Call His Mother

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.

Leave a Reply


  • I am so sorry your daughter had to experience that. Kudos to her (and you!) for having a good relationship where she could share what happened. More kudos to you for taking calm action to get the situation resolved. Hopefully you won’t need to ever do this again.

  • Christina

    I am so glad to hear a story of a parent teaching their child that bullying isn’t acceptable. In your case, both moms were on the same page. A lesson that your daughter and the other boy will take forward. I am glad you have the guts to call the mom, and she was responsive. We hear so many stories of parents not caring or defending such behavior, that I am happy to hear about parents doing their job.

  • Kudos to the boy’s mother for her actions but what did you do to help your daughter learn how to cope with a situation like this in the future so she feels as empowered as you do? Don’t get me wrong I think what you did is awesome but you aren’t around all the time & things like this will inevitably happen again (sadly enough). Your daughter will need some social strategies to deal with things like this in the future & I’m just curious as to how you coached her to handle it so it doesn’t affect her self esteem. I think this is one of those things all parents struggle teaching their children: positive self esteem in the face if adversity. (My 4th grade boy struggles with his self esteem & I’ve tried a variety of strategies so this is why I ask)

    • Amy

      She did exactly what she was supposed to do. First she told him to stop. Then she went to the bus patrol and reported him. They then told him to stop, which made him do it more. Thankfully, it didn’t make her feel bad, it just made her angry and frustrated that there are people with bad manners out there. Truly, she couldn’t have done anything more. The situation was so lopsided with such an older child.

  • Mommy is a teacher – and she was *thrilled* to read about how this boy’s mother made him be accountable and apologize. Too many times, she has seen parents ignore or defend their children’s bad behavior. AND, there are times where it’s not too difficult to see where the child’s behavior came from!

  • That’s great that the other mom made him take responsibility for what he did. But my question is, why would a bus driver put a kid who’s already being punished for ‘bad behavior’ with the little kids who are obviously more of a target? That seems like a recipe for disaster to begin with!!

    My kids have always ridden the bus and we’ve never had a big problem with it – but there have been a few instances of name calling, usually with older kids and my 10-year-old, who has always been more of a target for that kind of thing. We’ve only ever found out about it way after the fact though – I try to stay more on top of asking the girls lately but we haven’t had any problems for the past year or two. Next year all 3 girls will be on the bus!

    • Amy

      Deb, it’s strange, but the kids who can’t behave on the bus and receive an assigned seat have to sit at the front with the kindergarten riders and closest to the bus driver, which is how he got to be near my daughter. The bus driver is focusing on driving, as he should be, so he can’t do a thing to make them behave anyway.

  • anne

    wow. the parents of the little boy are certainly responsible people. what an incredible response.

  • Wow, that’s wonderful that you got such a good result! I do think you’re right though, communication is KEY! Good for you for reaching out!

  • Elaine Lund

    I’m glad this worked out for you.

  • Janet

    Very nice writeup. I’m glad everything worked out. Bravo to the other parent for really stepping up to the plate. 🙂

    I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but I’m going to share it since others might read it. As parents, we need to remind our children that words are simply words and have no bearing on who they really are. The sooner children begin to learn to ignore the “noise,” the easier their lives will be. Reflecting back on my own childhood, I think that is one of the key lessons that I learned from my parents. It’s served me well my entire life. I can tune out the “noise” and concentrate on what’s really important and that is being the best person that I can be.

    • Amy

      Janet, thank you for making that great point! Happily, my daughter’s main reaction to this boy’s word of choice was that it didn’t make any sense, solidifying for her that his behavior was pretty out there. LOL

      • Janet

        Amy, I’m glad to hear that. Your daughter sounds like a very smart cookie to me (I wonder where she gets that from?!).

        When I was growing up, the Internet didn’t exist as we know it today. My kids, however, are a different story. I took the lesson that I had learned from my parents and applied it to the Internet. I told my kids that nothing that happens on the Internet has any bearing on their real life. They need to learn to ignore rude and ignorant comments and walk away (a.k.a., shut down the computer). Believe me, there have been times in my “virtual” life when I’ve followed my own advice. A simple press of the “off” button is quite liberating.

  • Lori A.

    I am impressed with that boy’s mother. She is giving him the opportunity to grow up to be a really good person.

    • Amy

      Absolutely. I spoke to the father later that night as well and am hoping to get to know them better. I was very impressed.

  • Sara @Doodle741

    That ROCKS!! I am SO GLAD she did the RIGHT thing and made him apologize!

  • wow what a great story. glad it ended up the way it did!

  • Thank you for sharing this! I’m so glad to know there are still some parents who parent!

    • Amy

      I was happy to find that, too 🙂

  • What a great story! I love to see parents actually parenting and not just making excuses. Good for you for advocating for your child.

  • This thing most impressive about all this is that you were available to your daughter and immediately noticed a change in her mood. Then your daughter communicated the problem to you thus providing you the opportunity to help her. Great parenting!!!!
    I think good communication is the foundation to protecting our children. We can only help them if we know about their problems. Here is a blog post you might like that relates to this post.