Sooner or later, just about every child has to face a bully. It’s a sad fact of life, and as a parent, it’s a tough situation. You want to jump in and defend your child, but you also want them to grow and be able to deal with bad people on their own, because you won’t always be there.
But what if…….
What if your child can’t take up for herself, and probably will never be able to? Imagine your child can’t talk, has poor balance, doesn’t understand things very well, and is just generally pretty weak. Then imagine someone hurting her. On purpose. Then imagine how you would feel about that person, his parent, and the people who were supposed to be monitoring the situation.
But then imagine something else. Imagine that the bully in question is a lot like your daughter. He doesn’t understand things very well. Oh, and he’s in a wheelchair.
That’s how my day went yesterday.
There’s a boy in my daughter’s class who is a repeat offender. Nearly everyone who has contact with him has suffered scratches (at least) at some point or another. This is the second time he’s got my daughter–this time right down her left eye and cheek, and when she put her head down in response to the attack, he got her again on the back of the neck. She cried–the girl who seldom cries. She was scared, upset, hurt, and confused.
Know what happens when you bother a mother lion’s cubs? Yeah, she kills you. Then she feeds you to the cubs. Then she lays and watches while the jackels and vultures clean up the scraps. I was there yesterday. It was as mad as I have been in a while, maybe ever.
I don’t know why it hit me so hard yesterday. Maybe it was a combination of the weather (gloomy), the time of year (gloomier) and my general bitchiness. All I know is something broke loose yesterday. The camel’s back broke–use whatever cliche seems most appriopriate. Ever since Evelyn started school, I’ve dealt with fear on a daily basis. It’s been the source of a lot of teasing and little jabs from the people who know me–jokes about Mother Hen and all of that. But here’s a secret–I don’t trust anyone with my daughter. I don’t trust my own family, and even to a smaller degree my own husband! And yet for some reason it’s supposed to be okay for me to ship my daughter off to be kept by strangers for half of the year. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do anyone’s ability to take care of her (although I secretly believe no one can care for her like me), it’s more my own fears. True, but from my perspective, irrelevant.
Then something like this happens and I spend the evening saying things like, “See! This is why I don’t trust people to take care of her!”
But for all of that, a much larger issue spread through my mind like poison all evening (and night, I’m sorry to say). What do you do when the bully can’t really be punished? Suspension is pointless. Behavior modification is a joke. Then there’s the real problem: his mother is worthless.
Now, that’s a harsh statement, but those who know me know I don’t care. I’ve met her. Remember my post, Trained Idiot? I mentioned some people I observed that day, but I left one out. It was her. Ironic, isn’t it? Although she would fit pretty well in the martyr category, that’s not completely accurate. I didn’t mention her, because something went beyond mere annoyance–I didn’t like her. Her attitude, her comments, everything about her, from her long curly blonde hair to her pointy-toed high-heeled boots, pissed me off. I couldn’t pinpoint it at the time, but my instincts just said, “Get away from this woman.”
Now that all of this has come to pass, I see my instincts were pretty good, as usual. Her son has attacked numerous people, and she is on the receiving end more than anyone. You know what her philosophy is? He’s punished every day of his life because he’s in that wheelchair, so it’s not fair to punish him for his bad behavior.
I’ve encountered this special-needs parenting philosophy before. It’s a lot more common than you might think. I personally think lots of people are guilty of this, not just with special-needs kids, but with any kid who has had a rough time in some way. You feel guilty for giving them a consequence, because you think, “Haven’t they suffered enough?” It’s easy to see how a person could feel that way. Hell, it’s hard not to.
But here’s what I’d like to say to Goldilocks and all those who subscribe to that particular bit of sentimental parenting: You are crippling that child in a way that the wheelchair never could. You are making him a social outcast, and you are guaranteeing yourself and him a miserable life. Special needs kids need structure and discipline just as much as any kid, and truthfully, more so. I know it’s hard–believe me, I do. It’s taken me almost two years to get Evelyn to stop hitting when she’s mad. A thousand times she had to hit and I had to correct her. It sucked. But guess what? I’m a parent–specifically her parent, and that’s my job. That’s what I agreed to when I got pregnant. Here’s the thing about ingnoring bad behavior–it isn’t just your kid’s problem. The minute he puts his hands on someone else, your crappy parenting is effecting others. The rest of us don’t have to tolerate it because you’re ruining your son with pity instead of raising him with love. I have pity for your son, but not because of his condition. I have pity on him because of the life he’s missing out on because of you.
I had a really tough time yesterday keeping myself in check. I have this Jeckell/Hyde thing sometimes when it comes to my temper, only I like to think of that “other side” as Redneck Mommy. She has a bad attitude, a foul mouth, and big, man-like arms from all of the heavy lifting. She longed to kick somebody’s ass yesterday. Let me tell you, even though I knew what had happened, when my daughter came down that hall yesterday and I got my first look at her, it was a struggle. I’ve always heard the saying “I saw red,” but until yesterday, I’m not sure I actually realized that this is literally what happens. If the bully’s mom had been there…..well, I don’t know what would have happened, but it couldn’t have been anything good. But I kept it together (well, mostly) and left with my dignity in tact. I went through the proper channels to get the situation handled and to make sure it never happens again. I’m actually kind of proud of myself.
But if it does happen again? Well, let’s put it this way–Goldilocks, Redneck Mommy is kickin’ your ass.