hugs and snuggles.  He loves his dog, his mommy, his blankie.  He's 7.

I get that it hurts your heart as a mother to hear that another kid is being mean to your kid.  I get that you want something to be done.  I want to promise you that I am doing something.

It hurts my heart to know that you think my child is a mean little shit.  It hurts me to know you have a reason to feel that way.  I need you to know he's not a bad kid, just one who has some problems and struggles, as we all do, and who doesn't always do the right thing.

All I ask is that you please stop and remember, when you hear tales of a child who is being mean at school, that he or she is just a little kid.  That there is a mom who loves that kid as much as you love yours.  That there is more to the story.

Please, take a moment to consider how much it hurts to hear a child like mine called a horrible name, or spoken of like he deserves retaliation.  Kids who are struggling with behavioural problems don't need or deserve retaliation.  They need our support, help, and love.

And as their parents, we could use some of that support too.  Because just like you, we didn't get a manual, and just like you, we're doing our best.

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