B is for bully

Took me a while to write this post without being so emotional about it...

One thing I've learned as I age is that I will not know everything. In fact, I am at peace of not knowing much most of the times given that I'm a worrier, and for those worriers out there, you know what I mean by that. Over the course of this past year, I've eliminated a lot of things that can cause me to worry - cable TV (now, I pick and choose what my family and I will watch), the need to please (I make it an effort to know my limitations daily so I won't fall back into this bad habit), debbie downers and bernie bummers (this is a daily chore too... it's hard to spot them sometimes). So yeah, you could say that I make a tremendous effort to not know things/situations/people that will just affect me negatively.

But there's also a few things I do know and I must say, I do know how/what to do well. One of the best things I know is how to love, protect and care for my child. In every thing I do, that's the first thing I consider. It's like second nature already. I don't have to think about it-- I just do. So, for the longest time, I thought I knew everything there is to know about how to love, protect, care for Mai... that is, until she started going to school.

When Mai started school, in my head, I knew some facts:

1. I will lose some control over my child as other people will have influence on her then on.

2. I will not be there all the time with her; thus, I will not know what happens to her/ how she will react to certain things and situations.

3. I will have to know more than what I currently know about how to teach my child confidence, safety, sharing, caring, loving, personal space, problem solving, etc.

See, I knew all these facts, but NOTHING ever prepared me when the "B" word invaded our lives.

Mai first encountered a bully the second day after she started. This boy, in a Buzz Lightyear jacket, allegedly ran after her to push her in the playground. She told me this incident the moment I picked her up, so my initial reaction was to find that child and give him a piece of my mind. But of course, the teacher stopped me from doing so, and after I told the teacher about it, she said that she didn't see what transpired and it's supposed to be my daughter's responsibility to tell her if things like this happen. Initially, I was taken aback from her response. I mean, how can a 4-year old know that in her second day of school? Needless to say, I was MAD! But after talking to the Asst. Principal, and after she explained to me their rules of discipline*, I saw the point and accepted responsibility of what I should teach my daughter when this happens again.

The second time Mai encountered a bully was just before the Fall Semester started. A girl in her class apparently pushed one time, but constantly tells her you're fired! in the playground (She initially said that the girl called her a bad word and after much probing, I found out that it was just Donald Trump's infamous line). Now, it took her a longer time to tell me about this incident, maybe because of how I reacted the first time. I know I embarrassed her by storming to find the boy, so this time I did tread lightly. After she cried about it, I gave her some time to just process it-- talked about her feelings, think about her non-response, etc. In the end, she told me that this is something she can handle and I shouldn't do anything about it. So, as hard as it was for me, I trusted her judgment and didn't get involved. After a few days, I asked her about the girl again and she said that although they don't play together, she doesn't bother her that much anymore. And after a few more stories from her over the course of a few more weeks, I kind of found out that this little girl is just plain unruly at times... "that's just her" as Mai would say. I still do ask about her from time to time, and Mai now says that they're ok.

But this last time that she's encountered a bully was what I think was the most serious thus far because she seemed so scared when she shared it to me first of all, and she seriously asked me to intervene this time. Basically, the run down goes like this: this boy in her class, who sits in front of her, always bothers her, but from what she initially shared with me, it's nothing that really affected her. Usually, she'll tell me a story about how he's bothering her but she follows it up by saying "he's being a boy, mom!" But last week, while practicing for their Christmas program, this boy slapped her on her thigh and pinched her cheeks so hard that it cracked her skin. What bothered me most is when I asked her about the ouchie on her cheek, she looked bewildered first and said that she may have gotten it when she fell of the monkey bars. I knew right then that there was something wrong because she fell off the monkey bars so many times already and not one incident left her with a scratch that deep. Secondly, she looked almost scared when I asked her about it. Call it a mother's intuition, but I knew that she was hiding something.So that evening, after a good meal and a hot shower, I asked her again what happened. This time, she just burst into tears and told me the entire story. I felt sick to my stomach that she tried to cover it up, so I asked her why she didn't tell me before when I asked her at school, she said she was afraid in between sobs(I thought, yeah, I'd be afraid of me too in this circumstance) So, I asked her why she didn't tell her teacher about it. Same response, she was afraid! I asked her why would she be afraid of her teacher when she won't get mad like mommy would. That's when she said that she's not afraid of me nor her teacher... she was afraid of the boy! Gosh, I had to hug her so she wouldn't see hot tears of anger, disappointment in myself, and frustration coming out of my eyes. So, after a good hour of just hugging and crying with each other, I assured her that I will handle this and I will not embarrass her. That seemed to be enough assurance for her as she went on to sleep after that.

Okay, at this point, I want to say that everything is handled.... that is, until the teacher or principal gives us an update about what they did to resolve the issue (*as they don't want to involve parents this early on in the resolution of the problems... yeah, go figure!) and assurance that this WILL NOT happen again. I will keep you posted on that-- In the meantime, I am still in quandary about what transpired. I am left frustrated, confused and still a bit angry. Not angry about the process of the school's resolution or even the kid for that matter... anger because the thing that I thought I knew best to do, which is protecting my daughter, was not done. She was hurt... And that devastates me! I hate this feeling of not knowing what to do. Should I pull her out of that school and pick another school where communication between parents and teachers are better? Maybe? Should I hash and rehash this, use this incident to make a statement to help better the communication between school and parents in this school? Maybe? Should I just shut-up and accept that the school knows what it's doing? Maybe? Should I just be still and subject this all to God and hope that He will tell me what to do next? Maybe...The last one sounds the most feasible right now, but for any parent, it is so hard to be still when you know you gotta do something! At this point, I have no clue what to do next. And it sucks that I don't have my motherly instincts tell me what to do next. I know I gotta do something... that something just escapes me at the moment.

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