In light of my what my favourite blogger(Limpeft) have shared on bullying, I thought I want to share my experience of bullying in playground. They don’t just happen to children, but parents.
(I may delete or make private this post anytime but thought I will share it for now.)
Just over a year ago, Ryan started formal school. As parents, we were excited and happy that our eldest have reached a new milestone. Since Ryan is our first child, most of our experiences with him are as new and foreign as it gets.
For the first few weeks, Ryan came home, happy with everything in school but he did have this constant complaint of a particular child, who shall therefore be known as X. According to what I heard from my 4.5 year old, X was always pushing him(and other children). X was hitting him(and other children). Initially, I did not want to make a fuss about it since they are still young, school was a new environment to all of these kids and X’s mother was sort of an acquaintance. However, the day went Ryan came home and complained again about X spitting on him, I thought I should email the teacher and ask if there is anything I should know of and what I could do to help. Then, I was almost due to give birth to Baby Megan anytime and I wanted to settle this nagging issue as soon as possible.
The teacher requested for a meeting after school and he assured me that he knew of the situation. Ryan was neither a culprit nor a victim. The same for X. The same for a bunch of boys in school. After his explanation, I was assured of his words and understanding of the situation. Before I left school, I saw that X’s mother was a distance away(like maybe 100 meters away) but feeling annoyed at the situation, I just quickly went off to my car with Ryan.
The day when I was due to give birth to Megan-like I was literally experiencing contractions, E sent Ryan off to school instead. E came home, telling me tat X’s father approached him outside of school, asking him to get me to apologise to X’s mother for Ryan’s behavior. E, being non-confrontational(and the fact the X’s father was sort of an acquaintance as well), just told X’s father that the women should just ‘settle their problems’.
My waterbag broke.
I was really upset. I felt indignant.
I don’t exactly think I can explain the the entire torrent of emotions that I felt. I was angry at the audacity of the request. I was upset because I thought E should have stood up for me and questioned more. I felt so annoyed and confused on how I had to be the one apologising? Why me? In any case, why not E? I mean, according to the teacher, no kid was the victim or culprit, so why was there even a need for apology? And who in the world would ask her husband to ask my husband to ask me for an apology? Are we in like some episode of Mean Girls?
One entire month passed with no more news of X or X’s parents as I was doing my confinement month at home. The first day after I finished my confinement month, I went on my school run with Ryan in the morning. After dropping him off at school, I started walking towards my car, only to have X’s parent shouting my name behind me.
They stopped me and insisted for me to apologise to them. At first, I was reluctant, offering to meet the next morning instead with E to talk things through. They refused to let me go. By then, E called and needed me to go home and find his passport. That day happened to be his first day at his new job. Being pressed for time and under such duress, I apologised, only to have X’s mother, telling me that my apology was ‘insincere’. (E was on the phone throughout, and even he could hear her shouting at me.)
I repeated my apology and yet, she went on shouting at me, using her mother tongue and with her husband calmly translating it for me in English. The situation may sound absurd to some of you but it did happened. I know many of you wonder why did I not want to just walk off, but X’s parents are sort of acquaintance and we see them quite often locally. Honestly, I wanted to settle this as amicably as possible.
On hindsight, I should have known it was not possible as X’s mother sounded more and more infuriated and she went on telling me that Ryan ‘hit her son’s leg 5 times'(this was questionable as both kids were only 4.5 years old then, and I usually take everything with a pinch of salt). Towards the end of the drama, X’s father has to pull his wife to cross the road so as to stop all the shouting and translation. But she ended by screaming at me, ‘You are a bad mother. You are so young but you are a bad mother.’
What she said then really broke me to some extent because sometimes, I do think I am a bad mother(unfinished household chores, not enough vegetables in meals, inattentive parenting….) but I am trying the best that I can to not suck so much at my job. They left. E told me that he found his passport and I did not need to rush back home. Then, I headed off to do my grocery shopping, with her last words of me being a bad mother ringing in my head. While shopping, I saw one of my local Mummy friends and I told her what happened in tears, in a supermarket. She did offer, wanting to mediate but I thought it was just going to be harder, unnecessary and perhaps even more traumatising.
In the evening, E came home and we drafted an email to check with Ryan’s teacher to tell him what happened in the morning and asked if there was any crucial point that we may have missed out during the earlier conversation. E’s teacher forwarded the email to the headteacher and he settled it with X’s parents swiftly in the next evening. The headteacher did give me 3 choices of- settling the matter with X’s parents on our own, or with him as a mediator or just avoid X’s parents for the next 6 years. Being me, I chose the last option.
In my opinion, the fact that X’s parents(or mother) could openly confront me in such an aggressive manner meant that she did not care much for any sort of relationship or acquaintanceship?
Since that day, I always went to school runs in fear. Then, E and my sister took turns to accompany me on the morning school runs. I was worried that X’s parents would ‘chase after me’ again. I mean no one could know what’s in the minds of another. Can they? The fact that they could openly shout at me in public possibly meant that they might hit me as well? Fortunately, they merely look past me during school runs, and pretend that I am entirely invisible.
It was hurtful in the beginning and given my personality, I constantly asked myself if I could have handled the ‘situation’ in a better way. Inside of me, I was frustrated at the situation and I foolishly projected my anger at E and sometimes Ryan(it’s ridiculous). Having just given birth and gone through such an ugly drama, I felt depressed then. If anyone recalled, my blog posts then was quite foretelling and dark.
Over time, with family and friends support, I managed to get this bad episode out of my system. (Earlier this year, I heard from a fellow parent that X’s mother is going around, telling other parents how I am a bad mother? To hear this just made me even more sian. *sigh* ) I shared this with my pastor and she helped me so much by praying for me and and with me. I don’t exactly know why sometimes things like that happens, but because of such agonising circumstances, I grew and I learnt to know who are the ones who were there for these dark times. I went through cycles of despair, anxiety, anger and I am thankful that God gave me such encouraging people to tide through this.
Recently, I did get some news about X’s parents and how they have been doing the same to some parents as well? This time round, apparently, the school made a stand of just handling children’ issues and not the parents’. One mother went to the police and reported X’s mother for her confrontational and aggressive behavior. Apparently, this sort of actions are known as ASB(Anti-Social Behavior). For the record, X is not being bullied. He is physically stronger and sometimes, can be hurtful to milder ones? In words, X can be insensitive as well. X’s mother is annoyingly nonchalant(and non apologetic) when it comes to her son’s forceful behavior but she gets upset when her son complains of being hurt by someone else.
As parents, we love our little ones so much that we would unflinchingly give our lives up for. But, I feel that it is just not right to go around, insisting that your child is the best and most worthy and while everyone else’s are lesser?
Maybe as parents, it would be good to model positive social behavior to our children-like to share, to not fight, to know that they are not ‘better’ than any other of their mates?
Given the same situation, would I have reacted differently then?
I would have just walked off and not subject myself to their verbal abuse. Yes. I would do that.
Question to ponder through, if a parent is a bully, would the child turn out to be one as well?
I am not sure how any of my children will turn out to be in the future. But for now, I would continue my best, to try to be a better parent, for them. Okay, off the computer for starters! Out!