The Golden Rule
Heart broken. That is truly the only way I can describe my feelings over the last few weeks, actually months, of my life. You may recall my earlier posts:
They all relate to an issue we have been dealing with at our children’s elementary school. To make an extremely long story (7 years in the making) short, here are the top lines:
· In Kindergarten we discovered that Alex has anxiety and struggles with adjusting to change
· A few kids in his class began teasing him for crying when he was frustrated back then and have continued their behavior for the last seven years
· Alex can not focus on school or be himself because he must always have his guard up
· The teachers have seen it and do their best to handle it when it arises
· The students have seen it and some have been really amazing in offering Alex support
· The principal spends far too much time investigating various accusations
· We have always believed the teachers and principal were handling these situations in a fair manner and left them to do their job as they saw fit
· The parents of the other children blame Alex for their kids’ poor behaviors.
· These parents have said that if we had told their children how to behave when Alex was upset, they wouldn’t have been mean to him.
· Some of these parents told lies about Alex and spread insane accusations
· Some of these parents made demands on the school and threatened to leave
· None of the parents of the kids picking on Alex are willing to accept any responsibility for their children’s actions
· The school needs tuition to run and is bullied into meeting demands they know are wrong
Once again that brings me back to heart broken. Of course I am devastated that my son has been a target for all these years, but I am also saddened that we have no choice but to leave. This is the school I loved as a child. I was proud to a Tomcat. I was married in this church as were my parents, my children were all baptized here as were many of my siblings. I wanted to give my children the same fantastic memories I had at St. Thomas which is why we made the choice that paying tuition was worth the sacrifice.
I believe no one saw this avalanche coming. Certainly we were blindsided. Here is the gist of what has been happening. These kids will do little things, like moan when Alex ends up on their team and groan and scold him when he messes up, they call him a name or two (often quietly so no adults hear) or take his things and hide them when no one is looking, then when Alex stands up for himself and sometimes stoops to their level, calling them a name or bumping into them as they pass or yelling at them to leave him alone, they tell their parents how horrible Alex is and that he didn’t get in trouble for his actions. These parents take their children’s words at face value and make demands and threats on the school that if Alex isn’t punished they will leave.
A few weeks ago, I finally hit my breaking point. Alex was being accused of starting issues every single day. Some of it, I know he didn’t instigate as there were adult witnesses whose stories matched Alex’s version and his actions were his way of self defense. Some I felt he may have done out of frustration and the general pressure of being on defense all the time. He was starting to act out in class as a result and I realized this was a toxic environment. It wasn’t healthy for him or the other children to continue down this path. We pulled Alex from the class and have finished out the last three weeks of school on-line and at home.
Honestly, Alex is relieved not to have to go back and couldn’t be happier. I was worried he would fight me on the school-work, but he has been really eager to do it and I haven’t heard many complaints. Personally, I have cried too many tears over this mess and the three weeks of home schooling have been exhausting for this full-time working mom but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Since Alex is being accused of bullying, I’d like to know how many bullies would come home from school and ask to never have to go back and then be excited to have the opportunity to finish school virtually. He had to give up seeing his friends every day and missed out on what most would consider end of the year fun events. He has been treated so poorly, he didn’t see any of this as missing out and skipping it all was well worth it for three weeks of peace.
Through this we have definitely seen some people’s true colors, the good, the bad and the ugly.
· I have to say the teachers have been great. I can’t thank them all enough. Almost every one has offered to help Alex on their personal time, even coming to our house or opening the school during evening hours to accommodate our needs. Their support has literally brought tears to my eyes.
· I believe the principal did the best she could. She was caught in the worst situation a principal can be. It is not surprising she has decided to leave as well as several of the teachers.
· Several families have been extremely supportive as well and we are blessed to have them in our lives. I have gone to several school events and put on water-proof mascara because I know their kind words will make me well up every time.
· Some of the children in Alex’s class serve as examples of how to be a friend and live a Christian life through their actions and words and we realize that is not always easy to do at 12 years old.
As for the bad and the ugly, let’s just say – that icky feeling you have, that’s called guilt and you are right, people aren’t looking at you the same.
For us, our ride on the crazy train ends here. We will not be returning in the fall. I do worry for the families remaining.
1. No one is making these boys accountable for their actions so they will continue their poor behavior. Their parents suffer from a serious case of denial. Not only isn’t anyone helping these parents, the school and parish are enabling them.
2. These boys will find a new target. It is just a matter of time if it hasn’t happened already.
3. A school governed by this practice of The Golden Rule is doomed to fail.
Should anyone face something similar, have any questions, need someone to talk to or ask for advice, our door is always open. I hope no one ever has to go through anything like what we have endured but if you do, know you have empathy and support right here. We will do anything we can to help.