Monday, June 27, 2011

On Bullying and Parenting

Eldest was in his 3rd grade class play about bullying.  They performed their play for the parents and for most of the school (grades 2-4).

Saturday night, after a day filled with all-star baseball, Hubby received an e-mail that notified him that Eldest had been directly involved in an incident.

A baseball glove had been ruined.  Carelessly tossed in the wet mud. (The glove's owner was not a player on any of the baseball teams.  He was simply there as a spectator.)

The glove, as it lay drying, was subsequently stolen.

I knew all this had happened because I was working in the snack shack at the time.  I saw the wet, ruined glove.  I saw someone trying to figure out how to get the glove to dry. 

I had no idea that my child was involved.

Apparently, Eldest and a teammate were playing catch in between their games.  (I had gone home with Middle and Baby.)

Eldest's buddy told him to throw the glove in the mud.

So Eldest did.

(Two of their teammates saw this occur and took the glove out of the mud and handed it to a parent - the same parent who was trying to dry the glove.)

Anyway, long story short, my son made the wrong choice.

He did something wrong.  He hurt another child.  He destroyed something that he had no business even touching.  He succumbed to peer pressure.  (And holy deja-vu moment when you find yourself asking your child the very same question you were asked over and over again by your own parents:  "Well, if your friend told you to jump off a bridge, would you do that???")


A little piece of my heart broke on Saturday night. 

It broke to think of the glove's owner, whose glove was ruined.  And then stolen.  To think of how he felt.

It broke to think of the glove's owner's mother, whom I know.

It broke to think that my child would do something so rotten.  To do something that he knows is rotten.

It broke to see him crying in bed.  Sobbing himself to sleep.  Realizing that he had been so so wrong.

And look, I know.  Eldest is young.  9 year olds make mistakes.  Silly mistakes.  That these things will happen.  That he will be put in many many many more situations similar and much worse than this.

Crack, crack goes my heart.

This is how we handled it:

Yesterday, Eldest got on the phone and apologized to both the boy and his mother.

Hubby made arrangements with the mother that he and Eldest (and Eldest's buddy who was the one who told Eldest to throw the glove in the mud and HIS father) are all picking up the boy and taking him to a sporting goods store, where the boy will pick out a new glove.  And then Eldest and his friend will split the cost of the glove, earning money by doing chores allllllllllll summer long.

For all the times I've preached to you that "it gets easier" and "hang in there" - I never had the foresight to see this coming.

As they develop and are out of diapers and cribs and can buckle themselves in the car and can sleep straight through the night, yes, that part is easier.

And as they become more self-sufficient and are in school full-time and are not babies anymore, yes, that part is easier too.

But man, this learning lessons and teaching consequences and doing the right thing and realizing that you are shaping the choices your children make and the people they become....WOAH.

Parenting is hard, yo.


Mama Goose said...

I'm sorry you both had to go through that door, but thanks for paving the way and helping those of us who will, no doubt, be right there too someday - all too soon...

Stacy said...

Yeah, parenting is hard. SO HARD! My son is all kinds of acting out right now, as he fights a really tough battle with his ADHD and the impulses it delivers. I know within him beats a sweet, loving heart, and I just have to be up for all the work it takes to keep redirecting him toward it. It will be worth it, it will be worth it, it will be worth it. All the tears and heartache have to lead us somewhere good, together, no?

Mandy said...

I can't imagine how hard it is to start dealing with this stuff. Regarding your "if your friends told you to jump off a bridge" statement - did you hear about that kid who jumped off the Golden Gate after his friends dared him? He survived. But all I could imagine was how SICK his parents felt that he actually jumped at the urging of his friends. Crazy.

Mari said...

My oldest is 9 and we went through a similar situation this year. My sweet, kind boy made a wrong choice. It was so hard to deal with but I hope that in the end he learned his lesson. Thanks for sharing - I got a bit teary recalling how awful it feels for everyone - even the parents.

Denise said...

Forgive him, forgive yourself and move on. Bigger problems will be coming and this will be a valuable reference point for later discussions. Remember good kids make bad decisions. This comment from your friend the school counselor.

Jennifer said...

Yes it was a horrible, rotten thing, but also? What a valuable lesson to learn at such a young age. Because as they get older the stakes only get higher. And now he knows. That isn't a bad thing.

Kristen said...

I think bigger kids have bigger problems. It doesn't get "easier" it just changes. Hang in there. We are ALL in the smae boat

bethlowe said...

As the mother of two boys, 21 and 13, I can say that "forgive him, forgive yourself and move on" is great advice. My boys have good hearts, are good students and make me very proud everyday but they also make mistakes. I learned a long time ago to never say "my child would never....". If his heart broke, it means you're doing something right because he cares!

workout mommy said...

:( this just makes me heart break for you and eldest. I'm so impressed with the way they are "fixing" the situation....such a valuable life lesson vs. just you and the other parent giving $$ to the other family for a new glove.

Parenting is MUCH harder than I realized and it's so much more the emotional toll than the physical one.

hang in there and know you are NOT alone!!!!

Michelle said...

I am so glad I have your blog to read. Each and every one of your posts I can either relate to, or they touch me in some way. This one totally made me teary. Parenting is hard. And so is growing up. We lived through all the growing up once already, and now we have to live through all the pain again....through our children.

You are such an amazing parent. You really are.

Kjmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca said...

Thanks for posting this's important to see the realistic side of parenting and know it's a job that is never done. What people tell me is that it gets less physical and more mental.

You did the right thing...good job, Mama!

Kelly said...

Your post really hit home with me today. Last week my 6 year old was involved in an incident at school, which also 'broke off a peice of my heart'. It's scary to be a parent! Hats off to you & your husband for your response - it will be a lesson that eldest will never forget.

Adrienne said...

Mine are 24 and 21 and have emerged whole on the other side of many such life lessons. That his heart broke, and he is safe enough in your home to let it break, is such a blessing. For me, that was they key. Keeping home 'safe' enough so the hard, ugly, confusing, failure parts of growing up could be lived with family and surrounded by love and an 'in spite of' kind of acceptance was my goal. To this day I remember that first heart break...there's nothing else the feels quite like it. Sounds to me like you've found that illusive balance here between allowing him to feel and talk and learn for himself...and making your point. My greatest journey ~ with the richest blessings, has been this parenting journey...I wish for you the same!

@SierraSez said...

Good job Mom (and Dad) - consequences are the best lessons we can teach our kids because they will take the wrong path some times and all we can do is work to put them back on track.


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