Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bullying - It starts at Preschool

So, I'm sitting here in the wee hours of the morning on a Saturday, when I should be resting my weary head and catching up on all kinds of zzz's.  Instead, I've been tossing and turning, and my brain is whirring like a monstrously big Acme machine.  You see, I'm still plagued by a problem my daughter is facing at preschool, and its now escalated to where my only possible next option is to take it directly to the other child's mom.  I know it's already been taken to her mom by the teachers at the school, but my daughter's safety is in question, and all I can visualize is that she will be the one with a facebook page everyone in the country is going to check out after she's had a tragic accident at the tender age of 15....Just google suicide after bullying, and it's enough to make you ill how this is trending and you'll find your chin hitting your desk, shaking your head in dismay.

My God, suicide is the solution for a kid as young as 9 years old.  Bullying is not like it was when I grew up.  It almost seems like as hard as it was, it was so much simpler to deal with than it is now.  We need new ways to arm our kids against it, and we need new ways to impact it even happening in the first place.  And the major difference is technology.  Bullying starts with the same physical things it used to.  Name calling, shoving, hitting.  But then it escalates.  Kids get cell phones so that they can reach their parents at a moment's notice, but instead they get used to take incriminating photos or video.  They become an instrument of the abuse.  They become the access these kids use to polish off the evidence and extend their reach of infamy to broader audiences.  It's how they grow their entourage.  It's not like when the bullies I grew up with had to work hard to garner their respect.  They didn't need to acquire each follower one by one.  And they are no longer satisfied with a small posse.  They need massive followings,  Herds of sheep they can control.  The age in which my daughter is growing up requires new responses and a new education.  I for one can not even comprehend how this is starting so young.  But it is.  That is our reality, and this is when it starts, apparently.

At 4am this morning, I realized this is her future if I don't do something about it now.  My daughter isn't even 3 yet, and I'm tackling bullying as hard as I've ever tackled it in my life, so that I can prevent this from happening.  And as I write the letter out to the other girl's mother, I can visualize the mother's physical response.  Shoulders hunch over.  Her head sinks and begins to shake in disbelief as she reads it.  Her body involuntarily sighs, not from relief, but from being so overwhelmed and disappointed.  She takes a deep breath in and steels herself.  Her spine stiffens, she raises her shoulders and sits up straight.  Instead of accepting what's been written down and approaching it with calm openness, she is incensed and is now braced for combat.  Outraged.  How dare someone accuse her precious pocket of gold of being a bully?  That's for teenagers.  She's only in preschool dammit.

So knowing how this will be received my letter gets stronger.  It points out how it's affecting my child - cya as I've learned in business, is critical.  BUT, it's aim is to take down some of the brick wall defenses that have already gone up.  Why is a two year old plagued by nightmares?  Why is she talking about being hit every day, being called names, and dumping sand out of her boot as she recounts that it was sand that must have fallen in there when Amy threw it at her today?  The more I write, the angrier I get and the more I want to throw up.  It goes against every single instinct I have to leave my child in a situation where she is being bullied and is unsafe.

The letter continues to point out my next steps are to require a curriculum and a policy changeat the preschool to address bullying, and calls out that I'm teaching my daughter how to fight back.  I want her mother on notice in case her precious piece of turd comes home with a black eye or whining that my child hit her.  It goes on to say that if things don't get resolved, that I'll formally request her child be expelled.

My first instinct is to remove my own child.  But that doesn't send the right message to anyone, and for God's sake, my child is not the problem.

I'm sure something is "off" at home.  No child comes into this world so corrupted that their instinct is to target a smaller, younger person and make a punching bag out of them.  They learn it at home first.  When I was young, I was the one who fought for the under dogs.  I protected my baby brother fiercely, just as I'd protect others who were picked on.  What I want to do is grab this kid by the scruff of her neck and put her in check.  But as we get older and have children of our own, this becomes impossible.  It's taboo.  That's someone else's child and disciplining them is someone else' responsibility and obligation.  I'd like to say that I wish there were thresholds where other people could intervene when it's not being done well enough, but I can't say who I'd want to make that decision, nor would I want that unilateral responsibility.

At the end of the day, the only thing that is wrong here is that one person, the smaller, weaker one with far less experience, is being attacked regularly without provoking it.  I'm at my wits end, and I have to protect numero uno.  And if it comes down to it, if my only feasible option is to move my child, I'll do it.  I have to hope it won't come to that, because I honestly don't like all the potential scenarios that unfold in that particular solution either.

And it all still feels like this is just so wrong to be cropping up in a preschool.  My God, why don't people parent their children?

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