Sunday, September 30, 2012
Don't Sit Next to Peggy
If you can throw the farthest, jump the highest, kick the most accurately the playground is your mecca. It also helps to have expensive shoes and clothes with names other kids have seen advertised. Having parents with time and money to cart you to activities helps cement your status. And so it happens I try to convince my children of their responsibility to look out for others, the others who have none of those advantages. They say the same thing, "Mom. It's not like when you were a kid. There is no bullying anymore. They start teaching us about it in kindergarten and never stop. If someone is bullying they get in huge trouble so it doesn't happen anymore." They go back to their happy groups oblivious. I tell them of course it happens, maybe not the obvious pushing and shoving. But they shake their head no and say bullying does not happen. And so, in the middle of the school year, a teacher asked my son if he would sit next to Peggy at lunch. The teacher told my son the whole class to have to sit boy girl boy girl so it would not be noticeable. The teacher also told my son that this girl has issues, and could he try and talk to her, and be nice to her. He came home and told us. He did not know anything at all about Peggy. The first day was uncomfortable, almost like a silent lunch, none knew what to say. My son noticed this girl now. He told us about a world he never knew existed. The kids would tease her quietly and laugh at her. When they walked past her they would say to each other, "ewe, don't touch her! You'll get her germs." and walk away laughing. The second day at lunch he asked her where she lived. She told him without looking away from her free lunch. That was the conversation. As the week progressed they talked a little more, not much more. When he passed her in the hall he said hi to her. His friends said, "Who is that?" He said, "The girl I have to sit next to at lunch." He would talk to us about the situation and we were learning just like he was. Finally, I called the teacher. The teachers knew how this girl was treated. He explained some of the multiple situations that morphed into behavioral problems that made the cycle even worse. The teacher thought if my son could just be nice to her, maybe he could help her in some small way. The teacher was kind. No private information was ever breached, there was no gossip. At dinner, we talked again about our responsibility to help others. My son understood. In his lunch he started to pack 2 of the junk foods we are allow them to pack (gummy bears, fruit roll ups) one for him and one for Peggy. She thought it was a trick, why was he giving her treats for no reason, then she took them. The seating arrangement lasted about 2 weeks and then they went back to their groups. He sat with his friends. She sat on the end or missed lunch because she got in trouble and had to spend lunch somewhere else.
Posted by Annmarie Pipa at 10:02 PM