“Mommy, Elijah called me a baby today. So did Kaleigh. They were being mean to me, and I didn’t like it.”
I knew this day would come. I knew it would happen, I knew I couldn’t stop it, and I didn’t prepare myself for the gut-wrenching pain I felt upon hearing those words. My child, my precious Tiny Tot, was being bullied at school by children he once called friends.
His words didn’t come as a surprise. Several instances have occurred within the preschool, and I have been made aware of each occurrence. Tiny’s teacher pulled me to the side, and told me how much she praises Tiny’s abilities, politeness, and eagerness to complete school work. She told me that she has told the other children that they should “learn to be just like Tiny.”
Not to mention, I probably lay on the goodbye hugs a bit too thick for his age group. Don’t judge; I gave birth to tiny human, and I consider him to be a miracle.
Approaching the conversation with care, I asked, “What did you do, in response?”
“I told them not to call me a baby, because it wasn’t nice.”
“Good job, Son Son. Did you also tell the teacher?”
“No, I forgot.”
Tiny has been taught several bullying strategies throughout his five years on this planet. I have drilled each one into his head, because I had them drilled into me by my mother. Because, as Tiny’s mother, I have a secret–and it’s not that big of a surprise–I was a nerd.
I also grew into an even larger nerd, with a slightly better sense of style. Okay, my sisters dressed me. That’s the only reason I have any form of style.
In my youth, I devoured books. I read from morning to night, and then hid under my covers with a flashlight to read The Hardy Boys, or Nancy Drew. I barely studied, because I had too much reading to achieve. It irritated my mother to no end. She would sit with my twin at night, studying flashcards, and I would bury my nose into a book. Occasionally, peeking up from my reading, I would peer over the cover of my novel to answer whatever question my mother had posed to my twin.
It drove my mother nuts.
She also confessed to me that she felt like a horrible mother, because she would ground me from books. Having plenty of years to laugh over that fact, I’ve decided that was the only way I would have done my homework.
My books followed me everywhere. I always had a book in my backpack, or purse. When we were told to open up our textbooks, I would. And then I would spend the remainder of the class reading my book under my desk.
How else was a girl to read?
From my nerdiness in youth, I gained thick skin. You cannot read as much as I did without being picked on. It was my mother who taught me how to use my voice, and ignore rude people. I still do that, to this day.
… And then I write about them.
My child, however, has a fun-loving, people-pleasing side. He was born to play, not read. I’ve watched him stand back at a park, watching the children, looking for the perfect playmate, and deliberating how to get a specific child to play with him. He then decides he has a new best friend for the duration of park time. I’ve watched him analyze strategies to befriend other children, even if it meant luring them to him with a toy.
My kid has a unique gift, one that I used to have, when I wasn’t reading. He has the ability to “friend” anybody. He has a brilliant smile, and warm heart. He has always been the teacher’s pet. He has always been the most-loved kid in class. So, even though I knew bullying would happen, I thought he was too happy of a kid for it to affect him.
But, my child also has a highly introspective side to him, much like his momma. This school situation has affected him. These were friends, children that he played with every day. Children that he still has to interact with–and they are calling him a baby to diminish his worth. They have been calling him a baby for over a month now. I stopped it once, when the teacher wasn’t doing her part, by telling the little girl to speak to others with kindness.
No, I didn’t feel bad for admonishing a child who was tormenting my son.
I’ve taught my child to respect other people, play nice, and act polite. I have told him that he needs to tell these types of kids that he won’t play with them if they’re being rude. I have taught him to tell a teacher when instances like this occur. And, finally, I explained the value of ignoring rude children.
Other than that? I have to speak with the teachers, and make them aware of the situation, if they aren’t already. I have to push for my child to continue to feel safe in his school environment, so that he can continue to be a bright, happy, and learning.
What I refuse, what I won’t do, is to make my son, my Tiny Tot, feel like he has to change himself to make those children like him. He shouldn’t have to change himself for anyone, ever. He can be the smartest kid in class. He can ace his tests. He can bring home straight A’s every grading period. His talent, abilities, and intelligence came from his genetic makeup–and his awesome, nerdy mom, and I expect him to be–and achieve–his best.
I grew thick skin in my nerdy youth, and my son will have to grow the same throughout his lifetime. Luckily, he has this chick for a mom, and I will remain firmly rooted in his corner. I have been, and will always be, his cheerleader at life. There won’t be any doubt that I will encourage him to reach for the moon, and pull back the stars.