It is every parents worst nightmare, playground bullying and your child is the victim. Here one mother, who wishes to remain anonymous tells of her heartache at discovering her son was being bullied.
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Oh, since having children there have been MANY sleepless nights. Too many to write about, too many to recall, too many. I wouldn’t change any of them. They taught me that I am not infallible, that I can’t control everything and that not everything can be explained with a manual. Gina Ford, step aside, after all those sleepless nights, you would do well to stay away.
Now my babies have grown up. They are at school, a semi routine is now in place. By that I mean that there is a battle every night to get them into bed and they now also answer back!
When I was pregnant with my son I worried constantly. I knew there was trouble ahead. My mother didn’t help, bleating on like a newborn lamb, warning me what a nightmare it was to have a baby, all day long. Back then to worry myself further, I even went online to watch videos of the birth, I watched blue headed babies coming out of the birth canals looking like The Smurfs only drawn by someone who was clearly stoned!
Anyway, even with all this and the constant weeing through the night and endless worrying, none of these nights were my most sleepless night. Neither was the night I came home from hospital, with this stunning sun tanned (jaundiced!) baby boy who didn’t sleep for 3 ½ years!
No, my most sleepless night was when I realized that my gorgeous, loving boy was being bullied.
Life at that time was happening at a lightning pace, my step-father was very ill and all of us were imploding as we tried to keep a veneer of normality, in a unique set of circumstances.
And, I let things slip.
I didn’t see that my son was having his confidence chipped away, day by day.
He kept it to himself, in all the noise of life.
Once I realised what was happening, the first question I asked him was Why? Why did he not feel he could come to me?
His beautiful, typically innocent and sweet answer was this,
“I didn’t want to worry you Mummy, you have so much going on….”
I have never felt so broken.
I let him down, to the extent that he felt that he had to protect me.
The thing is that before becoming a parent you think you will behave in a certain way and then, when you become one, you do things very differently.
The school playground is a minefield for kids and parents alike and you have to tread very carefully. You can go in there, all guns blazing and try to sort something out, but ultimately your child, will be the one who pays the price.
I handled things in a way that I am not proud of.
I am not ashamed, either. I am just left confused by it.
I started by going down the ‘official’ channels; Teacher, Deputy Head, Head, they didn’t work.
He was still vulnerable.
Then I saw it.
The bullying with my own eyes. My beautiful boy being called a piece of “shit” by a boy in his class.
It was at a child’s party outside of school, so there were no ‘official’ channels, just me.
I erupted and told the child exactly what i thought of his treatment of my beautiful boy.
I had maintained my cool previously, toed the line, tried to do things the ‘right’ way but this time, seeing him there, taking it, in front of me, I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
The boy’s mother turned up and I told her what had happened and her response?
“Oh he doesn’t mean it, it's just boys”.
No, it is not just boys.
I know this because it would never enter my son’s head to speak that way to someone, to belittle them, to deliberately make another child sad and if by some fluke of nature it did ever happen, I would not accept his behavior. Ever.
As school terms came and went, the endless conversations with teachers continued and nothing changed. I continued to tow the ‘official’ line, go through the ‘official’ channels and nothing changed.
My little boy’s life did not improve.
The school’s response was to give him a rubber star to squeeze when things got too much.
I was told that he had anger issues as he would lash out when things happened in the playground, when it all got too much.
I did not deal with this well, before the bullying there were never any issues with his behavior.
“What happens to the bully”, I ask?
They were not at liberty to answer that, they said.
It went on and on, until the boy changed schools and it became clear that, that was the schools answer to the problem too.
No, need to worry, as he won’t be our problem soon.
No he won’t, he will be some other little boy’s nightmare though. Some other Mother will have to watch their child change in front of their eyes. Some other Mother will feel powerless to help. Some other family will feel the full force of this boy’s hatred.
My most sleepless nights are caused because I am unable to protect my son. At school he is out of my care and while out of that care, he has been changed, forever.
Gone is the happy go lucky boy I knew and what has replaced him, is a little boy full of nerves. His innocence has been shattered unable to shine without fear of retribution like the rest of us, he is continually assessing what other people might think of him, what he can do to make it better. He is having to learn one of life’s hardest lessons; that we can’t be liked by everyone but what we can do, is accept that not everyone will have the same thoughts and opinions as us and that although sometimes hard, is ok.
Instead of hating people for being different we should embrace the differences and be proud of being different ourselves.
He will get there because I am determined that, that boy will not have a lasting impact on my boy.
My beautiful boy will return to the happy go lucky character he once was and he will triumph over the bully, becoming a stronger man in spite of that boy and his playground taunts, I know this and I am so very proud of him.
NB - At the wishes of the Mother, we read this piece for her as she preffered to remain anonymous. We thank her for her beautiful piece and honesty.