By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
This is hard to talk about. It is embarrassing, humiliating, and somehow a reflection of how my parenting has somehow taken a wrong turn. I am one who has no tolerance for bullying – EVER. When my oldest son was bullied in high school by some redneck kid (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, went to the school, talked to an administrator, and it was straightened out and over. When my youngest son was bullied this year in middle school by a snarky girl (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, called the teacher, who spoke to the counselor and together they dealt with it. So imagine my absolute horror this morning when I receive a call from the assistant principal of the middle school: my son was in her office…for bullying.
She proceeded to tell me that he and another student had gotten into trouble during band class for talking too much, and when they didn’t stop, they got sent to the office. The other student had told my son to “shut up,” but when pressed for the reason, the truth came out that it was because my son had been picking on him for weeks during band. Teasing him and making fun of him when he got notes to the music wrong, or for making a mistake while they were all playing. I hung my head as I heard her tell me that while my child had told the truth and admitted his role, that it was indeed a form of bullying, and she had just suspended another for ten days for the same thing. What do I say? What do I do? I was immediately at a loss, and wanted to crawl under a rock. I told her that I absolutely did not understand where it was coming from, considering he had gone through the same thing just a short time ago in the school year. She also knew about the previous incident, and therefore didn’t quite understand herself. So she said that she wanted to put him into in-school suspension for today, and for the two days following; I told her I was absolutely behind her one hundred percent. But now I have to figure out what to say and do when he gets home – there has to be consequences here as well. I am just at a loss.
I have thought about it all day, since I got the phone call. When I called Erikka, she was at a loss as well. We have both seen how he can be with other kids, and have had talks with him about the way that he treats others. We know he is very intelligent, but with that comes the problem that HE knows he is very intelligent. We have seen and heard him with other kids, talking down to them like they are dumb, or not as smart as he. So now he is apparently talking down to kids in band, speaking to them like they aren’t as good as he is as well. After years and years, for as long as I can remember, he has been taught tolerance and to treat others as he would want to be treated. We don’t believe that we are better than anyone else, so I’m not sure where he would obtain this arrogant attitude. It is very troubling to me, as his mom, just as it was troubling when he was being bullied by someone else. I absolutely cannot abide my kid being THAT kid – but how do I stop it? I will, of course, call his dad this evening, and I am sure that he will want to talk to him. It just seems that no matter what any of us say to him, or take away from him as punishment, nothing seems to get through. I think this is what is the most disturbing to me – consequences don’t seem to phase him. How do I get through to him, to make him see all of the potential that he possesses in that magnificent brain, if only he would use it for making himself into a productive and successful person on planet Earth?
What do you do when it’s YOUR kid who is the bully?
I tearfully told him of my disappointment, embarrassment, and disgust over his actions. I told him about the little boy who lived a few miles from us, who killed himself three years ago at the age of nine, because he was bullied. That boy would be twelve today, and in the sixth grade. I told him that I could not tolerate my child being part of this horrible problem of bullying in this nation.
“Noah, you absolutely cannot be part of the problem, and it is a very big and very real and very wrong problem. You MUST be part of the solution. That kid that you picked on may not have very many friends, and what if you were the factor that pushes him to suicide – you don’t want to live with that kind of guilt. Every one of those kids that have killed themselves over bullying experienced someone who was part of the problem – the bully. You don’t want to be that person. You can be part of the solution. You can be his friend. We can never have too many friends.”
“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.”
~ Jeffrey Benjamin