The conversation started on the way home from school. “How was your day—tell me what you did at school today.” I usually have to press a little bit to get any substantive answer. Today was no exception, but there was something else.
My daughter is pretty forthright—a first grader, she has formed some pretty definite opinions and picked up early on a few “teenagerisms.” Today her mumbles made me ask her to say it again. What happened?
She was on the playground with friends and something happened that resulted in my daughter being shoved against a wall and punched in the stomach. By another first grade girl. It was said so matter-of-factly. “My friend and I stood in front of the kindergarteners so they wouldn’t get hurt. Then <name> shoved me against the wall and punched me in the stomach. It hurt a lot.”
I asked the questions we’re supposed to ask: Did you tell an adult? Why was this person upset? Did you tell her you didn’t like what she was doing and you didn’t want to play with her anymore? Did you tell an adult?
The response was “I was embarrassed because I was crying.” Then, “can we stop talking about this mom?”
I was mad, concerned, maybe a little skeptical. This is my daughter. The girl who, when asked about by teachers, is always the one who “plays with all the kids,” “shows compassion,” “plays well with others.” I know she has her moments—especially with her little brother—but I couldn’t imagine what would provoke another child to hit her. And secretly I hoped that there was nothing said that revealed a “mean girl” progression in her.
But, we didn’t have any validation. Wouldn’t the school have contacted us? We’ve received accident reports from run-ins with playground equipment. I was sure a run-in with another student would certainly qualify.
The school had just finished a whole week focused on bullying. Standing up when you see it happen, talk to an adult, make sure everyone is included. How could this happen so close on the heels of that focus?
So I talked with a couple of parents. This was not an isolated incident, this behavior had happened before. And I met with the first grade teacher. And then I found out that my daughter had told the truth—about all but one thing. She had told an adult. A couple of adults, actually. And the little girl who hit my little girl was brought to the principal’s office. And everyone is on high alert. Except that we, the “little girl who stood up’s parents”, were not on high alert. Or wouldn’t have been if that conversation on the way home from school hadn’t taken place.
We’re huge school supporters. Both TKs (teachers kids), we value the time, compassion and caring that go into our schools. This time, though, we were disappointed. That the aggressor’s parents were communicated with, but not us. That we weren’t given a proactive opportunity to provide support to our daughter. To make her feel safe. To tell her how proud we were that she stood up. And that she did the right thing by finding an adult.
In the end, communication took place—because we initiated it. And although I know it’s hard to keep track of so many kids, so many situations, I just wish that this one had been seen as a priority. Not just for monitoring bullying, but supporting the kids who stand up to it and say no.
I’m so proud of my little girl. And I hate that she had this happen.