Sunday, September 1, 2013
Bean and the Bully
So there is/was a bully on Bean's bus. He didn't tell me for a few days. One night at bedtime, we were snuggling up and he'd already shown me his latest and greatest Lego creations so I started asking him questions about his day, his life, and his interests. During previous bedtime talks, I had asked him how school was, and he raved about it. I knew from other talks that there had been a couple kids at school who had said something about his Hello Kitty backpack, but it had been a single happening and not a big deal - I had this seconded by the teachers. He was happy, secure, and confident.
This particular night, I asked how the bus was going, rather than about school. And he said there was a girl who kept bothering him about his backpack. He said he'd ignored her, but she just kept bothering him. That's the word he used - "bother." Almost in the same breath, he told me "also, the bus is really loud in the morning. It's so loud that it makes the thoughts go out of the my head."
We talked at length about what was going on. Bean was not the only kid being bothered. I told him "she is probably feeling unhappy or out of control, and making people sad makes her feel better. Like powerful or something." He grinned and said "well, she doesn't have any power over me because I wasn't sad!"
He was purely annoyed, which wasn't a reaction I had expected...but it was perfect. He wasn't upset, but he didn't want it to continue. He showed concern for the other kid being bullied - who did cry. And then he started thinking of ways we should address it. At first he wanted his dad to get on the bus and talk to her, but I explained that was probably too confrontational and would likely make things worse.
We talked about going to the teachers, and that he could do that immediately or he could wait and see if it continued. I offered to talk to his teachers, but he wanted to do it by himself after waiting a few more days. A few days later, the girl was apparently under a seat on the bus hitting another kid's feet and ended up hitting her own head and crying. Bean said he tried to make sure she was ok. (And I decided I needed to talk to the teacher to be sure the little girl was safe.)
These small incidents seem so huge when I think about my 5-year-old navigating all this new territory largely by himself. But I am so glad I let him go out there feeling confident in his own choices as well as prepared for those who question his taste. If I'd sent him with a boring backpack, I wouldn't have gotten to see his compassion, his independence, or just how solid his confidence is! Or I may have even undermined that confidence - if I won't even let him pick out a backpack, what choices can he make?