Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bully Intervention....the countdown begins...

In this life, I’m unsure of a lot of things. One thing I am sure of however – is that I won’t be able to find the right words to tell you the strength your words have given me in regards to this bully situation.

Being social inept and anxious pretty much defines me as a non-fighter. A non-stand-up-for-myself kind of girl. A door mat – yours free to walk on. And after you’ve stepped all over me – I’ve been known to even say “thank you”. I am an avoid-conflict-at-all-costs woman. I’ll say I’m sorry when it’s not my fault and I’ll stay up all night worried about how you feel – never once giving a thought to my migraine-inflicted, hive covered, ugly-crying face and body.

That being said…this instance? Well, this instance is about my child.

And I can honestly say that up until this point as a mother, I have never had to verbally fight for my child much less fight for her with a Superintendent, a teacher and a counselor in the room.

While I’m dreading it and can’t focus on anything else…part of me wants to see what my body does in fight mode – for my child. And no, I’m not walking in defensive or ready for a fight. I just mean I know that my job is to protect my daughter and stick to the facts and demand a solution if necessary.

I can admit I’m scared though. I know that after our meeting, the administrators cannot come down hard on “Rose” and only Rose. That would backfire on my daughter. And the truth is that Rose is a clever bully and gets others to do her bullying for her so some others could use a refresher course in right and wrong as well.

For example, last week she told every boy in class she’d pay them each $10 to say mean things to my daughter and another girl. The boys came over and told them what Rose had asked them to do and proceeded to say mean things to get their money. Sooo clearly – the boys aren’t exactly following the no bully rule either.

And Rose is a subtle bully. The teacher asked each child to make a Valentine for each student in the class and they were to write something nice about the person on them. Rose wrote on my daughter’s: “Thank you for being nice. Sometimes.” Now yes – that’s not so bad – but really? You had to add the “sometimes” in there – to get a dig.

On days when Watermelon has come home crying, I have called other mothers to see what their child said happened. And nearly word for word – the stories are the same so it’s pretty clear my daughter and the other kids aren’t lying when they all tell the same story even when separated.

I told my daughter that we’re going to work on a solution and that we will work together until it’s solved.

Watermelon is nervous. Rose saw Rambo ask the teacher for a conference and stopped and said to my daughter: “Why is your dad talking to the teacher? I though we settled this and we were going to let it slide?” Watermelon said, “I never agreed to that and he asks how my day goes and I tell him.” Rose said, “Well I hope I don’t get in trouble.”

And last night Rose had detention for her attitude in class and her disruptions. I do feel badly for her. She has no one to teach her what it means to be a friend or be nice.

The other school counselor verbally told me all the teachers have noticed that lately Rose has become more disruptive, meaner and unruly when I expressed concern about a week ago. The solution was for the counselor to have lunch with all the girls once a week. It didn’t work.


I want you all to know that while you may think your blog commenting is sometimes only words and that sometimes when you feel helpless because we are too far away from each other – you’re wrong. I went home and sat down with Rambo and repeated everything you guys said like: We’re going to stay calm. We’re not going in on the defensive. We have to ask them to help us find a solution. They want to help us. Etc Etc.

I told him stories you guys told me. I told him my heart broke to hear so many of you had bullying examples from your own childhoods. I told him we have to over-emphasize our love for Watermelon. Tell her she’s talented and amazing and give her the self-confidence it takes to know whatever any bully says is false.

I even told Watermelon your stories.

I felt your strength and I heard your encouragement and I’m taking your advice. And before it even goes down – I’m saying thank you. Your level of caring is inspiring and not taken for granted and I hope to return the favor some day.

I can be a stronger mother for Watermelon today…..because of you….and I want you to know that I realize that’s no small thing.

Stay tuned for an update on the intervention


Joanna said...

You are doing the right thing!! After reading my comment yesterday, I realized that I sounded..urm..well, not very supportive.

I can offer this advice: find your school handbook, find the part that spills the no-bullying rule and the consequences (it's in there), ask them what consequences are going to be used.

Make sure you mention Rose's threat of retaliation "I better not get into trouble". She knows exactly what she's doing - and that it's wrong. You need to make sure that they know it - and what they plan on doing to make sure that nothing comes back on your daughter.

Don't feel bad for dropping names of other parents that have had the same issues. Sometimes it takes more than one complaint.

Don't fall for "we'll talk to Rose about it". They won't. They'll tell Rose that they have been told that she's not being nice. They'll tell her that if she continues, she will be punished - which will only fuel her fire to find other ways to bully without getting caught.

Ask them what happens if the behavior continues. Make sure you use phrases like "how do I explain to my daughter that she can't be homeschooled?" "Why should my daughter, who is a good student, suffer and dislike coming to school?" and my favorite "to what extent will you allow my daughter - and other children - be tormented until you actually do something?"

Bullying holds punishment of suspension and expulsion - regardless of how bad her homelife is, I doubt the parents will be happy with having to have Rose home with them.

Good luck!!

Pam Griffis said...

Good luck! Just remember. You and Rambo will be speaking for your daughter but all of us are there with you. Maybe if this doesn't work out like you hope today, we can all come for a visit and schedule another conference. LOL

But seriously, you got this. One thing that has helped me is to figure out what a solution looks like. You won't be able to dictate to them how things are "fixed" but if you are able ti visualize the end result that might help in your discussions for a plan. And I wouldn't hesistate to tell the adults that your family fears retaliation. I am sure they will be prepared for that though. Hopefully, this will end a GREAT DAY for your family. In the end, express to your daughter that you will always support her and love her through anything that comes at her, forever.

Hugs from Houston!

Southern Belle said...

ok, so you totally almost made me cry with this one. You will handle this the best way you can, with love. Watermelon will know it and so will the adminstrators, you will work this out. Praying for you, strength, calm and clarity.

Shannon said...

o your are so great! we are all here for each other, it is awesome that we can come together when a friend is in need. Big Hugs! I'm glad you guys got the advice you needed. :D

Barbara said...

Draz, you ARE doing the right thing. This is your child who is in crucial developmental years and is depending on you for love, nuturing and protection.
Does your superintendant live under a rock? all you have to do is flip on the tv or pick up a newspaper to see the consequence of bullying. And NO you dont want that headline. So intervene, make it clear, that this WILL stop. Rose or no rose, the school has a responsibility to bring this to a halt. If Rose has specific counseling needs to address her agression so be it. I am also equally as supportive of helping a child in need as protecting one that is being hurt. But this is your daughter, and this is your job to protect and be her voice.. I had to do something similar when my daughter was in high school.. and the lesson learned for my daughters was to confront the conflict.. do not let it grow.. because at the end of the night your daughters well being is at stake. I will be thinking about you and hoping that the school manages this appropriately.. and that your daughter can continue to do what kids are supposed to do. and not worry about this kind of stuff. hugs

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

Next time the counselor tries to make you and Watermelon feel responsible for Rose's bad behavior, try this, "Well, we appreciate everyone sharing the burden of teaching Rose good behavior. Instead of Watermelon taking it all on alone."

Because, in effect, that is what they are asking Watermelon to do. Keep Rose quiet. Herself.

LDswims said...

I know I am standing behind you in this - and I'm pretty sure I can substitute "we" for I" but I was always taught to only speak for myself, in general. Anyway, you will be strong. I know you will. In my mind, the fact that you know you aren't mother of the year - makes you mother of the decade. You do everything you can for your kids and they know it and are great little girls because of it. So you don't like vomit and poop - this is different. And I know you won't hesitate for a second to stand up for anyone you love.

Treat this meeting like these people are already on your side. State the facts and stay calm, like everyone said yesterday, but you are not defending anything here, other than your daughter's right to have peace at school.

Dazee Dreamer said...

First of all, I love, love, love the new look on your blog.

I'm so glad that you are being pro-active with her self esteem. Kids can be so mean.

I truly hope the school will do something about the bullying. And that is just not right that she will pay the boys money to be mean.

When did you say you were meeting with the higher ups?

MandaPanda said...

Good luck! I hope with all of your good intentions and collaboration, a solution can be found. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you and your watermelon!

Amanda said...

"Rose" sounds a little passive aggressive! What a young age for that to come through!

Bonnie said...

I'm on pins and needles waiting to hear how it goes. It's obvious that everyone knows Rose is a disruption so the school needs to step up and come up with a solution. I can't believe that more parents aren't going in with you to complain.

Lanie Painie said...

You go mama! You stand up for your kiddo! I know you'll be great.

amandakiska said...

I'm a little late to the party (stupid gainful employment), but it sounds like you guys are handling things perfectly. Keep us posted!

Lonicera said...

Ah but you DO find the right words Draz - that's why you have so many followers, so many people wanting to help you - and just in case you felt tongue-tied, there are some wonderful suggestions on what you could say. I like Joanna's at the top of this crop of comments, because they're words of emotive content which by their phrasing have to be delivered in an unemotional way, and that's the most effective approach.
I wonder if this new angle might help: my mum was a headmistress for the last 20 years of her working life, and the hardest people to help/deal with (after government officials) were unhappy and frightened children - because she couldn't be with them to protect them, and had to teach them to deal with bullying when adults were not around. The easiest, on the other hand, were the angry parents, and that's because angry people are not in control - she was a headmistress who was used to being in control. Don't get me wrong, emotion and tears of sadness for your child are good, they show concern, but back it up with flinty determination and you're unbeatable. Joanna's quotes are excellent - perhaps writing them down might help?
And another angle: when I was 5 I was bullied at boarding school (I was too young to be sent away to boarding school, but that's another story), and on one occasion, 3 boys chased me up a tree and stood guard below for two hours, not letting me down, and watched by some of the girls. I was terrified out of my wits, desperate to go to the toilet, and felt totally and utterly alone and abandoned, and at 5, I thought I would be there for a very long time. As it happened, the dinner bell solved the problem - they were hungry, and I slid down long after they had gone. I shook with fright for several hours afterwards. (And may I say it did NOTHING to toughen me up).
But this was boarding school and my parents were far away - and your daughter will never have to feel this, because she has wonderful caring parents who are standing by. She's a lucky little girl.
Perhaps when it's all over you (or the teachers) may be able to deal with the underlying problem - Rose - and her obviously unhappy home life.
Good luck Draz, but you don't really need it - with your heart the size it is, wee Watermelon has nothing to worry about.

Jess said...

Well my comment yesterday wasn't very rated PG. oopsy! I hope things go good Draz. I am sure they will. This is just another little milestone to get past.

Good luck!

Karen Butler Ogle said...

I wish you the best with the intervention, Draz. I know you will handle it well. I'm trying to be hopeful that the school will do something to effect a solution. I don't have a lot of faith in schools, to be quite honest. We had some bad experiences and it once involved my taking my daughter out of one school and moving her to a different one. If Rose is so disruptive in class, then they will have to do something soon. Here is our county, we have a separate school called the Alternative Learning Center where students who are disruptive are sent until they can learn how to behave appropriately in the classroom. Maybe your school system has a class or a separate setting like that too.

~Lisa~ said...

I can't add anything that hasn't already been said here other than, please know that you and your family are in my prayers.. And for Rose too...

Please keep us posted..

Lee Ann said...

Draz, what Joanna said is useful, but as a former teacher, I will tell you that they CANNOT and will not tell you how the bully will be dealt with. It's confidential. Sometimes parents would make demands regarding wanting to know what would happen to other students and while I wished I could tell them---I could not. It's confidential and that's that. I would assume that's true in every state. Regardless, you are doing the right thing and you'll definitely leave the school with some answers. Don't stress. The school is on your side. They are your partner. They will help you navigate this situation.

Cat said...

I will only add, Hugs to you, Rambo, and Watermelon... And good thoughts that things will work out.


Ice Queen said...

If you see this before your meeting, remember, you are Mama Bear. You are a steely eyes missile woman, rising in defense of your child. And that, my dear is the most primitive, natural thing to do.

Strength. It is you. Love. It is you. Support and defense of your baby girl. It is you!

Ice Queen said...

I meant steely eyed. Geeze, why can't we edit comments when we make idiot typos? lol

Laurie said...

My heart is heavy for Watermelon. She shouldn't have to endure this. I am so glad she knows her parents have her back.
You will kick some serious butt in the meeting....wear extra deodorant, though just in case :)

Beth Ann said...

Good luck!