On Kisses, Bullying and Birthday Parties
My son Javier, who is five years old, kissed Heidi, one of his classmates, some moths ago. And he has been paying for it big time.
Javier has been coming back from school pretty upset lately. “Mommy, Larry keeps on saying Javier kissed Heidi on the lippss! all the time”. The first time he mentioned it to me as “a problem he had at school”, I told him “You know Javi, I am sure it is because HE wants to kiss Heidi. Tell him that he is picking on you because he wants himself to kiss Heidi and he will surely stop”. I said with a smile. He seemed comforted and did not mention it again.
After that episode, I forgot about it. Soon thereafter, Larry’s mum sent us an invitation for Larry’s birthday. “Great! They seem to be great friends”, I though, and accepted it without doubt.
But, apparently, my trick had not had any effect on Larry’s persistency. He kept on repeating on the innocent sentence and it soon started draining Javi’s morale. Two weeks ago the alarm went off when he came home saying “Mommy, I hate Larry”. He knows “hate” is a very strong word to use only to be used in very extreme cases.
“Why?” I asked
“Because he still says I kissed Heidi all the time!” he said with a face as if he was carrying the weight of the whole world on his shoulders.
“Well, I think it is time for you to speak to Ms. Andrews then. Tell Ms Andrews and lets see what she thinks.”
When my Lovely Hubby arrived home Javier repeated the story to him. “That is bullying” he quickly said.
“Is it?” I though. “Can a five year old, who is surely not aware of the damage he is causing, be bullying my son with such an innocent sentence?”.
I quickly went to my computer to search for a bullying definition and landed in stopbullying.gov, the official webpage on bullying for the USA. I read on and quickly learned that bullying requires “an imbalance of power […] (which can be triggered by access to embarrassing information) to […] harm others. It also involved repetition of the behaviour.
“Oh gosh, my son is officially going through his first bullying experience!” I though in disbelieve.
I wrote a note to Ms Andrews who quickly sorted the problem on the following day.
“Javier, tomorrow is Larry’s birthday party. Are you excited about going?” I have just asked my son.
“No, mommy, I do not want to go. He is a mean boy”.
It is now my turn to call Larry’s mum and explain why my son does not want to go to her son’s birthday party. Gosh!