The other day I was packing Big C's school lunch, and I asked him what he wanted in it. I was shocked when he asked me not to pack his favorite fruit snacks.
"Why not buddy?" I asked. "You love them."
"Because this boy always tries to take them from me."
At first I was surprised. Then I was sad for my son who would rather give up his special lunch treat than confront this classmate. And then I was ANGRY. How is it possible that bullying starts as early as 1st grade?!
Big C told me more about this boy and their interactions. I learned that this boy regularly makes fun of Big C and rounds up his buddies to join in on the jokes. I told Big C to laugh it off and try not to let the jokes bother him. I told him not to sit near the boy at lunch. I told him not to stoop to this boy's level by making fun of him in return. And I told him that he needs to continue keeping me informed and to go to the teacher if the boy ever gets physical.
I didn't know what else to say. I've read articles about bullying, but honestly, I never paid close attention because I figured I'd have years before I'd have to worry about it. To think of my boy struggling with a bully at 6-years-old absolutely blows my mind.
I wanted to tell him to retort with a snide comment of his own. I wanted to tell him him to gather up his own friends to make fun of this kid. I wanted to tell him to be tough and stand up for himself. I wanted to tell him not to be vulnerable so he won't be prey for bullies that will only get meaner as he gets older. And I wanted to tell him to get this kid's phone number so I could call his parents and tell them to shake some manners into their child!
But as much as I wanted to say these things, I didn't.
I want to teach my children to have the confidence to solve their own problems while at the same time maintain communication with me. But that's much harder than it sounds. I don't know if I said the right things. I don't know if Big C is following any of my advice. I don't know when I should write a note to the teacher. I don't know how far this bully will go. I don't know how Big C will handle it. I just don't know.
What do you think? Has your child ever been bullied? What advice should I give to my son? At what point do I need to get involved?