I’m talking current events today. Well, current events from last week. But still! I am culturally relevant a little bit!
There was a time during this past school year where I suspected one of my children was being bullied. Let me try to describe to you exactly where on the rage chart that put me: somewhere between “why didn’t you figure out your order before you got to the front of the line,” and the injustice of the Holocaust.
I have a large capacity for rage.
Luckily, it turned out that my child wasn’t being bullied and I could put the jack back in the trunk, but it made me understand how helpless and angry parents feel when their children are being hurt by another child. It’s hard to talk to the teacher without wondering if you’re overprotective, it’s hard to talk to the other parent without worrying that you’re insane, and you can’t talk to the other child because that’s usually frowned on. By the law.
So when I read this article about a fourth grade student who is being sued for bullying one of his classmates, I initially thought, “YES! Git ‘im, Pa!” Then I thought, “Wait. Hold on a second, Pa. Isn’t he nine?”
The victim’s parents are suing the nine-year-old bully, his parents, the school district, and the school principal, for $50,000. I’m not much into suing people, but I can see the reasoning behind naming the parents and the school in the suit. But the kid? That’s where you lose me. In fact, their attorney says that if they win the lawsuit they might be able to garnish the future wages of the fourth-grade defendant. Yeah. That’s right. All of that kid’s earnings from McDonald’s would go straight into this other kid’s piggy bank. And that kid is going to buy hundreds of cupcakes. And then he’s going to sit in front of the first kid’s house and eat them all. Slowly.
All in all, the victim’s parents haven’t been doing him a whole lot of favors, here, including releasing his name and photo to the press. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but let me tell you what isn’t going to help this boy – putting his picture on the news and telling everyone the details of his humiliations.
Here’s what I think helps: conversations with other parents that begin with “Ha ha ha I know that science project was nuts right so anyway about your boy Manson…I mean…Mason.” I believe in sideways stares at the offending child, stares that say, “I know what you’re doing you little f***er, and the only reason you’re getting away with this is that I value my freedom.”
But more than anything, I believe in fighting battles for our kids without making them front line casualties. I believe in not bringing a child into adult arguments and grievances. I believe in treating children as children and parents like the responsible, adult guardians they are supposed to be. That means holding them accountable separately, and preferably, privately.