We had our first taste of bullying this week and it had left me frustrated and angry.
I came home from work on Thursday and asked the boys how school was. C gave his standard answer of “good.” M gave his standard of “okay.” Thursday is M’s library day, though, so I asked about that and whether he had brought home a new book.
“No,” he said, “but we had reading buddies.” M has a great reading buddy named Malcolm. He’s in sixth grade and M generally idolizes him. He loves his time with Malcolm, so I thought he should be happier about this announcement. Prying a little more revealed that it wasn’t Malcolm, but somebody new, a 4th grader. The usual reading buddy is Friday, so this must have been something special.
“Well that sounds nice,” I said, still wondering about his hesitation to talk about it. “Well, it was,” he said, “until they tried to make me kiss Isabella.”
Several iterations of the story had to be told until we understood fully (he was more forthcoming with Mommy than with me), but it went something like this. M and his buddy Declan shared a buddy, “Bobby” we think his name was. Isabella had another buddy, no name, but she wore gummi-bear earrings. At some point in the class, Isabella was in one of the cubicles in the library with her buddy and M and his buddy joined them. A conversation started about the gummi-bear earrings (I believe it centered on whether they were real gummi-bears or not) and M was promised a gummi-bear if Isabella would “tell him something.”
I’m a little unclear on this point. Maybe she was supposed to tell him a secret? At any rate, it quickly turned into both buddies trying to get M to kiss Isabella. When he refused, his buddy started physically pushing him towards her, she got scared, Declan tried pulling “Bobby” off of M, while all this time, the teacher was back in the classroom and the Librarian was nowhere to be found.
M was upset about it. He seemed to think that Isabella was really scared and we were furious.
We brought the boys to school the next morning and let the principal know we needed to speak to her. We laid out what we knew and our shock that this was allowed to happen in school. As K pointed out, parent are forced to undergo a full CORI investigation to even volunteer in the lunchroom, but then our kids are left alone with older kids? The school makes such a big deal of fighting bullying, but then sets up scenarios to allow it to happen? I don’t believe every older kid is waiting to bully a younger or that these two even realized that what they were doing was as bad as it was. But, the damage is done.
The principal promised a full investigation and that she would deal with those involved (assuming that she can figure out who “Bobby” and the gummi-bear girl were). We will (unfortunately) not be told of anything she finds, who is responsible, nor would we know if anything is ever done about it. I understand the need for secrecy (this is a Catholic school after all…) but, we’re left with a 5 year old who is now somewhat scared of his reading buddies and has a stigma about kissing a girl.
I am sure that both will pass, and can only hope that we can leverage this experience, and how it felt, as a lesson against our boys ever thinking to do the same to someone else.