I got a call from my kids' school right while I was in a meeting, which at the exact time my boss was also looking for me. I saw two missed calls, both are important. As a working mom, who do I call first?
That day is like any other day.
I called back the school while typing on my Whatsapp, messaging my boss while waiting for the School Reception to pick up. Finally someone answered but couldn't tell me who tried to call me as it's the main switchboard. She said "don't worry, for sure they'll call back". I know they will, they always do.
Unfortunately when they did, I was in an impromptu meeting. I found out from hubby that it was School Management trying to call and it's because our oldest boy, Alex is suspended for two days over a fight.
Mother's normal reaction would have been panic and anger. Mine was total calm, I was curious but definitely collected. Alex has a history of being pick on ever since a little one and sometimes, he reaches a point of "too much" and he fights back.
I am not condoning violence but I cannot fault him for defending himself.
There was an incident before when Alex put two kids to the clinic. They were the same kids who's been kicking his back while he's walking doing his thing, calling him names. When the school called and told me about it and told me to tell my son not to resort to violence, I out-rightly replied, "he has been telling school authorities about these bullies but somehow nobody is taking action, should I blame him for having had enough?"
Before the incident happen, Alex talked to me. After so many discussion on what he should do to inform authorities, in the end I was left with this to say, "okay Alex, you did everything you can to let them know. This has been months. If the same bullies try to hurt you, do what you have to do to defend yourself. If you do, make sure it sends a message to the others". He did.
After the incident, I had a chat with Alex to tell him that "now that you've proven what you can do, let's go back to informing authorities".
As a parent, I am in such dilemma. When he was growing up, we were very keen in instilling in him "no to violence". Always telling him to watch his temper. Never hurt a girl. Never start a fight. If he is in the middle of an argument, walk away because his dad said, "if I find out you hit someone or go into a fight, you will be in big trouble".
Then came school, his Tourette ticks, his short attention span when he was young, his height (he used to be the smallest one) all contributing to him being targeted by bullies.
I wouldn't say he's anything special, the bullies target anyone within reach. Alex is probably 1 out of the other targeted ones in the whole building. As a parent, should I tell him to forget what we thought him and just hit back when someone hits him or should he continue walking away and keep him vulnerable?
I still say keep peace and stay away from where the bullies hang out but obviously, if push comes to shove and he is on a spot, "defend yourself". We have one strict rule, he must never start the fight, or else, it means big trouble. If we find out that he started the fight, he will not see neither I nor his dad meeting school authorities. He is on his own to sort his shit out.
He is now 13 years old and so far the basic rule is still in place. So when I get calls like that, I have a series of standard questions, "Who started it? Where did you get hit? Are you hurt? Can you handle the pain or is it serious and should I be worried? Where did you hit back? Is it worth the disciplinary office trip? Do you think you did that right thing?
For some who are curious what was the last issue, it was his classmate who keeps on cursing at him in Tagalog (my kids don't speak Tagalog but they are aware of the bad words, thanks to their other Filipino classmates for the lesson). I believe it was somewhere along the neighbourhood of FU or SOB kinda of curse, I did not explore, I am on denial that my boy actually knows the meaning of these words.
Alex was not in the mood for it so he retorted and called the boy a horrible name. Alex, unfortunately cross the line with his retort. It is an unacceptable word, anywhere in the world. So the boy naturally went livid, punch him in the head, Alex hit back and also managed to throw a chair at his classmate's head.
By the time I reach him on the phone, they have already made up, back to friends but did not get away from their corresponding rewards of 2-days suspension.
The joys of parenting!
"Bullied Kids Should Hit Back, According to US experts"