The Boy is being bullied.
I had suspicions, but he was still so eager to go to school. He would tell me that he didn’t want to play with a certain boy anymore (let’s call him ‘X’), and that X wasn’t a very nice person.
Now, before anyone tells me I’m over-reacting or using a super-charged word when I oughtn’t, I researched bullying quite a bit this morning and have discovered that, yes, what The Boy is experiencing is, in fact, bullying.
According to the Stop Bullying Now campaign, bullying consists of three generally agreed upon elements:
X is older than The Boy; the oldest child in the class, in fact. The Boy attends a Montessori program at his school, where grades PreK3 through Kindergarten are all in the same classrooms. Kindergarteners have their own breakout sessions, but the idea is to ensure the children have all the necessary skills for grade school.
Well, as you may have surmised, X is a Kindergartener. He was also already 6 years old when the school year began in August, so he is much older than my almost-5-year-old and, understandably, much bigger.
Imbalance of power? Check.
The Boy told both Cute Husband and me that X hits him and kicks him. It’s not on accident; it’s deliberate. And X has told The Boy that if he doesn’t do what he says, none of the other kids will play with him. As such, the boys only play games X wants to play, and The Boy is afraid to stand up to him because he doesn’t want to be ostracized.
Intent to cause harm? Check.
And lastly, the above is not an isolated incident. Cute Husband and I have both known this has been a problem for several months. I’ve talked to Ms. M, and she is quite aware. She separates them in the classroom and keeps a watchful eye, but she can only do so much when these things happen away from her.
Yesterday after an event at school (I volunteered to help), I wanted to talk to her about X but didn’t have an opportunity. So after I came home and learned that The Boy told Cute Husband that he doesn’t want to go back to school (he told me that yesterday morning), I sent his teacher the following message:
Hi, Ms. M! I wanted to talk to you really quick about some stuff The Boy has said that concerns us. He’s told both Cute Husband and me that X hits him and kicks him and has told him that other kids won’t play with him if he doesn’t do what he says. He’s afraid to tell on him, and this was the first time he told us he doesn’t want to go back to school because of that. I’m not sure what to do or tell him. I know X is a bigger kid and others look up to him because of it. The Boy said he doesn’t want to be in the same class as X anymore. I told him it’s just until the end of the school year, but then he started counting the number of months left. Suggestions?
Within minutes, she replied and said she will call me on Monday. In the meantime, I’ve praised The Boy for coming to us about this and let him know that his teacher and I will talk about it. And Cute Husband and I have reviewed with him the things he can say to someone bothering him. The Boy is not shy about telling people when they bother him, so that combined with this sudden desire to skip school was the cause for the red flag.
No one wants their child to be bullied, but I guess mine is one of the “roughly one in four” children who are the targets of bullying before Middle School.
One study I read suggests preschool bullies target the kids they most envy or want to be like. And Cute Husband and I can both see how this may be a possibility. When Cute Husband chaperoned a field trip in November, X asked Cute Husband to buy him a Beyblade Tornado (The Boy had one and X clearly wanted one, too). And both times I volunteered to lead crafts in the classroom, X made a fuss about getting my attention, and I noticed that his parents haven’t signed up to lead crafts.
Is X screaming for attention and acting out against The Boy because he subconsciously wants his life? Is he exerting all this power over his classmates because he feels powerless at home? Possibly and possibly. And it makes me sad for X, that he has this need to overpower his classmates out of envy or misplaced aggression.
But it still doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s tormenting my kid. And it doesn’t make me feel better about it.