The hardest thing to do, as a parent, is to let your kid go out into the world on her own, even if it’s just to third grade. Dad and I may talk a tough game about loving that you guys are getting bigger, but if we’re honest, it’s pretty scary.
But not as scary as some girl in your class telling you she’s going to bring an ax to school and “cut off your head” because she didn’t like you telling her she has to contribute to the group social studies project!
Joanna Schroder wrote a touching missive to her son for The Good Men Project about how her son got new glasses and how one of his classmates called him a “nerd.” I wish I could reassure Joanna that it gets better, that kids chill out and by high-school they are more focused on their own little realities and their raging hormones, but that just isn’t true. Bullied girls in school and bullied boys, even though heartbreaking, is something that seems to be getting worse and not getting better. Even adults bully each other.
It just hurts a lot more when it’s your own kid running home from the bus stop, tears streaking their tiny little faces as they explain to you that one of the girls in their class wouldn’t let them play “The Games Where We All Pretend To Be Puppies” during recess, or that they suggest to her that she isn’t cool because she can’t sing along to a Taylor Swift song. As a parent, it breaks your heart.
My own kid came home Monday and complained of a headache and wonky stomach. She seemed okay for the rest of the evening but sometime during the middle of the night I felt her and her army of stuffed chickens and kittens crawl into bed with us. The next morning she said she wasn’t feeling well, and after the bus pulled away she broke down in tears and confessed she was scared to go to school because of the “ax-incident.” She explained that she didn’t bring it up the night before because she wasn’t worried, but then when it was time to go to school she had second thoughts that maybe this kid was actually planning this. I called her school, spoke to the school counselor, and the next day my daughter and the little girl who made the threat had a meeting with him. It’s been handled, my daughter is fine, back on the bus and back to class. She has had issues with this same kid before, pinching and shoving, being told she is “ugly” and a “loser.”
Welcome to elementary school.
I know this kid wasn’t really going to haul an ax to school in her backpack and decapitate my daughter, but it sure sounds scary when coming from the mouth of an 8-year-old choking back tears. Just as hurtful as being called a “nerd” or “ugly” does. I don’t remember kinds being this nasty when I was growing up, but I’m sure they were. I was picked on for being much taller than everyone else and having a mouth full of braces. I just don’t remember anyone telling me they were going to chop off my head.
I wish we could gather all the sweet kids, my V and Joanna’s Izz and a lot of the other kind-hearted ones and stick them on a “Happy, Nice Kid” island where they could all go to class together and not deal with the jerks of the world, but I guess this is sort of preparing them for the jerks of the grown-up world.
It’s just a lot harder for the little guys to deal with because they can’t have bourbon.
So sorry V, I got off track in my love letter to you, telling you to buck up and how amazingly wonderful and perfect you are to us. But you are. And in this world I’m sorry for all the jerks and creeps and bullies you will deal with, and all I can really do is teach you how to stick up for yourself and when to tell a grownup and when to just realize that some people are just jerks. And as I promised you before you left for school today, I’m never, ever going to let anyone chop off your head.