Last night, I received the worst phone call I’ve had, thus far, in my life.
The call telling me about the deaths of my grandparents and my friend were devastating, but expected. Those calls upended me in ways that haven’t righted.
But last night’s call has to be remedied. Fixed.
I was blindsided and sickened tonight by a call that detailed how my son hurt another child. On purpose. While they were playing.
Not out of anger. Not in retaliation. I’m not yet sure why… he was already sleeping when I heard the awful story. So now I get to hear why he did what he did.
And I have rather low expectations, because what I’ve heard so far is deeply upsetting. From sources I trust. With proof.
There aren’t many posts online when you search “what do I do if my child is a bully?” People are, it seems, terrified to talk about what it means to be the one who harbors the maladjustment that leads to aggressive behavior in children.
Yes, I tend to make mountains out of molehills. But I have several friends whom I call and ask for sanity checks. My parenting sanity check was not willing to place this on the innocent to sociopath scale. But we both understood it’s much closer to the latter.
My preliminary searches suggest low self esteem. I knew that part. Lack of conflict resolution skills. I don’t think so, from what I’ve seen. Role models who coerce or shame or intimidate?
I don’t want to write this post. I don’t want anyone to read this post. I sure as hell don’t want anyone to talk to me about this post.
I barely slept last night, my churning stomach nauseating me awake every time I managed to relax and forget.
I have to go have the talk soon. His dad is coming over so we can present a united front.
I might throw up.
I am praying for your talk that it might affect him in some way
He showed a lot of empathy, and a lot of understanding, and enough remorse that I’m less worried. But this is still the beginning of the journey of learning for all of us, and skills building that will make sure it never happens again.
good luck! i believe he and you can do it!
Hugs…those are awful phone calls. And coming just after your lovely post on birthdays too. Hugs and chocolate.
Thanks. The talk went well. The plan for addressing long-term solutions and skills is forming. I’m a little less nauseated. Progress.
These are the hardest moments of parenthood – but the fact that you are addressing it – instead of ignoring it, or hiding from it – means that the situation will be remedied. Sending hugs. You are doing a good job, mom.
I’m so glad the talk went well and you feel a little better. I’ve been thinking about you ever since I read this post. Parenting is so challenging and full of opportunities to second guess everything
Thank you! The talk did go well. The substitute pediatrician on this week while ours is away told me I’m ridiculous to worry. A few friends at work had good ideas and measured approach to “it might be closer to normal that you think” for his age. I still don’t accept that it’s normal for any age, but I’m less horrified.
I feel for you. I’ve been there, done that with uncomfortable calls, too. Every mom has. And if she denys it she’s lying. Hugs to you and everyone involved- it’s never easy but you will power through this.
Oh, Jane. Makes me cry for you to say that…certainly if you’ve had a call like this then things might be okay. I’m serious.
Good to hear from you. Xoxox
Oh, the stories I could share!
I hope everything be all right again…Hugs
sorry about that. really saddening experience.
I have gotten that call too, and it was unexpected. My son had an altercation in class with a friend, but then it escalated later to my son kicking him on the playground. I was dumbfounded, because he had never acted like that at school, and towards a friend! But he immediately showed regret and was very honest with his principal and later with his father and I. I don’t necessarily want to say it’s “normal” for kids to “bully”, but to an extent it is. As long as the behavior is addressed and handled properly so that it will not happen again. Everything will work itself out!
Both my kids have had outbursts of anger where they hit or kick. And I get that such behavior is normal and needs to be calmly corrected. I don’t worry about that as much.
I worry intensely that this seemed sneaky and calm, and therefore disordered.
Maybe I watch too much Sherlock.
I have a vivid memory from my primary school years (all the more remarkable as I remember very little from before I was 11) of having put a post-it note in my friend’s journal which said I HATE YOU after a row. I forgot all about it and we made up, then she found the note and the teacher held it up and asked the class who had done it because my friend was really upset.
I was definitely “sneaky and calm” when I put the note in her journal, I wanted to hurt her the way she had hurt me. And when she was hurt, I was mortified and incredibly apologetic. I’ve grown into an adult who dislikes hurting others. I guess what I’m trying to say is the same as several other people have said – it can be normal to do even seemingly awful things. Testing the boundaries, pushing to see whether they’ll break, finding out “what happens if…”. You’re on this, you have responded and you’ll keep responding, that’s the most important thing. He’ll know from now on that what happens when he does that is an immediate and ongoing consequence that shows the boundary will not break.
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Big hugs, Jane.
I told you – you are, most definitely, NOT ALONE!
I’m sorry you had to deal with this. Not fun. But also not abnormal or a sign that anything is wrong with your kid or your parenting. I would venture to guess you handled it better than most. Just curious, were you grateful that someone called you about it? I recently gave another parent a heads up that her kid was doing something kind of bully-ish (with no judgment, just as an FYI) and I think she wants to hurt me now.
I was thrilled at the trust the other parent showed in calling me. He was kind and didn’t accuse. He delivered facts and listened to my reply. I didn’t debate him. I didn’t throw my kid under the bus, either. But I did make it clear that I would talk to my child, get to the bottom of it, and get their child an apology. It helps that we know each other (not well) and share a common communication style (this is what I observed rather than this is the conclusion I’ve jumped to).
Sounds like the ideal scenario for that type of thing. Glad it went well for you.
Yep. Sorry the parent you talked with was so defensive. I’m guessing (s)he knows something is up and was hoping nobody would notice.