Hello sweet friends! It has been a while since we have posted, but we are back and ready to tackle as many adventures as possible in 2019! While we have been having some grand adventures the past few months, we took a hiatus because we embarked on a journey we hoped we never have to do. Our sweet boy entered 3rd grade with all the excitement and anticipation as he has started school the past 5 years, but this year we encountered something heartbreaking … bullying.
Our funny little comedian, who is a friend to all had become the focus of a fellow classmate in a negative manner. Now, this is not the type of “adventure” we normally share here and we took a hiatus to work with him and the school to get the issue under control. While we continued to partake in adventures over the past few months, I didn’t have the heart to continue to post exciting and adventurous tales while I watch our sweet little guy struggle to find his worth and self confidence in this struggle.
I also don’t want to ever make it seems like our life is filled with fun and adventures and real-world problems don’t affect us. So with his permission, I decided to share with you how this journey affected us.
To understand the struggle, you first have o know a little about Jamie. His whole life has been centered around making people laugh. It’s where he finds his happiness. He has also always been the champion of the little guy. Several times a year in the last 3 years of school we have heard stories of him standing up for a smaller kid who was being picked on or befriending a quiet child or inviting a shy student to play. He is a friend to all. This year started no different. He made friends in class, in fact a few came to his theater production of Lion King at a local theater, so we thought it was going to be a pretty good year.
A few months in we started hearing about this one child who would say mean things and tell him he couldn’t play with him and his friends, so we’d tell Jamie to focus on the friends who wanted to play with him. We started to realize that we were getting to the stage of classmates separating to play beyond the girls and boys. We had conversations about how he didn’t have to be friends with everyone, he just had to be kind and respectful to everyone, which is a hard lesson for a kid who loves to make people laugh.
It wasn’t easy to see him sad about someone not wanting to be friends with him, but as adults we know that relationships have different degrees of interaction.
In October he started to tell us about more of the mean things this kid was saying and doing, and at the Fall party I watched this kid walk up to Jamie several times while he was interacting with friends and poke, push or hit him then walk away. I didn’t know it was the same kid until later, but that’s when we began to take notes and eventually brought the school and teachers into the mix.
It’s been a little more than 3 months and we are still working with the school and seeing changes for short periods then it starts again, but that isn’t the goal of sharing today.
From the start we have simultaneously charged in like a bear to work to fix the issue while talking to him about things he can do. The hardest part has been to get Jamie to understand that he can choose to walk away from the kid, because it’s natural to want to defend yourself against words, change their mind and do what it takes to make them like you. But that’s not how the world works. Teaching him that sometimes he won’t be able to change a person’s mind and behavior is something that we still struggle with. Trying to get him to understand that this person’s words or actions are that person’s burden to bear and that by choosing to let them take away his happiness is something Jamie has control over is not easy for an 8-year-old to grasp.
But one thing we have talked to him about and that we are completely in control over is letting him see us fight for him. While my husband’s approach may be a little more “intense” than mine, we both want Jamie to see that we are fighting to make sure that school is a safe place and if the staff can’t ensure that, we will make what changes we need to make in order for it to feel safe. In 3rd grade his biggest problem should be multiplication and division. We are working to show him that we will work to ensure he is safe while at the same time teach him to stand up for himself. It isn’t easy. But it’s important. There is no handbook for how to deal with this, but while we may not have chosen this journey, we are not backing down from the challenge set before us.