We have all heard of them. We have probably all been the victim of one. Today the term took on a completely different meaning for me, and for my special big boy. Today Hayden was bullied beyond the definition of bullying. He was singled out, for gosh knows what reason, and all I can do to stop myself from crying is try and work out the best way to move forward.
Hayden is 7. Seven. He is a bright kid, and tests at a reading level to that twice of his age. He is kind, gentle and can not even hit his siblings when riled let alone another kid. He is beautiful. He is bright. He is kind. When anyone that knows him describes him, the first few words are always kind, funny, smart. I know I am biased. I am his mother. Today I feel as though he has been fundamentally failed, by not just me, but his school.
Today he was at swimming – an event they seem to do last few weeks of term four as a bit of chaff, a filler basically. All was going well. He returned to change back into his uniform when some child, obviously a boy, had taken his and only his, uniform and undies, placed them into the urinal and urinated on them, and then dragged them through the urinal. Not only is this disgusting, it is disturbing. Just so you know, Hayden knows I am writing about this – his thoughts – “it’s ok Mum, it might help other people, and it might mean that some bullies stop”. See what I mean. This kid, amazing.
After he found this, he went out to his teacher. He explained what had happened. She proceeded to hand him a plastic bag and tell him to get them out. He got them out, barehanded, without anything than water to wash his hand. A kind teacher gave him some ‘wash and borrow’ clothes so he could wear something home. At no point was I called. I don’t want to focus on the situation, but rather the flow on effects.
Hayden is left wondering why they singled him out. The kid shares everything, gives up his lunch if someone forgets theirs, and is kind to everyone. He might talk to much in class some days, but he is 7 and he is not ‘naughty’. Hayden is so upset. So much so that he does not want to go to school tomorrow as he is so embarrassed by what happened. We have been talking all afternoon about this. And I have told him so many times how special, wonderful and amazing he is. And how I am so sorry this happened. And how it is not right, and not fair. He is probably more ok about the situation than I am to be honest.
What sticks with me is, bullying is out there. There are always ‘plans’ or methods to keep it at bay, or to try and deter it. But it always lingers, like a bad smell. He has been bullied a few times this year, and it is so confronting the levels of violence and also the words kids use. I doubt I am anywhere near effective enough as a parent trying to explain to Hayden why it happens. He gets that people do it, and he often just tells them to go away. He sticks up for his friends, and usually plays near a teacher if the bigger well known bullies are around. He figures it is part of school. It is just abhorrent. I was bullied at school. And right now, today particularly, I can feel that fear and sadness wash over me. I was picked on for being tall, fat (despite being incredibly fit and playing basketball for QLD) and one of the few fist fights I have ever been in was for sticking up for a friend. I was called all sorts of names and no matter what anyone says, you always remember it. I don’t want Hayden to have to start from this age. Seriously, what do bullies get out of degrading anyone continually?
The psychological warfare that is school is a playground of caustic comments, pushing, punching and verbal slaps is out there, and apparently from grade 2. I would have thought grade 2 was a little too early, but judging from this year, it sadly is not. How do you arm your child for a further 10 years of school and bullying? How can an educational system be so inherently flawed that bullying to this level is accepted?
We have a national RUOK day – but we should *all* do more about bullying. I bet almost everyone has a bullying story. Before they were cool, before they lost 10kg. All of those things. Whatever. It is time to stop! If you are a parent, a sibling, an aunt, an uncle, anyone who knows anyone who is in school – take the time to ask them about their day. Ask about their interactions, and friends. Do they bully other kids? STOP it now – because maybe you can, and maybe you can make a difference! Talk about how their behaviour affects others. Look at their actions. Try and find resolutions, solutions, anything. Talk about it full stop. Right now, I am trying to talk sense about how things like this can happen. And at the same time balance my discussion to be appropriate for a 7 year old.
The mother in me is beyond livid. I am seething. Beyond the ‘how could this happen’ to ‘why did this happen’. I mean really – why? What drives a child to urinate on another childs clothes. Why would anyone think this was ok? Why do people feel the need to behave like this? In workplaces, schools, families, there is always a bully. I cannot fight all of my kids battles for them – all I can do is what I am doing, teaching them to respect everyone, be kind and courteous. I can’t teach them to fight. I can teach them to verbally tell someone to go away. But that all seems so pointless when things like this happen. I feel like I am failing as a mother because I don’t know how to make kids stop doing stuff like this! So again, I implore you all, ask, question and find out about school life for anyone you know. It might help someone who is being bullied or it might even show you that they are bullying. Neither is a nice situation. Having never sat on the bully side of the fence, I can offer no insight into what it is like to bully someone. Having been bullied, and having a son that now is, I can tell you, it is far from pleasant and about a million times worse when it is your child.
Bullying is not cool. Not ever.