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Monday, October 04, 2010

Now Things Are Beginning To Get Hard

When you have a newborn, and are enduring sleepless nights and sheer exhaustion, you think "This is hard." Then you have a mobile baby who you can't let out of your sight for two seconds and you think "No, this is hard." Then you have a toddler, laying on the floor in the middle of a public place throwing a tantrum, and you think "No, actually this, this is hard." Etc. etc.

With each new phase your child moves into, new challenges arise, and you find that they are harder to deal with than the previous phase. (Now don't get me wrong, there are perks, too, that balance it all out. With everything I deal with right now, I can at least be comforted by the fact that I don't have to wipe anyone's butt anymore.) However, now Ryan is starting to reach the phase where I think I'd rather be having to wipe butts. Heck, give me a sleepless night with a newborn, or a toddler throwing a tantrum, over this.

Ryan is now a fifth grader, just one grade away from junior high. I hated junior high, and most of you out there probably did too. It's a miserable time, made even more miserable by other kids. The kids that choose to deal with feeling bad by making other people feel bad too.

The first hints of this were seen recently for us. Ryan went to a campout with a bunch of other boys, and apparently some bullying went on. He was pretty upset when he came home and told us what happened. I was upset too, when I heard. My first instinct was to jump in and save him. I gave pause though, and realized he's starting to get to the age where he's going to have to deal with some of it on his own. I then realized that as parents, we're going to have to be the ones to figure out when and how to jump in, and when we should just let him figure out.

This time, we did step in, as we felt what was said went way too far and should be addressed. I had a nice heart to heart talk with Ryan, too. I told him that this is probably going to happen more as he gets older, and he is going to have to decide, as a person, how he is going to handle things like this in life. On the one hand, you see those stories of kids being bullied so much they kill themselves, and that scares me. A lot. On the other hand, someday Ryan is going to be an adult, and there are still going to be bullies. I won't be able to swoop in and rescue him anymore.

I know part of my job as a parent is to teach him how to deal with it. The problem is, I was always terrible at handling it, and even now as an adult, I don't handle confrontation well. Somehow I've got to help my son navigate the next few years and come out the other side intact, when it's something that I was barely able to do at that same age. And that? That is HARD.


Jim said...


Anonymous said...

That's the suck :( I don't understand at all why kids have to be cruel.

Mary said...

I got here via Anissa's blog. May I offer a suggestion that worked for me?

First, I was horribly bullied in school and didn't handle it at all well (I learned to play sick very convincingly, though).

When my children started to face these issues, I sat them down and would ask them questions like:
Why do you think this person is acting this way? Is it right to act this way? If you could have thought of it in the moment, what would you have said? How do you think you should respond? Etc.

These questions helped them to figure out things they could do to handle a bully. Also, it wasn't advice from Mom, as they came up with it on their own, so they actually used it. :-)

I find this questioning technique much more effective for many things than yelling, lecturing, preaching or whatever.

Good luck. At least you take the whole bully thing seriously, so I think your son will do just fine.

Meghann said...

Jessica-I don't understand it either.

Mary-thanks for the thoughts! I'll definitely keep that in mind as we continue the conversation with our son. I just hate that he has to go through it at all.

Kellyology said...

My son is a 5th grader also, and at my son's school he doesn't move over to the Junior High until 7th grade. I am so relieved about this because like you I noticed that the kids are definitely at the figuring out the boundaries stage. For my son we had an incident last year, 4th grade. It threw me for a loop as the problem came from some girls. I think the advice that Mary gave is good advice. We did all of that, and we talked to the school principal because the problem was pretty bad. By the end of the year it had worked itself out, and this year has been a much better year for him. Good luck!