Running out of cheeks to turn (Or Stop being mean to my kid!)

If you thought my last blog post went on, I am thinking this one is going to be worse. Ladies and gentlemen, Mama Bear is mad. As my alternate post title says, "Stop being mean to my kid!"

I subbed for Jordan's class a few weeks ago, and it went rather well. However, she later told me that during the day one boy had told her to shut up, apparently because she told him to be quiet when he was talking when they were not supposed to be. Later, this boy apparently referred to Jordan as "Jordan the jerk."

I never saw this happen, which bothered me (which once again shows how difficult it is for teachers to keep track of every student while trying to teach). Regardless, I told Jordan that some kids are simply not kind, kids are going to say mean things, probably much worse, throughout her childhood, etc. But when Jordan told me this is not the first time this boy has been mean to her, and I could see this was bothering her, I thought maybe I should not let this go, particularly when I know that he is the second boy who has been unkind to her more than once.

Then I come to find out that early last week, two of Jordan's friends "banned" her from a recess chasing game because Jordan apparently gets too "crazy" when she chases others. Jordan said she begged them to let her back in the game and a third girl said she was "unbanned," but the two original girls said that she was still banned. Jordan told me that she hoped she would not be banned the next day (and fortunately she wasn't). But I just don't think her "friends" should have excluded her in the first place. If they thought she was being crazy, IMO they should have said if she did not stop doing X (which I think is running wildly and saying, "Ahhh" in a non-inside voice), then she could not play with them.

The kicker came on Friday at lunchtime. Apparently the kids at her table were harassing Jordan because I packed her a bologna sandwich for lunch, and according to one of them, "you can eat meat only on Tuesdays and Thursdays during Lent." Another girl said that I must have forgotten that it was Lent because I packed her a sandwich with meat. And a third girl tried to take her sandwich away because "you should not be eating meat." [For those of you who are not Catholic, let me enlighten you: During Fridays in Lent only those 14 or older must abstain from meat (which rules out about 95 percent of the kids in Jordan's school, by the way).] Jordan apparently did her best to ignore the taunting, but when she returned from a restroom trip, she discovered that someone took the rest of her sandwich! She asked who took it, and amazingly none of the girls knew anything. So my kid was left without the rest of her lunch.

What is wrong with kids today, I ask? One day later, I am still angry. I have already spoken to the lunch monitor, who informed me that a couple other young kids who ate meat were also razzed, and she talked directly to that group, to set them straight. (She asked why Jordan did not tell her about what went on, and this goes back to one of my failings as a parent; I have taught her to over-respect authority, to a point where she is pretty much afraid of adults in those situations.)

This one I won't let go. I intend to stop in to see the principal on Monday to respectfully ask that she share the Lenten regulations with the kids in some way, preferably multiple times, because speaking from experience, I have had to give some of these kids instructions three or four times. I am not sure if parents have told the kids that they can't eat meat, either because they don't know the regulations or they are afraid their kids will rebel if they don't really have to abstain. But even if kids of all ages were to abstain, why make a kid feel bad for breaking the rule, especially when her parents are the ones packing her lunch. Do they think she should not eat?! Regardless of that, I have already copied the Lenten regulation and placed it in Jordan's lunchbox for her to share with these girls Monday. Too far?

I would love to hear what you have to say about any of this. I am really struggling with what to let go and what to pursue, something made all the more complicated by my subbing at my kid's school. Is it kids just being kids? Am I too thin-skinned (probably having flashbacks to my childhood?!)? Do I have an obligation as a parent and a teacher to put a stop to it because some of this is bullying? And does it make a difference that the school is private? Honestly, if I sent my kid to a public school, I feel certain I would let most everything go. But we are really sacrificing to send my kid to this school, and it is sadly becoming hard to justify.



Shannon W said…
You and Jordan have my sympathies.

This stuff is so hard to deal with!! My daughter is in 1st grade at another Catholic school in Pittsburgh. She is a high energy, opinionated kid who plays better with boys than other girls. Plus she goes to afterschool, so that's another 2 1/2 hours everyday that she has to be with her schoolmates whether they are getting along or not. Her social struggles break my heart and transport me back to some of the worst times of my childhood.

I think it is a good idea to discuss the lunch incident with the Principal and with Jordan's teacher (and with her religion teacher, if that is someone different). It might be more productive to ask them if they have any suggestions rather than telling them how to handle it, though. But there definitely should be a basic level of respect that dictates that you do not take someone's lunch. Plus probably not all the kids are Catholic, so some have no reason to refrain from eating meat.

This is the first year that my daughter has expressed that you don't eat meat on Friday during lent. I'm not sure if they learned about it in religion or if she picked it up another way. It wasn't from us since in the past her dad has been the only one in our house to observe this (I'm not Catholic and we did not expect the kids to refrain). Since she realizes the restriction, I'm trying to help her comply with it (even though she is only 7).
Anonymous said…
Does your school have a anti-bullying initiative? many schools are doing with with zero tolerance to bullying. It sounds like you need it.

You need to speak with her teacher and prinicpal about these incidents. They are bullying her.

We all want to teach our children to respect authority but she has to learn that she can safely speak to the adults in her school about this. An anti-bully program can help. Do you have a guidance counselor?

As for the meat issue, I like the idea of talking to her religion teacher. It's a good way to share that information with the kids w/o singling out Jordan. My kids aren't fed meat on Fridays - we never gave it to them during lent. They know that they are still allowed to eat meat on Friday but we ask that they chose something else in the lunch line. (pizza, cheese sandwich, tuna, PBJ, etc) I am sure there are classmates of Jordan's whose families have done the same but that NEVER excuses them TEASING her and STEALING her food!! I would keep harping about this until something is done. That is blatant disrespect for your peers. Very un-Christian behavior at the basic level.

Hang in there, I hope it works out soon,
Facie said…
Thanks for your comments.

Shannon, I tried to heed your advice about asking for suggestions rather than saying what to do.

B, no guidance counselor and bullying is addressed somewhat.

I did talk to the principal this morning. At first, she said the no-meat guidelines applied to everyone, so I had to read it from the bulletin (I tried to be as diplomatic as possible, even saying I did not remember that it was 14 myself). She is going to address it, though I am not sure how. And quite frankly I am a little concerned; I fear the kids will just be mean to Jordan if they get in trouble.

I don't think I will address the rest of our conversation here, however. Let me just leave it I don't really feel any better. Still may talk to J's teacher, but I first want to see what happens at lunch.
Anonymous said…
your principal didn't know the guidelines for Lent? At a Catholic school? That's awful! If you don't get a satisfactory resolution, take it to your pastor.
Hang in there Faith!
call me if you need anything,
B :)
Anonymous said…
Facie-that sucks. There is no one size fits all solution. You can't expect kids to always be nice because the world is not kittens and rainbows. But the food stealing is ridic. And really the badgering is not much better. You did the right thing speaking up. I will be curious to see how the principal handles it. But I am with B. How in the hell does a nun not know the guidelines?!
Sherri said…
Oh wow - you know how I feel about this. I would be so upset. My kindergartner got left out of a group play date last week and the mother who scheduled it didn't seem to care that he cried his eyes out. I am getting a little tired of people who DO turn the other cheek - especially when they should be helping, a little up in arms, etc. - you know what I mean. It appears, in this case, that what those kids were doing was bullying, plain and simple. Someone thought it was funny to point the odd one out, and it snowballed. Taking her lunch at that tender age... just awful... shocking really. Where are the adults when these things happen? Anyway, I am ranting - very much on your side - very much hoping your sweetie will forget about this and enjoy her spring with her friendlier classmates. Yeah - it is abstain from meat on Ash Wed and on Fridays during Lent, right? Not sure about Holy Week???? AND, yes - kids only do so if they have made their confirmation, right?
Facie said…
Anonymous and Sherri, thanks for your comments as well. I have been a little busy to get back on here.

Anon: Yes, I know that what works for one does not work for another. And as for life being kittens and rainbows (or sunshine and lollipops, as I like to say), I know it is not that way either, but I still can keep hoping. All about doing the right thing.

Sherri: I think J is over it. All went well on Friday. And sorry about the play date thing. Sadly for my kid she has been asked on one play date in the almost two years since she has been going to that school (and it never even happened). I know I should probably just initiate; otherwise, my kid may never get to hang out with someone other than our running into someone at the park or her occasionally getting invited to a b'day party.

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