Saturday, May 26, 2012

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:
·      I Wear a 7.5
·      Mysterious Ways
And even
·      My Child Would Never

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.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it's great you're getting your son the help he's obviously needed for a very long time. Funny to me though that you're spending so much time putting blame on others and making accusations that you only know to be your truth and may not at all be accurate. I do believe you are doing exactly what you accuse others of doing. It's very sad that you spend your time trashing other families when you have no idea what personal or family trauma they may be going through. I would just hope now that you've gotten it all out, your focus would be on helping your family and not trying to hurt other families. Hope things will be much better now with a fresh start!

Mindy said...

Sarah, I truly hope you don't encounter parents (cowards) like you did at St. Thomas in Alex's new school. You know, like the ones that leave ignorant comments and don't identify themselves.
Thankfully Alex is a fantastic kid that will bounce back from all of this.

Sarah said...

Thanks Mindy and no worries if they want to post a comment on my blog they are more than welcome too. They have done so much worse to Alex already, it only confirms my point of view. And yes anonymous, I feel great to get this off my chest, tell everyone the truth, my truth, the truth that so many others share. My only regret is that I stayed silent for so many years.

Sandy said...

Sarah, sounds like anonymous has a quilty conscience.....maybe they should be the ones who get their child the help that THEY seriously need and start to recognize that before it is TOO late for that poor child!

Sandy

Jessica said...

Sarah, I'm so sorry you are going through this! Ironically, I left St. Thomas all those years ago because of bullying. Both by students & teachers. It was the worst year of my life and it was hell on our whole family!
I know you and Pete will do everything in your power to give your child peace. You guys are great parents and we're all in this thing trying to do our best! I'll be thinking of you guys!

lebeauleblog said...

I haved known Alex his whole life. He's an exceptionally sweet kid. Sorry to anonymous and anyone else who was involved, but some truths are not subjective. You guys made things up about a sweet little boy and persecuted him systematically over the course of several years. The school and the church didn't hold you accountable for your actions. But if you pay attention to the teachings of the church, you will be held accountable for what you have done. You might want to start doing some acts of contrition.

Mindy said...

Anonymous - I certainly wouldn't want you to feel like you're being picked on because I wouldn't want anyone to feel what Alex has felt over the years, but I heard this song this morning and thought you could benefit from hearing the words.

She stood out in the crowd
Was a little too loud
But that's why we love her
She's not like other girls
She could've conquered the world
Until you broke her
Down...

Are you happy now?
That she's on the ground
And do you realize the words you say
Make bruises that don't fade away
Are you happy now?
That you've brought her down
And she's thinking that she won't fit in
Cuz you said something's wrong with her
Are you happy now?

He liked science not sports
He knew what he stood for
He's not like you, you don't like that
15 years down the road, he could be everything you won't
But right now you're breaking him
Down...

Are you happy now?
That he's on the ground
And do you realize the words you say
Make bruises that don't fade away
Are you happy now?
That you've brought him down
And he's thinking that he won't fit in
Cuz you said something's wrong with him
Are you happy now?

I've heard that it was done to you
Is that why you do what you do
Well that's no excuse, no

And if it felt hell to you
Then why'd you wanna put them through
What hurt you

Are you happy now?
That you've brought them down
I, I don't think so

Are you happy now
That they're on the ground
And do you realize the words you say
Make bruises that don't fade away
Are you happy now?
That you've brought them down
And they're thinking that they won't fit in
Cuz you said something's wrong with them
Are you happy now?

Are you happy now?
Are you happy now?

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I am a mother same as you only trying to protect my child. Whether directly involved or not, the entire class has been affected. I spoke up because this involves kids and I feel it is wrong to trash kids on a public forum like this when they have no way of possibly defending themselves because they are in fact, just kids. Just another way of trying to protect my child by not putting my name out here also with the fact that we have never met. So as I was posting only to you, unfortunately it ends up with people attacking me and worse, my child! No one has the right to say such hurtful things about any child especially one they don't know. It makes me so sick and is just so wrong! These kids, including Alex, have gone through enough. It's not even that these posts are made to support you but instead used to say hateful things......I guess the point I was trying to make. Sarah, I would be more than happy to speak to only you, but this is not the place.

Sarah said...

I have a blog where I write about my family, my struggles as a parent and my life. I have been respectful of your privacy and not identified you by name here or to anyone that has asked me. In all this, I do not blame your son for his actions or the other boys. I do however blame the three sets of parents who ignore the facts, attack other families and lie. I feel every family at St. Thomas has the right to know what has been going on, why I am not mother's club president next year, what was a contributing factor to many faculty and the principal leaving, and what could happen to them if you decide they or their children are in the wrong. I have been nothing but honest and I have nothing to hide. I will continue to pray for you and the other families involved. Your actions have been seriously misguided and clearly you don't even understand the damage you have caused. We don't see eye to eye and never will. I actually listened to the other adults involved and accepted their feedback as well as those of the entire class. You want the truth, go ask to see it. There are pages and pages of truth. I pray it opens your eyes.

Anonymous said...

My child is in the class, however not directly involved. Why can't we just admit that harm was initiated and continued on BOTH sides of the story (by kids and parents) and move on from this mess?This is definitely not a one sided issue, and it seems that it's being portrayed that way. Kids at this age aren't always nice. Adults aren't always nice. It is our job as parents and teachers to guide our children in making the right choices. It's also our job to build resiliency. If we're not teaching them to be resilient when things don't go their way, we're setting them up to fail. Enough of the rescuing and defending on both sides. Let's all just pick up the pieces and move on.