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bullying. mean girls, raising daughters, discipline

Yesterday was the much anticipated parent/teacher meeting with the teacher who doesn’t pay attention about the bully situation. I was ready to lay into this teacher who called my daughter a “bully”. My daughter was a victim of the bully. She would NEVER be mean to another kid. She knows better. Then, I got to the meeting and got blindsighted.

Firstly, my opinion in no way has changed about this teacher. She is an inaccessible teacher and she doesn’t pay attention. She is cold and I just don’t care for her attitude. When I confronted the teacher and asked her why she has never returned any of my emails or phone calls, her answer was, “Oh (smirk) I never check my email or voicemail.” What? This is unacceptable.

But all that being said, when the “bully” situation was brought up. The teacher had the note. Proof. There at the bottom was my 3rd graders handwriting, “Read a good book dood. Bam!What?” It was my daughters writing. I felt sick to my stomach. The rest of the note, repeatedly insulting the little boy, was not my daughter’s handwriting but that last nasty line…it was and that was way more than my tolerance level allows.

The teacher said that my daughter is not known to do these sort of things but she said there was one other instance where my daughter told a boy in her group to, “Stay focused, get back to their group and do some work.” He was in her group and she said she always ends up doing all the work and she was frustrated. I understand this because I was the kid who always got stuck doing the “group” work. I don’t consider that being a bully, do you? I consider that being bossy. Still not her place but let’s not confuse it with bullying. Bullying is repeated with the intent to harm and hurt.

But this instance of telling the little boy to “Read a good book dood.” Was obviously rude and could be hurtful especially when the teacher told my daughter, “Some kids don’t have the same gifts as you do, so you can’t say things like that because maybe they are not capable of doing that.” By the way, there is nothing wrong with the little boy, in case you were wondering, other than maybe he isn’t as advanced in some subjects as my daughter is but that is completely normal at this age.

Bottom line is this, we do not tolerate bullying in any form, even the slightest because it can have a lasting and damaging effect on the child on the receiving end. My daughters have both been on the receiving end. So, my daughter is grounded for a month. No television, no electronics, no play dates and no birthday parties and she had to write an apology to her father and I for not coming forth in her part in the letter and she had to write an apology to the little boy who she told to “Read a good book dood! Bam. What?” that included writing 5 nice things about him. She is also no longer allowed to communicate with the girl who wrote the note and gave it to the boy in the first place. That kid is bad news. She used to bully my daughter in the first grade.

I am very disappointed in my daughter for writing anything on this note, I am disappointed in the teacher who does not respond to parents and sushed my daughter when she tried to bring her the note in the first place before she decided to add to it.  I am disappointed in myself for parenting my child in a way that made her think it was okay to say something mean to another child, without considering the consequences or effect it may have on the other child. She knows now. We had a very long discussion on not saying negative things to people. I explained that I understand having negative feelings about someone or not liking them and you are entitled to your own opinion but you cannot say these things out loud if it hurts another person. Keep it to yourself.

What would you have done? I wanted her to remember this punishment as a consequence of being mean so she never does it again. What do you consider being a bully?

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passing notes, bullying, teacher not paying attention, raising girls

I don’t usually complain about my kid’s school. In fact, I mostly love their school. If you have children in a parochial school you already know this but kids who attend parochial just seem to consider consequences of actions more than the average kid. Our children’s education is based on a foundation of charity, family and faith. Kindness, compassion and respect for others is reinforced in the classroom from the beginning. I’m thrilled to see the lessons we teach at home being reinforced at school. These are good kids. This is why I work to pay tuition. For us it is worth it. So you can imagine my shock and dismay when I hear of a child behaving in a way counterintuitive to everything they are taught. What’s worse is when the teacher ignores or misses it.

What’s not worth it is to expect all this and then realize that this year, you got the teacher who is not invested and never accessible unless you pop into the classroom and even then there is a very good chance then that you’ll be cutoff midsentence and asked to leave. True story. I am used to teachers who, if call or email about my child, respond. I am used to teachers who pay attention to what is going on in the classroom and handle it.

For the past 3 years, my oldest has been victim to some bullying and every year, I contacted the teacher and he or she handled it. We worked together and it all ended up fine without too much emotional scarring but it took all parties involved to be invested. This year, one of her previous bullies is in her class again. It’s a very uncomfortable situation.

Yesterday at pick up, my 8-year old got in the car and immediately started telling me about her day at school and then started crying telling me that her teacher thought she was bullying a little boy and she swears she didn’t do it. When she tried to explain, the teacher called her a bully. You see the same little mean girl who bullied her in 1st grade is in my daughter’s class again this year and this time she has a new victim, a little boy in the classroom who sits next to my daughter. The little girl wrote a note of insults about the boy and put 4 girl’s names next to them. Girls she also doesn’t like. Then she showed the little boy. Then she gave it to my daughter. My daughter knows that we have a zero bullying tolerance. She told the girl to erase her name and when the girl wouldn’t, my daughter went to the teacher, only to be shushed and told to sit down. A few minutes later the little girl threw the paper at my daughter and the teacher saw it mid-flight and assumed the girls were passing notes and when she saw what the note said she moved the girls apart and then told all five girls (the child who wrote all of it and the other 4 girls names who she had put on the sheet (as far as I am concerned victims too) that she will be bringing up the “bullying” incident at Friday’s parent teacher conferences.

Now this all comes after a week of my trying to get in contact with the teacher via email about the Halloween party I’m organizing, with NO ANSWER to any of my emails. This also comes after she almost made my child wet her pants because she wouldn’t allow her to use the restroom (I have since told my child that if she needs to go..go and I will deal with the consequences rather than her piss her pants and deal with the ridicule). My daughter is 8, I think she knows if she really has to piss. So this teacher has been, in my opinion, half-assing a lot of things this year.

I have a couple problems with the whole “bullying” incident because 1) if the teacher would have taken a second to just listen to my daughter when she tried to give her the note in the first place and not shushed her maybe the little boy would never had gotten the chance to see it and she would have known who was doing what. 2) If she paid attention to my daughter in class at all, she would know that doing something like this is not in her nature especially since she has been bullied herself. 3) When I called her to discuss the incident (5 minutes after pick up) she was gone and never called me back this morning. I think if you are going to be throwing around the word “bullying” and label my child you should at least answer the phone message of a concerned parent who wants to know what’s going on because if my daughter is not the perpetrator she shouldn’t be labeled and punished and if she is then she should be punished by her father and I.

She swears she never said the things written on the note after a long and thorough discussion, I believe her. I still told her that she needs to apologize to the little boy; to which she said she already had when he first saw it. My husband has told her to show a little extra kindness to the child who was insulted because he’s probably feeling pretty down. I just want to get to the bottom of all of this so we can take the proper steps to stop this kind of shit from happening to our children. If I were that little boy’s mom, I’d be livid. Things like this can stick with you forever.

I need your advice. As a parent, what would you do?

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Aledo, Tim Buchanan, bullying, football, Texas

Bullying is real and I hate it, probably more than most people but the word bullying is getting thrown around with no weight and it’s pissing me off. This week the Aledo Texas high school coach Tim Buchanan benched his starters after only 21 plays, kept to a conservative ground game and even allowed the clock to run uninterrupted after halftime to show mercy to the winded Western Hills High School. Still, his Bearcats won 91-0; a complete blowout but not a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the undefeated Aledo High School Football team. Football is serious business in Texas. I thought everyone knew that. Now, Coach Buchanan is facing formal accusations of bullying from a parent of the opposing team! Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Apparently, this Western Hills High School dad doesn’t understand the concept of bullying. Sure, losing is hard to swallow; a shutout even harder but that’s life. We don’t always win. Somebody has to lose if someone else wins. Isn’t that part of the allure of winning; to be the best not the same as everyone else? We’ve coddled our children for so long with non-competitive games and hug it out losses that when someone actually has to lose and it doesn’t feel good, all of the sudden people are throwing tantrums; parents and children alike.

In the complaint, the dad argues that the Aledo coaching staff should have taken steps to end the game quickly and spare the feelings of the Western Hills players. Huh? What’s going to happen to these children when they go into the harsh real world where no one gives a damn about your “feelings”. This father thinks the coach bullied his team by letting his players continue to play. The Western Hills dad said that Aledo wasn’t easing up. They were not. Referees and coaches from both teams agree that Coach Buchanan took steps to contain the score; he played his third string players on the field more than the starters, allowed the clock to run when it normally stopped and was not playing his players tot heir optimum ability. He showed mercy. Should he have just stopped the game and walked off the field because they felt sorry for the losing team? Wouldn’t that have been more insulting? Do we want to teach our children that they can’t do their best or be proud of their accomplishments because someone else’s feelings might get hurt? No!

I understand being upset that you lost and believe me I can imagine that being the losing team in a blowout is embarrassing and not necessarily a boost for your ego but when you’re in the real world, you don’t get ahead and succeed in life by people feeling sorry for you and giving you an easy out. You succeed in life by working hard and keeping at it. When you win you graciously celebrate and when you lose you do that graciously to because nobody respects a sore loser or a cocky winner. We need to let our kids lose once in awhile to appreciate the wins and to learn that they will bounce back. Losing isn’t the end of the world; no matter how shitty it may make you feel at the time.

But accusing a coach for bullying because his team won even after he did all he could to not widen the gap, with the exception of telling his team to throw the game, is straight throwing a tantrum.  According to Robyn Silverman on GMA, here is what constitutes bullying:

  • An aggressive attack; be it physical, emotional or social.
  • An uneven balance of power; for example older/younger or bigger/smaller.
  • Consistent; done more than once over a prolonged period of time.
  • Deliberate; done with the intention to hurt or harm.

These criteria need to be met to use the term bullying. Stop throwing it around every time you don’t like the outcome of a situation. There are plenty of children who are suffering from real bullying; the kind that scars you and makes you feel alone and alienated with no where to turn. Losing a football game is not one of those situations.

Parents, be an example to your children. If they lose teach them to do it graciously and with resilience. Let them know it will all be all right. If they win, teach them to do it with grace and compassion. Don’t teach them to place blame and be sore losers. And please stop throwing around the word bullying to describe every time you don’t like what someone else is doing.

Do you think this was bullying?



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bullying, shane kocyzan

A friend posted a link to Shane Koyczan’s To This Day Project video (above) about bullying. I don’t usually click on videos. I should have been doing so many other things. It’s the end of the month. I have deadlines. But, for some reason, I watched this video. I found myself sobbing by the end of it. It stirred something in me and forced me to face a truth about my childhood that I have tried desperately to forget. I’m not in denial but I don’t let it define me. I don’t give the past that much power over my present. I try to forget but it’s there, right beneath the surface, always with me. We all have these things pushed way, way down from our past. We push them down so that we can survive them and move past them.

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