Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pulling my hair out

Ethan's always been this outgoing, personable, friendly kid. Even when he was a baby and toddler, he didn't know a stranger. He was never, and still isn't, that shy kid that hides behind his parent's leg when someone says hi. He's always had an abundance of friends because he's the type of kid that makes friends anywhere he goes. Until now.

Ethan is still the same kid I just described but the kids in his new school, more specifically the ones in his class, are flat out mean. I don't want to generalize the statement because I'm sure it's just a handful of kids in his class, but it's still enough to have a significant effect on my boogie.

He's been having so many problems with these kids since he started this school in the first week of November. At first I just attributed it to the fact that he was new and the kids were trying to figure him out. But it's continued to get worse and it's affecting him in school and at home. They're cursing at him in Spanish and they tell the teacher Ethan did something that he didn't do and because there's "witnesses" (as the teacher put it) he gets in trouble. They're constantly picking on him and basically just being little fucking assholes. And the worst part? They're getting away with it. Why? Because even if the teacher sends something home to the parents, they don't speak fucking English and if they do, they don't give a fuck about their kids. And that is coming from the teacher herself.

I met with her in early December just to see how Ethan was doing and I asked her if Ethan's doing something to these kids to make them not want to be his friend. She said no, that this class is the worst one she's had in the 10 years she's been teaching there. She continued to tell me that they've had to have the guidance counselor come in and speak to the entire class (before Ethan started there) about treating others with respect and the Principal has often come to observe the class.

So yesterday she sent me an email that said, "....He was cutting in front of others in line and denying it. He hit someone on the back during recess and also denied it. When I confront him, he says “You never listen!” I tell him I’ve tried to be as fair as possible, but when there are witnesses I have to believe them, especially when he’s committed the same infraction before. He is also saying “shut up” to others more often." There were a few other things too but the best part was that I already knew that Ethan supposedly did these things because he told me. He came home completely upset because he did hit the boy in the back on accident when they were playing ball and he immediately apologized to the boy. The boy said, "No problem." then turned around and told the teacher Ethan hit him. When Ethan said that he didn't hit him the way the boy said, the boys friends chimed in and said they saw Ethan do it. What happened? Ethan got in trouble. Then they were standing in line and a boy pushed Ethan out of the way so he could get in Ethan's spot. When Ethan tried getting back into his spot in line, the boy and his friends told the teacher that Ethan was cutting in line. And he's telling these kids to shut up when they continually belittle him.

I've told Ethan that when they pick on him and say mean things to tell on them. But he so desperately wants to make friends, that he doesn't want to make them mad at him by telling. I've explained that they're not his friends if they're doing that kind of shit to him, but he says they're the only people who actually hang out with him in class. One boy actually lives a few houses down from us and gave Ethan his phone number. Ethan called to see if he wanted to play and the boy said yes. When Ethan went down there, the boy slammed the door in his face and yelled, "GO AWAY!" And the kids fucking mother was home! Ethan called me up in TEARS! Break my heart! I wanted so badly to go down there and ask that lady why she let her kid be a little asshole, but I didn't. I kept my calm and just told Ethan not to worry about him, that he wasn't his friend anyway if he was going to act like that.

All of these situations are really stupid, but I suppose that's the life of a 10 y/o. And honestly, it's really upsetting Ethan because he feels so ostracized. Never before has he ever not had friends. He's switched schools one other time and didn't have any problems making friends then either.

I'm certain that Ethan's not perfect in the troubles he's having and I'm certainly not that parent who thinks her kid can do no wrong. Ethan's been grounded more in the past 3 months than he's ever been. But I know my son and I can see how badly these kids are affecting him. So this morning I made an appointment to speak with the principal on Friday afternoon and I am going to demand that he switch classes. As I told the teacher in my email back to her, it's my responsibility as his mother to help him succeed and he cannot thrive in an environment where he doesn't belong. It's the teachers responsibility to facilitate a peaceful, productive environment which doesn't seem to be what's happening.

I have cried because my baby is constantly getting his feelings hurt and being made an outcast. Well, not any more. Come Monday, he's going to be in a different class with nicer children and a better teacher. I'm going to also request that he speak with the guidance counselor once a week because talking about the situation with someone not so biased might be helpful for him and she might be able to offer different ways for him to handle things.

Wow that was a lot, but I needed to get it out and I feel better now.

Deep Throat of the Day: Am I crazy to think that the kids around here (in the city) are just that much different than the kids in the country?


The Lily said...

kids around here are just so angry in general, if not self-entitled. Poor baby, I am so sorry.

Jim McKee said...

Wow, April, I'm sorry your son has to go through such crap. It's not right.

Carmel Beauty said...

IT is hard out here for the younger generation. With kids shooting up schools, and being general assholes you can't find good teachers and in general the country right now is not making it any easier. It is a shame when children pick on other children, but most of the time it is because of the bullies home life that those types of situations occur. I believe that the steps you have just outlined will go a long way towards helping your son. You may also want to go to the school on a day when you can spare a couple hours off work and observe the class yourself once he moves. Make it a surprise.

Kira said...

That totally sucks. Ariana's going to switch to a new school next year, and this is exactly what I fear could happen. You just don't know what kind of kids are in ANY class, and that has little to do with the city vs. country thing. There are plenty of parents out here in the country that don't parent their children nor care about them, too. For some reason, kids just occasionally group together in a very detrimental way. Ariana had a class like that fall in place last year, and so her class was known as the animal class of the whole school. Thankfully, the kids were redistributed in a better fashion this year. In her case, though, she was never the victim of the obnoxious kids--they were boys picking on boys. And the one bitch queen in the class tried her attitude on Ari, and Ari gave her the smackdown so that it never happened again (I mean verbal smackdown--my daughter can dish it like no other girl her age). They just get meaner as the hormones kick in, too, so it makes me on edge. I can just see myself going to jail for taking a handful of kid in each arm and smashing them together...mama grizzly gets angry when her cubs are disturbed. I really hope the new classroom setting helps him! I think you are doing the EXACT right plan of action there. Keep us posted on what happens next.

Grant said...

Ethan can't tattle on the others because, right or wrong, that will get him labeled as a snitch and then nobody will want to be his friend. Tell him that the real trick is to go in on your first day and either kill someone or become somebody's bitch. It should be smooth sailing after that.

Amanda said...

Kids are mean. One of the high school classes - honor students, no less - were a lot like you described. It's a pack mentality. They single out one kid for whatever reason and go after him/her relentlessly. I called the guidance counselor and principal only to be told that "they've always been like that." I was pissed. Moving him to another class sounds like a good plan. Or to take a page from Grant's book, just tell Ethan to go apeshit on one kid. The others should back off after that.

NWJR said...

I went to a school in the country, and believe me when I tell you, it's no different. I could tell you horror stories, but I really don't want to relive them. I will tell you this, though—having a parent on my side made all the difference in the world, and Ethan is lucky to have you. He'll never forget it. Trust me.

Britni said...

Kids are cruel, period. I'm so sorry that Ethan is having to go through this right now. I know how much it breaks your heart to see him suffer.

Roland Hulme said...

Oh, the poor little guy!

I got picked on mercilessly as a kid and the thing that REALLY annoyed me is that teachers AUTOMATICALLY blame the victim. A kid gets picked on, gets called by bad names or anything else like that, there's this instinctive urge for teachers to assume he somehow 'asked' to be be the victim.

It sounds like you're being a great mum to him and he's handling things as best he can - how frustrating must it be to be constantly punished for things hie didn't do. No wonder he tells the teacher 'you don't listen' because they CLEARLY DON'T!

Poor little guy. It breaks my heart. I'm so sorry.

If it's any consolation - kids are generally just little shits anyway, especially in gangs.