My son has never been in daycare. For a while one of my friends watched him. For a few months my mom had him a few hours a day. Generally speaking though I have known everyone he has interacted with. He said something a few minutes ago about going to school next year. He looked excited. I felt a cold shiver of fear spread through my body. I know it will be good for us to be apart. I know. I know that teachers train for years to handle kids. I know that my child is well behaved, caring, and smart. He’s also shy. Smart and shy. I remember what kids did to the smart and shy kids. He has a gap between his front teeth. He’s incredibly tall for his age. These don’t make for a pleasant school experience, and none of us can argue that kids are nice. Kids are mean. Kids are ruthless.
I need to interject here that never once until I moved to the tiny little school district we moved to in 5th grade did anyone pick on me. Ever. I, in turn, never even thought to pick at anyone else in elementary school. The first few years at Tuslaw, though? That was awful. I was a little more, um, physically developed than the other girls in my class. My period started the summer before 6th grade. Near my 11th birthday. Now, I know that boys are pretty curious about things like boobs. As I have grown up I have gotten used to it, and on occasion used it to my advantage (what? That‘s what they’re for if they don‘t make breast milk like mine didn’t). In 5th grade at my old school though I was not the only one with them. I was not even the biggest. I wore an A cup in 6th grade, but truthfully I needed it in 5th. Anyway, when I moved I suddenly had a lot more attention than I wanted to in that area. There were really only 2 boys (one of whom continued the harassment through college, but by high school he wasn’t picking on me, just trying to sleep with me), but talk about crushing someone’s self esteem… My point is, I remember going home and crying and wondering what I did wrong that I deserved to be picked on. I couldn’t help when I started puberty. I was only 10 when this started; I was still a little kid. I didn’t fit in to any of the prearranged groups of friends. Kids at small schools aren’t quick to open up and add someone to the group. So, while I didn’t encounter anything until I was 10 and more equipped to deal with it, I remember what kids did to the shy, smart kids. I remember not doing anything to defend them because I didn’t want them to make fun of me, but I remember looking into their eyes and seeing the pain.
I swear to God, the first time my son comes home crying, I will freak out. I have been a little helicopter-y his whole life, but if someone hurts his feelings, or God forbid lays a hand on him, I will either yank him out of school and home school him for the rest of his life (not a rational solution) or I will be at the school every day until it stops. This is my kid. You can say anything you want to me. You can say anything you want to anybody else. Just don’t mess with my kid. I go into mama bear mode, and it’s not pretty.
At the same time he is the sweetest, most hilarious person I have ever met. He will do anything for anyone to make them feel better if something is wrong. So, maybe he won’t get picked on….and maybe he’ll have the courage to stand up for the other kids instead of seeing their pain and looking the other way. Maybe he’ll be better than I was. I sure could have used someone like that in 5th grade….