Sunday, September 01, 2013

Countdown--Tick, Tick, Tick

I took a picture of Snowdoll
every day Rob was in KY.
Monday, she lay on the deck.
Sunday, Rob was off to Kentucky.  First, he headed to Frankfort to see his mother, brother, his brother’s family (including our niece, of course).   Second, he was off to Owensboro to see his father, uncle, friends, and to pick up some mutton and burgoo from Old Hickory.  I was still not 100% well when he left.  I knew this when I was making his lunch and broke out in a cold sweat.  This is never a good thing when one’s been ill and I wasn’t surprised when later, a couple of hours after Rob had said goodbye, my fever was pushing up into the 99s.  Still, it didn’t get as bad as it had been. 

Monday, I managed to take Snowdoll for a walk.  For a full mile even.  I skipped my morning yoga because the walk was more important.  And it was a slow one.  A slow one but Snowdoll still bounded and bounced along as she always does.  Rob and I talked in the morning and sent texts.  Here’s one exchange we had, after we’d bickered back and forth a bit:
Rob:  And your point is?
Me:  None.  I’m pointless.
Rob:  Oh no.  You have points. . . Sharp points.
Me:  Then this conversation is pointless.  A pointed comment if ever there was one.
Rob:  I’m sure there’s a point or two there
Me:  Perhaps
Towards the end of the day, Erin emailed me about Bibi, saying Bibi didn’t want to take the bus anymore because a girl and her brother were bullying her.  I could feel the anger in my face, the heat of my rage, as I tried to formulate a reply that did not reduce itself to “Get on the bus and kick some ass!” 

Tuesday, Snowdoll lay on the deck.
Bibi had told Erin about this before and Erin wisely told Bibi to tell the bus driver, to ask to sit somewhere else.  So when Bibi came to Erin a second time, saying it was ongoing and she no longer wanted to take the bus, Erin’s immediate inclination was to start walking her home from school.  You see, they drive Bibi to school so she’s only on the bus on her way home.  But I’d just read a book on bullying and another on children and anxiety so I knew that removing her from the situation may not be the most empowering choice for Bibi.  Easiest, yes.

Thankfully, it’s obviously not the only choice and Erin was seeking out my advice.  I fired off some advice but I knew I was writing in anger and I did speak with Rob to make sure he agreed with me before reinforcing my advice in a second, and much calmer, email.  In a nutshell, my advice was to:
1)      Write the bus driver a note saying that Bibi is no longer allowed to sit beside (insert girl’s name here) and (insert her older brother’s name here) because the three of them are not getting along and you are concerned that things may escalate if they are not separated sooner rather than when it’s too late.  Scan a copy of the dated and signed letter.
2)      Bring the letter to the teacher.  Kindergarteners can’t be trusted to remember that they have something for the bus driver at the end of the school day but a teacher can and will remember, especially when she is told what the letter contains and why it has been written.  So have the teacher read the letter and explain the situation, then seal it and ask her to deliver it to the bus driver that day.
3)      Go to the principal’s office (or make an appointment to see him) and explain to him what is happening.  If this older boy has a history of bullying, it will have been documented.  If not, you want to begin a paper trail.  Present to him the date when Bibi first came to them about this, when she says she spoke with the bus driver, when it happened again, when she spoke with the driver a second time, and what she says the bus driver said. 
Snowdoll was missing Rob
so she lay on the deck.
All of this, of course, must be carefully framed in “Bibi said” rather than “the child did” and “Bibi claims” rather than “the bus driver didn’t” so as not to come across as too confrontational and accusatory.  But such behavior cannot and should not be tolerated.  And it’s only the first week and half of school at this point.  If this is how the year is starting, one can only imagine how much worse it would get if nothing were done to nip this in the bud out of the gate.

I think Bibi is strong enough to resolve things for herself but in this case it’s a girl in her class and the girl’s older brother and all three sit in the same seat so Bibi’s outnumbered and, because there’s an older child involved, out-sized as well.  Two against one, especially when one of the two is older, is not fair.  All we can do now is hope being assertive in addressing this situation will not invite more abuse.   We’ve all heard horror stories where parents and children sought help and this merely back-fired.  I’d like to believe that these incidents are exceptions and that we’re all learning how to deal with bullying better now that we are no longer buying into the whole “boys will be boys” nonsense.

And so it turned out.  The very next day, Bibi sat in a new seat and, even when the boy tried to sit with her, the driver made sure that she was not sitting with the girl or her brother let alone both of them.

There was more excitement, the first half of the week, but let's leave that for another blog post.  Poor Snowdoll, as you can see from the photos, was a busy girl, trying to hold it together while "Daddy" was out of town.  But he wouldn't be back for a few more days.  More stories to come.  Stay tuned.

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