Yesterday I was faced with a really difficult dilemma. As you all know by now, my kids love giving me a hard time and occasionally have those tween/teen attitudes, but for the most part, I have great children. They’re respectful (to everyone except me), smart, driven, motivated, talented, and very well-rounded.
Starting just this year, things have gotten a little tough with the seventh grader/teenager, as these little aliens, also known as hormones, have taken over his life, causing him to because more lazy and not so on top of his homework and things like that.
No, he’s not a delinquent, and he isn’t flunking out of middle school. I’ve just had to ride him a little bit harder than I always have. Let me also mention that he’s never done drugs, never had a “serious” girlfriend (well, as serious as they get in middle school), hasn’t had sex, has never been in a fight, and have never been to juvie.
With all that being said, yesterday something happened that I never imagined I would have to deal with from any of my kids.
Gerald was on the playground for recess, playing gaga ball (I have no idea, so don’t ask, but it’s the latest rage in recess games) with his friends. One of the not-so-nice kids at his school started picking on and bullying Gerald’s best friend. Gerald told him to leave his friend alone.
They proceeded to play the game again, and the bully kid got out. He refused to leave the gaga ball pit and wait for the next round, as one is supposed to do when he “gets out” in the game. Gerald said to him, “Dude, if you’re not going to play right, then why don’t you just leave and not play at all?”
Well…. that’s when it happened. The kid got in Gerald’s face and pushed him. Gerald says that he continued to grab his shirt after he pushed him and didn’t just push him and let him go. So he says he pushed him back to get the kid off of him. Of course when Gerald pushed him back, things escalated, and the kid tried to all-out fight him. A tussle ensued, and to make a long story short, both kids got suspended.
Needless to say, I get a call from one of the school administrators yesterday to tell me what happened, and as you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy about it. The administrator assured me that Gerald is a good kid and that it’s just school policy to suspend students who get in physical altercations. He told me that usually when a kid gets in trouble, he almost always recognizes the kid’s name immediately. He said this wasn’t the case with Gerald, and that he had to look him up in the computer to even figure out who “Gerald” was. He said he’s a good student and has never been in trouble before and explained that this would not be on his permanent record or carry over to next school year. He also explained that the suspension itself wasn’t really a big deal since the students are done working for the year and are just watching movies these last three days.
Not a big deal, huh? Well, it kind of is to me. My kids know better than to fight at all, much less in school.
So this is where I’m torn…
Gerald swears up and down that this kid is one of the school’s bullies and that he was being really mean to his best friend. When I asked why his friend couldn’t stand up for himself, he asked me the best (yet hardest) question ever:
“If someone isn’t strong enough or comfortable to stand up for himself, shouldn’t I do it for him? You always told me to stand up to bullies.”
“If you see someone being bullied, make it stop.
Why is that so hard for us to do?”
What could I say to that, really? I hate to say it, but he kind of had a good point. While I’m so angry at him for getting into a fight and getting suspended, I’m also kind of proud of him. He’s usually such a follower (his little brother is the leader amongst his friends), but this time he didn’t care what anyone else thought of him. He saw someone being bullied, and he stood up to him.
It’s in times and situations like these where you realize that parenting is the hardest job ever. And where you constantly question whether you’re failing as a parent or doing a pretty decent job. Unfortunately, the true answer to that test probably won’t be clear until our children are adults themselves. But in the meantime, I’ll keep doing the best I can and keep praying for my little boys who grow up more and more every day.
“Bullying is not okay. Period.”
~Jim C. Hines
Resources to Help Stop Bulling: