Last Thursday was supposed to be an exciting day. My daughter needed to arrive home from a long day at school, full of energy, ready for a busy night at the theater. It was her very first dress rehearsal, the evening before her first dance recital. There was hair to do, make-up to put on, a costume to be fluffed. Instead she dragged her feet walking down the sidewalk, her head down, her pace slow. Once we got inside the house she shared the source of her bad mood.
A fourth grade boy who had been forced to sit with the little kids because of bad behavior had spent the bus ride home telling my quiet as a mouse seven year old that she’s a “craphole.”
We are a Sponge-Bob free house, a clean mouth zone, a mean words safety area. This was certainly a new experience for my daughter, and neither of us could figure out what would possess a fourth grade boy to go for such a weak target. Oh yeah – because she’s a weak target. Fortunately, I am not a weak target. I got her started on her pre-rehearsal snack and grabbed the school directory.
Now I vividly remember the day that my dad called a boy’s house knowing full well that his parents were not home from work and pretended to be the elementary school principal. I can’t remember exactly what the boy in question had done to me on the bus, but I know it involved a physical scuffle of some kind, and my dad took care of it swiftly. I felt protected. I felt cared for. I felt safe again. Certainly I wasn’t going to go that far, but I felt strongly that as a mom it was my right to go directly to the source of my child’s pain rather than follow the “proper” channels of talking to the school or the bus driver. When the boy’s mother answered the phone I simply introduced myself and calmly explained the situation. She asked to call me back after speaking to her son, and what happened next shocked me.
The boy’s mother apologized for his behavior, brought him to our home to apologize in person to my daughter, and pulled him from the bus for the remainder of the year.
Immediately my confidence in parents shot through the roof, including my confidence in myself. I felt better about my daughter riding the bus, my son joining her next year for kindergarten. I felt better about my daughter being friendly with this boy’s little brother who is in her class. I felt downright empowered and incredibly respectful of this boy’s parents. Maybe talking to each other is really what makes us better parents, keeps us on the same page. Maybe following the steps that we’re supposed to follow isn’t the right thing to do and instead it’s best that we follow our parenting instincts.
Maybe sometimes all it takes is a phone call.