The fugitive…

Sadly, I am not referring to the movie or the TV series made in 1963.  I am referring to my own child, but let me back up and tell you from the beginning.  Monday is not generally a day that I love anyway unless it happens to be a snow day or a day off from work.  Today was difficult because of the time change and the fact that it was beautiful outside, and I wanted to be somewhere else.  All that aside, the last thing you want to hear when you go to pick up your children is “Can I talk to you a minute?”.  I really want to run screaming from the room saying you’ll have to catch me first; however, I restrain myself and paste my fake smile on as I answer “sureee”.

The sentence that came next was not one I want repeated ever again.  It was worse than being cussed out.  The after-care lady said my child was being mean to another student and she used the dreaded word “bully”.  I was furious and embarrassed as she told me another mom approached her and said my child was being mean to her child.  Okay.  Let’s take a deep breath.  I have been dealing with more than my fair share of third grade drama, so let’s look at the whole picture.  I asked her what happened exactly.  She really couldn’t say due to privacy issues.  Okay then.  Can you tell me how exactly my child was being mean?  No, the other mom just said she was.  WTH?  Calm thoughts.  Do I know this mom?  Aha.  The look in her eye.  I know this mom.  I finally figure out on my own, who the child is.  It is NOT someone from her class, but they are in the same before/after program.  Don’t worry readers, that other lady is still gone.

I pull my daughter over and we discuss what happened.  Someone was following her all around and would not leave her alone, so she asked them to stop.  It happened again and she told them she would not be their friend if they didn’t leave her alone.  Hmmm.  And THIS is why a mom used the word “bully”???  I mean, really??  I am caught between being mad at my child and being mad at the parent and after-care worker.  Maybe there is more to this story.  So I take the high road, and say I will speak to her about this and we will fix it.

I am so mad in the car I can’t even look at her.  I don’t even bother to ask her to explain again.  I call her father and say all sorts of things about how we didn’t raise a child to be this way and what happened to our sweet girl who put everyone first, and all manner of things I’m sure ummm, some other parents say.  The word restriction pops out of my mouth and perhaps the word spanking (which does not happen here), and things that will magically fix this.  She is in the back seat listening and yes, I knew that.  I was playing the ole’ scare tactics.

She goes quietly to her room without being told.  I gather the mail and a magazine has just arrived courtesy of my wonderful aunt.  I flip through it and something catches my eye.  How to handle name calling and the blame game.  I read them and calm down.  I ask both my girls to come to the table and tell me what happened.  It still doesn’t sound bad enough to use the word “bully”.  She just went through this and knows what it feels like.  Could she be using her feelings and projecting?  Nahhh.  That’s not her.  A bully is someone who habitually badgers or intimidates smaller or weaker people.  Leave me alone or I won’t be your friend.  Yes, that is mean.  I am not sure what third grader hasn’t said that before, but maybe there are a few who don’t use that phrase.  Does that mean every child who says that is a bully?  No.  We really do need to teach social emotional skills in children; however, we do NOT need to label everyone and everything.  Sometimes a kid is just a kid and they need to work things out on their own.  So I explained the choices she makes and the words she uses will have a lasting effect on her friendships.  I go up to her room again to check on her later and she is crying.  I feel like the worst mom in the world.  Even more so when I knock over a bag of clothes…with a flashlight and wallet inside.  Sigh.  Baby, please tell me what this is?  This isn’t packed for a trip to grandma’s is it?  Nope.

The runaway bag.  Poor thing.  I didn’t realize I was that terrible.  I feel so horrible.  I gather her up and tell her how much I love her and her little voice comes out of the covers and says “I didn’t think you did when you were talking to daddy.”  Poop.  You got me there.  Well, sweetie, mommy was very upset at what happened and I never once said I didn’t love you.  Sure I told daddy you might be on restrictions until someone tells me something good you have done at school, but that didn’t mean I don’t love you.  I will always love you no matter what.  All I have to say is please, pleaseeeeee don’t let me hear anything else about this again for the rest of the year.  I can’t take anymore drama.  And that my friends is how I avoided a tiny fugitive on the run from being accused of a crime that was far more serious than it really appeared at first.

If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle, especially the part that says, “keep away from children.”
~Susan Savannah

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