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Strap on Your Helmets, People.

posted Thursday November 5th, 2009

helmet

Time to strap on the helmets.

That’s what I thought this morning as I watched Sophie learning to ride a scooter with her physical therapist. I should probably put one on, too.

I have a feeling I’m pretty much Public Enemy Number 1 at school today. I’m not thrilled with that, but c’est la vie — what bothers me is that real chance that the friend who tipped me off to last week’s bully episode is Public Enemy Number 2. And the one I really worry about is her daughter, who reported the bullying in the first place.

After several angry emails last night from the mother of one of the bullies (the girl we’ve had problems with for several years), I realized why people stay quiet about incidents like this. But I also saw why it’s important to report them.

Yesterday I wrote that a teacher failed to follow the school’s anti-bully policy by not telling the administration or Sophie’s teacher about what happened to Sophie. I was a little startled to see the responses attacking that teacher and (of more concern) teachers in general.

That’s what makes real life — and writing about it — so hard. Because the truth is that yes, not saying anything was wrong. But that doesn’t make that teacher or her colleagues bad people or bad educators. Far from it.

I am in constant awe of the teachers at Annabelle and Sophie’s school. Given the current climate, I can’t believe anyone would agree to teach public school. The pressures are constant and increasing; the pay is embarrassingly low; the expectations are ridiculously high.

I’ve waxed poetic for days about Ms. X, the girls’ kindergarten teacher. But I probably haven’t written enough about Annbaelle’s current teacher. She is a ball of energy — a sweet, caring, devoted, amazing presence in Annabelle’s life. My daugther will do hours of homework for this woman; she’s adopted some of her favorite sayings. I’m thrilled.

Sophie’s current teacher is a wonder. I cannot believe how much love she pours into those kids. It’s showing in Sophie’s school work. As I told the principal yesterday, Sophie is kicking some academic ass. That’s why she needs to be at this school.

But it needs to be a safe place for her, and for other kids.

The principal followed up our conversation yesterday with a note explaining that she intends to talk about procedures for reporting bullying at an upcoming staff meeting with teachers. I think that’s great. But I also hope she considers having a training session for parents. We could use some guidance, as well. After I wrote about what happened to Sophie, other parents told me their kids have been bullied, too. When I mentioned that the principal wants to hear about it, they seemed a little surprised. Only one said she’d already contacted her.

Like I said, after last night’s emails, I can see why. According to the mother I heard from, I am pretty much the most horrible person who’s ever caught a breath. She can’t imagine how I could have such sweet daughters. Hey, I’m with her on that part (that was some humor, people!) but the rest felt — well, it felt like bullying. I didn’t like it. And this morning I worried about how my girls would be treated at school.

We now have volunteers dedicated to watching out for Sophie at every lunch period. I’d rather the school provide a viable solution, but until that happens, Sophie will be safe. I visited at lunch today. Everything seemed cool, if somewhat chaotic. Sophie was happy; so was Annabelle.

Of course, my presence changed the dynamic. I’m sure of that. And I can’t be there at every lunch period. I can’t go to school with my girls and sit next to them at their desks, walk them to the bathroom, stand under the monkey bars to catch them if they fall.

But I can raise hell once in a while if I need to, even if it doesn’t win me any friends. From across the cafeteria today, I saw the teacher who didn’t report the bullying incident. Normally, I’d expect that she’d come over and say hello. She didn’t. I thought about approaching her — not to fight, just to say hi — but frankly, I was chicken.

When it was obvious she was probably ignoring me, I felt like crying. But I didn’t. Instead I strapped my proverbial helmet on a little tighter, and walked Sophie out to the playground.

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Tags: Filed under: first grade by Amysilverman

6 Responses to “Strap on Your Helmets, People.”

  1. Sigh….

  2. Standing up for my kids was so hard to do. It was hard for me to sort out things in my head. I never liked to rock the boat, but I did stand up for them and the more I did it the easier it got. I understand how you wanted to cry when you figured out the teacher in the cafeteria was ignoring you. It made me have a sick feeling in my stomach that I haven’t felt in a long time. Hang in there. I still have to stand up form children. I am 56 years old and my kids are grown. Now it’s a BREEZE because I’ve done it so much. See what you have to look forward to?

  3. That parent had only one valid thing to write: “I’m sorry.” I can not imagine why a rational person in her position could possibly write anything else, much less to be retaliatiory.

    Amy wrote that the emails from a bully’s mother “felt like bullying. I didn’t like it.”

    Our local schools post signs that state something like “violence is hurting another persons feelings or body.”

    By that definition, the mother is a bully. Duh. Of course the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  4. that has to be the cutest scooter riding kid ever…….
    go sophs!

  5. Wow… look at Sophie go!!! Maybe a scooter for Christmas???? She’s adorable!!!!

  6. I’d like to go out riding w/ Sophie and my trikke and her scooter and both our helmets. :)

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