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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cry Baby

Sometimes I hate kids. I mean, you've got to love their honesty and cuteness and all that, but sometimes, I just don't like them. Well, not the collective them. It's actually just one that I don't like. One that just gets my hackles up, whatever hackles are. When a kid does something that gets my fierce mother lioness side all hot and bothered. If you're a mom, you know what I mean. I don't think dads come programmed with this. Thankfully, they come with the "let's build something or blow something up" gene that is somewhat useful at times. But, I digress.

The incidents I'm thinking of didn't happen recently, but are forever burned in my mind and last night I saw the kid responsible for them. Oooh, kid, I still don't like you.

So, you know this kid. Everyone has one of these kids in their class. You know, the one who they now are labeling with "anger management issues". (Insert big eye roll here.) The one, who for reasons you don't know or reasons you really don't want to know, can't control himself. He's the one that has been raised wrong. He's broken and really, there is no hope for this kid. But, somehow he has more rights to an education than the rest of the rule-abiding children that surround him in class. But, once again, I digress. Back to the incidents.

In first grade, Young One was still very trusting. He was a cute kid who got on the bus with the big boy neighbors, wearing a backpack bigger than he was. Until the incident that became his first peek at how not nice human beings just can be to each other.

Anger Management Boy, who I believe at the time was maybe called Oppositional Defiance Disorder Boy or Hyperactive Attention Deficit Boy, just walked up to Young One and put him in a choke hold. It took several teachers to get him off my son. We were called. The Principal (insert Dun, Dun, Duhhhhhhh music here) was involved. A social worker chimed in. It was chaos.

Bottom line: my son had a red bruised neck for a week, his voice got raspy, and he was extremely traumatized (as was I) by the whole experience.

So, what's a mom to do? I called, trying to keep my mother lioness personality at bay the best that I could. I spoke with the teachers, the principal, and the social worker. I hear about Anger Management Boy's "issues", his "family environment". I hear about the "messy divorce." And what I discovered is that my child doesn't have the same right to an education (in a safe environment) that the child now known as Anger Management Boy does.

So, a couple of years go by, and for the most part, encounters with A.M. Boy are limited. I refuse to allow Young One to be in a class with him and so far, my requests have been honored. This year, however, A.M. Boy attacked Young One again. As the teacher put it, "It happened so fast, no one could react. We were all so shocked." Young One came off with a scratch and a swollen nose from a punch to the face. His glasses were bent and the lenses gouged. More traumatic to him was the trip to the Principal's office in which he was made to feel as if HE was also in trouble (not really by the school staff, just his own perception).

This time, I went to school, and took Young One home for a breather. He needed to recharge before going back to his class and Lord knows, his whole school didn't need to see him with a tear streaked face, red nose, and crooked glasses. A.M. Boy's parting words from the office to my son were, "Cry Baby." I've never spanked my child, but man, did I want to lay out this kid.

Once again, I call, I speak to anyone that will listen to me. And once again I ask, why does this child have more rights than mine? At what point, do we intervene and remove this child from the school? What does it take to actually get expelled these days? I'm told, again, that this is a child caught up in a very messy divorce ("The divorce is still taking place three years later?" I asked). He has "issues", he has a "personal behavior plan" in place. His blah blah blah blah blah, politically correct terms, blah blah blah blah, blathery blah blah. So, placate me and keep it quiet, and wait it out and pass this kid off to the middle school principal in a year. GRRRR.

So, Young One lays on my bed, we watch a few cartoons. I wait until some calmness comes over him and until his heart beat isn't thumping hard enough to flutter the front of his shirt. And I tell him that we're not going to let this boy keep him from his friends and HIS school. That we're going to get it together and go back. And that he should hold his head high, not let this boy defeat him. I explain to him as gently as I can that this boy is broken and most likely will never get better and that he needs to stay clear of him. I also told him that it is appropriate to protect himself in any way he needs to and to use his Tae Kwon Do moves if he needs to defend himself. (This was so hard for the pacifist in me, but Mother Lion had taken over somewhat here.)

Fast forward a few months and A.M. Boy is now stealing lunch money from kids on a field trip I was chaperoning. The money gets back to it's rightful owners, but really nothing but a wrist slap happens to him. He laughs on the bus ride back to school. "Next time, I won't get caught," I hear him brag. Oy.

So, last night is Young One's Summer Orchestra Concert and A.M. Boy is part of the orchestra (which is so surprising to me because as a general rule music kids are good to the core--it's probably part of his behavior management plan! HA!). I now just look at the kid and think, "What a little creep," and don't spend much more time thinking about him other than picturing his future in some Boot Camp for Bad Kids (I think this is a franchise!) or in jail.

The concert is lovely. What a great group of kids. With all of them playing, you don't hear the squeaks and ear bleed inducing squeals that can happen when you give a ten year old a string instrument and a bow. And they play a Jewish song that happens to be Young One's favorite song of the concert. And it reminds me of the last time he practiced that song for me. As he finished it, he got this funny look on his face and his eyes filled with tears. "It's just such a sad song, Mom. It just gets to me."

And I'm touched. And so proud of my Cry Baby. He may be the one that has tears again at school and just might hear that name calling again someday. But, he'll also be the one that will cry as he makes his wedding vows and when he sees his child for the first time.

Cry Baby.

That's okay with me.

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