I hate that word. It's like it is this buzzword that all kinds of behavior gets attributed to. Even one of the housewives on Bravo claims that the other women were bullying her. I thought of it as just a word until recently, when it really hit home. MY home.
As many of you know, Tommy has been struggling this summer. He has mentioned here and there about kids picking on him and I told him to deal with it, or ask for help at his summer program, also known as BASE.
About 6 weeks ago he started sleeping A LOT. After BASE, on the weekends, in the back of the car, AT BASE, everywhere. Tommy hasn't napped in years, yet he's sleeping 3 hours at a time. We went to the doctor, ran a zillion blood tests, went to the neurologist, no one has a solution. In the meantime he gets an ear infection which makes him feel worse. He misses several days of BASE, indoor skydiving and other fun things, and he doesn't care he is missing it. He'd rather stay home and sleep.
During this process he is still mentioning that he's getting picked on and I'm starting to pay attention. I mention it to the BASE staff, they tell me they haven't noticed anything.
Yesterday I dropped him off and he sat down at one of the tables and it literally broke my heart. I have never seen my son look so sad and dejected in my life. I step into the office to talk to yet another member of the BASE staff and let her know what's going on. I'm not in there 5 minutes and when I walk out, Tommy is in tears. A group of boys immediately started picking on him and being vicious to him. The other staff member said she addressed it and they admitted it and apologized. I. Was. Livid.
Me: Do you boys get some kind of thrill out of picking on Tommy?
Little Bastards: Nooooo
Me: Would you like it if you were treated that way?
LB: Noooooo, shaking their heads
Me: Why do you do it then?
LB: I don't know
Me: Do you think your parents would be proud of the way you treat other people?
Me: Well maybe they need to find out. I'm going to call your parents and tell them how horrible you are.
You should have seen the look on their faces as I walked out. I took Tommy back to the doctor today because after I left him yesterday, he slept in the office for THREE hours. The doctor thinks that the bullying is really having an effect on him, and since no one at BASE would believe him, he is internalizing it and is basically saying screw all of you, I'm going to sleep to escape this crap. We have an appointment with a counselor tomorrow, so hopefully that will be of some help.
This afternoon I marched my ass into the BASE office and had a good talk with the director. As I was waiting for her, she comes around the corner with the Little Bastards. They took one look at me and they knew they were in trouble.
I told her the names of all of the boys who have been tormenting him all summer. Two of Tommy's friends also told me that they have witnessed him being picked on, so she talked to them, and she talked to the perpetrators. She told me it would be taken care of and that she's really upset that Tommy hates the summer program and is miserable. I told her that it's not acceptable for Tommy to ask for help, and he gets told to deal with it himself. How is a 9-year old supposed to deal with a gang of bullies???
She told me that she would be speaking with all of the parents of the boys involved this evening. When I got home there was an email from her to all of the parents about bullying, that they had a big discussion with the kids today about what bullying looks like, and how important it is to talk to a teacher when they see it happening to someone.
She called me tonight and my heart literally broke. Every single boy admitted to it, that they had been doing it all summer, for no reason, and to no one else but Tommy. I can't even type the things they said to him, I won't be able to see through the flood of tears to finish this blog. How can boys be SO mean for no reason? Tommy never did anything to those boys. In fact, two of them don't even go to our school, they were just in the program for the summer. They said they have been mean to him since day one, without even knowing him.
After all of this, I had a long talk with Tommy and told him what happened today and that the boys would be dealt with. The relief that washed over him was transformative. It was like he was a different kid afterward, chattering about this and that, I couldn't believe it. Someone FINALLY believed him and took his side and took a stand to get things fixed. He kept saying "Tomorrow is going to be a good day, right?" I think he's petrified that there will be repercussions from these Little Bastards.
The physical toll this has taken on him, the sleeping, and his nervous tics coming back, it's heartbreaking. When your child says he's getting picked on, it's easy to gloss over...all kids get picked on at some point or other. That it got this bad, and to this point, I am disappointed in myself as a parent. I'm angry at the kids involved, I'm angry that Tommy asked for help at BASE and was ignored...and I'm really mad at the other parents for breeding and creating those Little Bastards.
Please teach your children about bullying. Tell them that's it is never OK to treat another person badly for no reason. Tell them to talk to an adult if someone is picking on them. Make this a regular topic of discussion as bullying takes different forms as our kids get older.
I've held it together most of today, but now, I am going to go have a good, long, cry.