Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Parenting Dilemma: harmless flirting or more?

I've decided that parenting is really difficult. There isn't a clear cut answer to anything and it's so hard to know if you are making the right decision about situations or if you are totally screwing up and making a larger problem for yourself down the line. The longer I am a parent, the more I am convinced that newborns, infants and toddlers is hands down, the easiest phases of parenting. Though you are exhausted, you have far more crying for no reason, and you are ankle deep in urine and poop, it really is so easy.

Though nobody wants to hear that when they are in the thick of it.

Now that I have two school aged children, it's so hard to not jump in with every situation and save my kid. Matt and I have tried very hard to raise kind children, mindful of others, respectful to all, and just good little citizens. I, stupidly, assumed that all parents had that goal in mind. As it turns out, that's actually not true. I am finding more and more that people's perception of kind, mindful, and respectful are not at all what I think they are. And that is now passed down to little kids and it's not the parents dealing with it, it's the rest of us. Also working in an elementary school is kind of an eye opener. Kids are manipulative little punks sometimes and they know when to be good and when it doesn't apparently matter. I think if parents knew how their kids really are at school, they would be quite surprised. I don't think teachers always know it either, true personalities come out during those moment when a staff isn't watching, in the passing in the hallways, in the conversations among kids.

While some parents who have children who are bullied or facing issues at school are quick to blame a teacher, Principal, or school staff- it isn't that easy. It is virtually impossible to keep an eye on 18 children at once. It just is. Things get by you, you're busy helping kids learn and things happen. Just like when your own children fight at home and you don't witness everything leading up to it, you can't just take one child's word. I get it. Quite frankly, in this age of everyone being quick to label a behavior as bullying, I don't know why anyone would want to be a teacher.

But that's for another day.

The current issue we are dealing with is with my daughter Olivia. She's nine and in third grade. The thing about Olivia is she is very much a rule follower. She expects all kids to follow the rules all of the time because that's what you are supposed to do. It's really hard to raise her all of these years to be that rule follower, to respect adults and that "diva" behavior isn't cute nor tolerated. (Which is another post, being a "diva"? That's not cute. That's not something to strive for and it drives me nuts when parents refer to their children this way.) But now that Olivia is in school, she comes home some days and is so angry that some kid got away with something and the injustice of it is upsetting. Now I get to explain to her that it's actually best to worry about you, keep your head down, and try not to make a scene because kids will feed on that and make your life hell.

How completely confusing for a kid.

Olivia has a boy in her class, who has been with her pretty much since 4K, who isn't... popular. This is also terrible, but you can watch kids interact with other kids and already tell which clique they'll end up in high school. And I hate that.


Olivia has no interest in this boy. She said he makes her uncomfortable. He doesn't behave well and she gets angry because he doesn't do his homework and that results in them all getting lectured. Recently, she's confided in me that he has taken to calling her "cutie" or saying she's "hot". I told her while annoying, she can still tell him that it's flattering, but she would like him to not continue saying these things because it makes her uncomfortable. She did that. He's continued. I told her the next step is to talk to her teacher privately and not tattle, but ask for advice on what she should do. Maybe even use counselor time to do the same.

Tonight we had a family fun night at the YMCA and she chose to go swimming. She said he showed up, with his family, and she avoided him and stuck with her friends. Eventually though, he made his way to her and proceeded to grab her legs under way and pull her to him. She said she got scared and tried to call for Matt, but because there were so many people there, Matt didn't hear her. Eventually she went to the boy's mom who apparently was closer, and said she wanted him to stop.

The mom? Well the mom laughed and thought it was cute.

Olivia said she called out to a friend who kind of helped her get away or at least got him to go away, but Olivia said she found Matt and told him she wanted to get out of the pool, much to Jackson's chagrin. Which is why they quit swimming so early, which I thought was weird.

I talked to her before bed and she said it was scary and she kept telling him to stop and he wouldn't. I told her she needs to try to stay away from him and certainly, if anything happens at school, she 100% has to say something. Even if she has to yell at him to stop, I would absolutely back her up if she got into trouble.

My first instinct is that boys who have crushes on girls can act like little jerks and hell, even grown men act the same way sometimes. That this is all really harmless, even if it is annoying. But then I think, even if it is harmless in his eyes, does the fact she feels uncomfortable trump that? We teach women that it's never OK to let a man treat you in a manner that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, but it's OK if you're a kid? At what point does that change?

I'm at a loss if I should be doing more. Maybe I'm doing it right and guiding her to handle it on her own? I feel like bare minimum, I have to encourage her to talk about these things to me because I'm sure we have even worse coming our way as she grows up. I want her to not be scared to tell me things.

So what would you do? Weigh in!


Unknown said...

As with much of my advice/suggestions, you know I'm no Mom so I may be way off base. But as I was reading this, I actually cringed. I felt scared for her. He's a child, I get it. And the fact that the other Mom laughed it off. I'd be pissed. I would even include the principal, teachers and counselors and tell them that this is serious and obviously this child needs help. I'd be so pissed I'd find out where they lived and I would go to their house and demand to speak with the Mother/parents about this.

I remember in elementary school, a boy who "liked" me actually punched me in the chest on the bus. But his Mom said he was 'just playing'. My Mom went to the superintendent and made a big deal about it (rightfully so, but it was embarrassing at the time) and they made the kid apologize to me in front of our whole class. It was effective, because he never had a kind word to say to me after that (this happened in 2nd or 3rd grade). Back then I was angry that I had an enemy but now I could give two shits less. I'm glad my Mom made a big deal about it and I hope that taught HIM how to not be an ass.

This is one of the main reasons I'm terrified of having children. I know I'll raise mine right, but I hate other people's kids. And I hate those shit kids parents. And I'm pretty sure I'd be in jail for assault on those parents if something like what happened to Olivia happened to my kids.

thotlady said...

You are doing the right thing in telling her to stay away from him.

She needs to keep telling him to "leave me alone" loudly and as often as she needs to.

I might talk to the teacher and ask her to keep an eye on the situation, just to make her more aware.

Ruth said...

I think the school needs to be made aware of what is going on. If you have to, fill out an anti-bullying/anti-harassment form. It is harassment if she asks him to stop and he refuses. My daughter got picked on and no one ever did anything. We had to threaten the school and fill out forms and keep track of every time something happened. I do understand about how many kids there are, but I have also been around enough to know a lot of schools tend to pretend none of that goes on in their school.

Unknown said...

I had to deal with this as the "big sister" b/c honestly my in-laws just ignored this crap. I told my sil, she was 11, that no one had a right to touch her. she got to choose who she would let into her circle personal space. If a boy touched her she should tell the teacher immediately.
Eventually she ended up kicking a guy twice her size in the nuts b/c he kept trying to grab her ass. But NO means NO at any age. No one gets a pass b/c of their age on this subject.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher I would be horrified if something like this was happening with my students and I had no idea about it. Also, only 18 in the class? Oh my god. That would be heaven. I have 28 first graders and you can bet your ass I do everything in my power to get to know them and can tell when one of them is upset about something or having an off day. And still, when something slips past me and a parent makes me aware of it, you know I will get down to the bottom of things and do everything in my power to make it right. That's just common sense. And modeling appropriate behavior. And holding the kids to high expectations. And maintaining a safe classroom environment so kids can learn and grow. Did I mention common sense?

As a parent I would be furious. You work so hard to teach your children to be caring, productive citizens and for someone else to laugh at your child's reaction to impropriety makes me stabby. No one has the right to be dismissive with your child's feelings. EVER. I could play devil's advocate and say maybe this lady was just embarrassed that someone was accusing her kid of being rapey and trying to make light of things to avoid confrontation but COME ON. Put on your big girl panties and be a fucking parent! Teach your child that this is not okay and make damn sure it doesn't happen again. It's not cute or funny. Not in kindergarten, not in third grade, not in middle school, not in high school, not ever.

Don't let this one go. Talk to the teacher about it and request a meeting with this parent and the principal so that you can all be clear about what's happening and that it won't be tolerated. Make sure it gets documented. Not in a threatening or confrontational way, just a recording of the facts and any decisions/outcomes from the meeting. The child has to be taught to respect personal boundaries. If the parent's not going to do it at home, you have to enlist the help of the school.