Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Okay, Here's The Scoop

I yanked my son out of school.

If you remember, there's a child in Diminutive One's class who has been tormenting him all year.

There's one every year. Every. Goddamned. Year.

Diminutive One is different. Quirky. Unuuuuuusual. He doesn't have the same skills as other kids when it comes to social intercourse. He doesn't read social cues very well and he doesn't understand or acknowledge common social constructs such as pecking order, cliquism, and dog eat dog mentality.

In some ways, that's a good thing. He doesn't follow blindly and he doesn't kiss ass. He is not easily influenced to do things he wouldn't otherwise do. In other words, he is definitely his own person.

When he's older, I think these traits will be extremely advantageous.

But now, it simply makes him a target. He might as well walk around wearing a bullseye sandwich board.

And I don't know how to fix that.

So every year, there is some kid that zeroes in on his vulnerabilities and then exploits them to the fullest.

We've been dealing with one kid in particular all year long, with no real resolution. Nobody seems to be taking it seriously.

In fact, I learned at one point, that Diminutive One's desk was placed in a group with this child! First of all, I don't understand the group seating thing at all (I know AA, but I still don't get it). And secondly, why in the world would the teacher place my son in a small group in close proximity to a child that has made sport out tormenting him all year long??

Does that make sense to any of you???

My request that he be moved was honored without much fuss, but there was a definite sense of being placated.

Now, though he is sensitive, Diminutive One is very stoic. He doesn't want people to know he's upset, or angry, or hurt. He does not wear his heart on his sleeve.

He would rather stand in a room full of his peers naked, than have anyone see him cry.

Needless to say, it can sometimes be difficult to guage his emotional status.

So I thought after the last go-round, in which I expressed my dissatisfaction with the way things were being handled between the two, things had gotten better. He hasn't said much about the kid recently, except to complain that he wouldn't particpate in the class musical and was ruining everything by refusing to sing. Typical, but nothing that set off alarm bells for me.

Last week however, those alarm bells were ringing loud and clear. Deafeningly so.

In the car after a disappointing baseball game, I was haranguing him about giving up. They were losing badly, and at one point in the game, he simply stopped participating. I was yammering on and on about how that's not fair to his team and he can't let them down like that, and yada, yada yada....

And right there in the van, on a dark and winding road, my son had a complete emotional breakdown.

"I TRY MOM! I TRY AND I TRY AND I TRY AND IT DOESN'T MATTER! EVERYONE SHITS ON ME. EVERYONE HATES ME. NO MATTER WHAT I DO, EVERYONE THINKS I'M STUPID AND WORTHLESS!

He sobbed until he was hyperventilating and dry heaving. He railed and he ranted. He pounded the window with his fists and he stomped his feet on the floor.

And all I could do was drive.

I was stunned. All this over a baseball game? I thought. But of course, it was more than baseball.

When we got home, I dried his tears and held him until he calmed down.

"So, there's more going on than losing a baseball game. Talk to me."

He was done yelling, but I was less concerned when he was angry. The complete and utter defeat in his eyes and his slumped shoulders sent tendrils of fear down my spine and curled into my belly.

He mumbled, "I just can't take it anymore. I just can't. Every goddamned day I have to listen to his bullshit. It never ends."

Right then and there I decided that he would not return to school until somebody fucking DID something.

People..if you could have seen the relief in my son's eyes when I told him he would be staying home until I could figure out a way to fix this...you would have wept.

I did.

I wept all night long. I tossed and I turned, thinking about all the terrible things that could happen if I fuck this up; if I can't make it right for him. This is why children commit suicide. This is why they bring guns to school and shoot people. This is why they kill small animals or start fires.

Because nobody listens, and nobody takes their torment seriously.

But you know what? It's not a rite of passage. It's not a harmless little game of one upmanship. It's not boys will be boys.

It's abuse, pure and simple. If an adult treated another adult that way, would we be so blythe? No. We would not.

And I'll be goddamned if I'll find my kid hanging at the end of a rope.

So the next day, I took him to the movies. On a weekday, at 11:00 am. We had slurpees and popcorn and we put our feet up on the seats in front of us because we were the only ones in the theatre.

It was completely decandant and he was thrilled to bits by the sheer wickedness of what we were doing.

I was worried, to be honest. I've tangled with the truant officer before.

But the smile on his face and the bounce in his step assured me that I was doing the right thing.

That was almost a week ago, and he's still home. It's a long, story, and not pretty.

Tomorrow I'll give you "Okay, Here's The Scoop; Part II" alternatively titled, "Why Cobb County Sucks And Don't For a Minute Think They Actually Give A Shit About Your Child".

Footnote: I had qualms about sharing this with my readers. It's his business, afterall, not mine. And I'm not sure if I were in his shoes, that I would want my business being trumpeted over the internets by my Mom. BUT...

This is an important issue. If you read the link above, you know that elementary children ARE killing themselves. And if I can help someone by sharing our experience, then it's worth it.

34 Comments:

  • At 1:35 PM, Blogger Amanda said…

    Trying to type thru tears isn't easy, but let me assure you... you've done the right thing.

    You DO have a choice... HOMESCHOOL him. It's not as hard as you think and honestly its pretty darn easy... You have a smart child. That's obvious.

    Most states even allow kids to use their school books... and I've just learned about a program called K12... that isn't homeschooling... it's PUBLIC SCHOOL at HOME. Its a computer based curriculum that your child uses at home and they still have teachers, etc. If you want, I can give you some information I've found.

    HUGS and CONGRATS on doing what is RIGHT FOR YOUR SON!!!!

     
  • At 1:36 PM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    I really admire your fierce advocacy for your son. My girls are older than my friends' kids, so I really benefit from reading your blog, and seeing how you walk these minefields. Thank you for sharing it, and I know your sons will love knowing just how much you love them and the lengths to which you'd go for them, if they ever read these entries.

     
  • At 1:39 PM, Blogger IIDLYYCKMA said…

    I think you have done a wonderful thing -- I am really proud of you and I am proud of your son for sharing with you what's really going on.

    Please let us know how we can support you.

     
  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    I weep for you, D.O., and all the children being tormented day, after day, after day.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

     
  • At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Maddy said…

    Mine does not express himself quite as well but the message comes through loud and clear nonetheless. Fortunately our school and school district do care and more importantly, act. Sadly I have no helpful answers or advice butI think I would have acted similarly if I was up against a brick wall.
    Best wishes

     
  • At 3:05 PM, Blogger Suzannah said…

    You must continue to be fierce and trust your instincts! I think what you're doing is absolutely right. Make them fix it before he goes back. One of my son's classmates hung himself a couple of weeks ago, at TWELVE YEARS OLD. Keep us posted. My heart goes out to the both of you.

     
  • At 3:11 PM, Blogger ShortyMom said…

    I don't understand how a school can just not act on a situation. I have seen first hand how my kids school responds to situations that should not have happened, but we also live a half hour from where one of the first major school shootings occured. Because of that, they tend to listen a little closer than they used to.

    I applaud you for pulling your son out of a tough situation regardless of consequences (i.e. truancy). Something has got to get the attention of someone there.

     
  • At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Christina B said…

    You are a wonderful mother who is willing to jump through hoops to help your children, and not all parents are willing to do that.

    My brother was tormented throughout school, and to this day no one understands what it was about him that made him a target. No matter how many complaints were filed, or how many times my parents went up there, nothing was ever done. They were told my brother was taking it personally, and that kids will be kids. He too, attended a deep south public school, one that seemed to not give a shit about anything anyone did to him. My parents eventually placed my brother in a homeschool program and he excelled. He is graduating this May, a year earlier than he would have in public school.

    So please know, that you are doing the right thing for you son, and if you don't stand up for him, no one else will.

     
  • At 4:32 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    I thank you for sharing... and again living experiences and helping me know what options I have a couple years before I potentially get there.
    I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. My heart is breaking for D.O. It's agonizing to see your son in such pain.
    I hope you are able to find a solution and soon...
    Hang in there, Mama.

     
  • At 6:08 PM, Blogger Bea said…

    Thank you so much for writing about this. This is my biggest fear - the bullying and the possible (worst) outcome. I will be eagerly awaiting your next installment.

     
  • At 7:07 PM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    oh, god. this is so raw.

    like bea, this is my concern as z gets older. we cannot protect him as he gets older, and i fear the other kids will take advantage of his vulnerability.

    so thank you for sharing

     
  • At 7:26 PM, Blogger Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy said…

    I seriously want to bitch-slap everyone in that stupid school district. These are people who are supposed to be focused on the WELL BEING OF THE CHILD????

    I don't usually go this route, but I would be tempted to consult with a lawyer - it certainly sounds like your son's rights are being stomped all over.

    He is so lucky to have a mom like you - keep fighting for him.

     
  • At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm so sorry it got to this point and for how much he has been through. No matter what you end up doing - good luck.

     
  • At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I feel for you and your son. As a public school educator, I have seen how kids can torture one another, and I do not tolerate it. I wish your district would have done the same.
    However, I do hope that you find another school for your son to attend. I feel that educating a child should be left to trained professionals. Hopefully, in a place that will not tolerate the treatment your son endured.
    While I am sure that parents who home school feel that they are doing what is best for their children, educating a child is something that an untrained person should take on. It is why we attend years of schooling to do what we do.
    Your son, while dealing with social issues, will have to learn to function in a social setting. Keeping him from school will not provide him the crucial training/practice in dealing with people (peers). I know it is difficult, but there ARE schools, teachers, and administrators who will embrace your son...and protect him.
    Seek out a new school.

     
  • At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I regret the typo...I meant to say, "educating a child is something that an untrained person should NOT take on."

     
  • At 8:07 PM, Blogger Mac and Cheese said…

    Everyone has assured you that you are doing the right thing, and although I have no experience to speak from, it seems to me that this is the best course of action. I thank you for posting this as it is invaluable for the rest of us who can only learn from your experience in this.

     
  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Pgoodness said…

    Good for you! I am inspired by your sheer strength and desire to do right by your son, especially when no one else will! (bunch of crap, btw!)

    Thanks for sharing it.

     
  • At 9:21 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    I'm so sorry you have to face this. thanks for sharing it though. I think we can all learn from your experience.

     
  • At 9:43 PM, Blogger Sori said…

    Good for you! Do you know any of the other teachers at that grade level? I think the first demand would be to switch his class. It may not be regular proceedure, but I've seen it done in our school for a bullying situation. Stand your ground.

     
  • At 10:33 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    BA, you are one of the smartest women I know. And DO might do really well with homeschooling. You might, too! I know it's a season in your lives, but if you can spare him this season, imagine your joy as he participates in local groups outside school or goes off to college and really finds his niche. Because he will find his niche. He will. I am thinking of you often.

     
  • At 11:13 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    I totally agree with everyone that you did what was best for your son, and I applaud you for that. I think it was absolutely the right decision.

    Having said that, have you ever had him tested for Asperger's Syndrome? It's on the extremely high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, and several things you've mentioned are hallmarks of the disorder. One thing is that Asperger's kids are usually exceptionally bright. However, they are unable to read social cues. Other's facial expressions, body language, and other social things that most of us pick up automatically just seem to be beyond their understanding. They also sometimes have a hyper-interest in one particular subject.

    However, with therapy, they can be taught to recognize those social cues. Now, that being said? BULLIES SUCK. Just because a kid is different does not give anyone the right to pick on, harass, or bother him in any way. I'm disappointed in that school. They suck too. Perhaps you should look into a charter school? They are still public schools, but tend to be more specialized. Some of them are awful, but some are wonderful.

    Good luck to you and D.O...I know whatever you do, you will always be fighting for him, and that is the most important thing. He will always know that you are in his corner.

     
  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    are there private schools around that he can get a scholarship for? Homeschool?

    wtf is up with that other kid?

     
  • At 11:46 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Shelley,

    Yes, his therapist has suggested Asperger's as a diagnosis, and we are exploring it. He definitely has some characteristics, but others don't fit him at all. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I'll admit that it answers a lot of the questions about why he is the way he is. We will be pursuing further evaluation.

    To those who have suggested homeschool....you have no idea how many times I have searched my soul about this issue. Next year is middle school, and things will only get worse.

    There are many pros and cons, but what it boils right down to is...I think I would suck at it. Big time.

    Honestly, I think I would do him more harm than good. I don't have the patience for him and 24 hours of us together in the same space is just bad, bad news.

    But with this latest problem, I find myself entertaining the idea once again. We'll see.

    Thanks to EVERYONe for all the supportive comments and advice.

     
  • At 12:18 AM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    Funny. We were talking about this at lunch today. I said that if I had kids, I would never have sent them to school. My co-workers all argued that kids need to go to school to get "toughened up" i.e., abused by other kids.

    Feh. Who needs it? I always learned a lot more out of school than I did in it. I was a curious kid, read a lot, made up science experiments, etc. School is overrated IMO esp for bright kids.

     
  • At 4:05 AM, Blogger margalit said…

    GOOD FOR YOU! And the truant officer can go bite himself if he has a problem. You march yourself down to the superintendent's office with an official letter saying you are pulling your kid out of school to homeschool as of (date) and you make sure that you get a TIME STAMPED COPY returned back to you so they can't lie and said they weren't informed. If the truant officer comes aknocking, just show him the timestamped letter and that you are homeschooling.

    Get yourself onto wrightslaw.com immediately and look up all the rules for Georgia and homeschooling. Always stay one step a head of them. And do it.

    Make sure you say that you have pulled your child due to constant bullying that was never addressed despite your many complaints. Anything you can back up in writing, do so. Even if you just have "notes" and dates of conversations with the moron teacher and principal. Back it all up.

    Then, if you want him back in school in the fall, INSIST on a school change. You refuse to send your son to a school where he has suffered from abuse. Document that with a letter to the editor or even write an op-ed piece about bullying in your particular school. Make sure they don't want you back so you can bargain much more easily with the big guys on getting an out of district transfer.

    Meanwhile, I'm hoping that you're working on all that stuff we discussed privately, so you will have a distinct record and can hit them up for Private School that specializes in that sort of stuff.

    Email me and we'll start the affront immediately. Nothing says "don't fuck with me" better than a really prepared and full of documents mom. :-)

     
  • At 7:03 AM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    You are awesome. Truly.

    Good for you, BA. Good for you.

     
  • At 7:13 AM, Blogger Becca said…

    B.A., I am so touched by this post. I was one of those kids with a bullseye on my back. The few friends I had in middle school were in the same boat. One of my good friends killed himself in seventh grade as a result of the torments by our peers.

    There wasn't the same awareness of that sort of thing back then. Thank god there is now, so that fierce moms like you will DO SOMETHING. Not just brush it off as a normal part of growing up.

    You rock. I am so impressed that you have the guts and the foresight to stick up for your son in the face of a non-responsive school system.

     
  • At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Apryl's Antics said…

    I applaud you. I, too, am frustrated and my oldest is only in the second grade.

    I never realized before having kids that one of the biggest things "they" don't warn you about is how the rest of the world will affect your kids and ultimately you. No one told me how difficult it would be to invite strangers and their opinions into my life once my kids started school.

    Seriously. GOOD FOR YOU! You will discover what is right for DO because you are the only one who really knows him.

     
  • At 8:36 AM, Blogger Kiy said…

    Tears are coursing, for both of you. I honestly feel you did *exactly* what needed to be done. Without.A.Doubt.

    I was where your son is, and no one heard me. 40 years ago, no one did diddly about things like this. One would think schools would have figured this out by now. My entire middle and senior high experience was a living hell, I couldn't wait to get out. Sad that I wished my childhood away. The minute I graduated - I got OUT. Left the state and never returned except to visit the folks.

    My situation, and one's like your son's, is exactly why I am so darned hesitant to put our little gal into public (or even private) school. I am not a huge fan of homeschooling (for myself, I know it works wonderfully for others) but I have toyed, seriously, with the idea. Your story, your son's story, makes me want to look even closer at the idea.

    I applaud you. You ARE doing what's right for your son. Good for you, great for him.

    Kiy

     
  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger jess said…

    Good for you.

     
  • At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Apryl's Antics said…

    I saw this and was reminded of you. It's just under 4 minutes, but worth it:
    http://www.flixxy.com/cougar-vs-bear.htm

     
  • At 2:10 PM, Blogger Kimberly said…

    Standing up for your kid.

    No matter what.

    (I suppose if a kid was a criminal, standing up for him would mean seeing that he sucked it up and did his time, not excusing it away, but we aren't talking about that, so....)

    That is the lesson that I am taking.

    Stand up for your kid.

    'Cause no one else will.

     
  • At 8:16 PM, Blogger JessicaLee said…

    I don't even have kids, and I was shaking out of anger while I was reading your story. You absolutely did the right thing. You're a good Mom. And you're damn right, no kid of yours will be swinging by a rope. If only every mother cared this much.

     
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