In past posts, I have touched on how my son has been bullied in the past by a small group of kids a year older than him. Nothing physical, but the public ridicule took its toll on him. I knew that some of my son's atypical behaviors fueled the verbal confrontations. He can be an easy target for those that are less sensitive. Despite working with the school and setting up accommodations to diminish the target on his back, I still felt and continued to feel that those bullies were just awful. Especially, the one boy, the biggest of the three little villains. I knew that he was the one that taunted my son. I could hear and see him yelling from the bus at times.
Now, I was also frustrated with the parents. I kept seeing them at scout meetings and wanted to approach them about the issues, but as the bullying was dying down and there hadn't been any more problemst. I knew that his parents probably thought of my son as the problem, and that their son was the innocent victim, but as everything seemed to be going fine on the bus, I decided not to stir the pot.
My daughter just so happens to be in the same class as Bully #1's sister. Tonight was the teacher meet and greet at the school and their mom was right behind me. Our daughters get along pretty well, though I have felt that her daughter can be a bit bossy (surprised?).
As we waited to talk to the teacher, I casually made my way to their mom and stroke up a conversation. I gently dropped into the conversation about how happy I was with my son's class this year and with his IEP plan. That provided me with an opportunity to explain that my son has Asperger's and ADHD (HELLO! YOUR KID WAS BULLYING MINE!!).
She clearly had no idea and went on to explain how her son has a seizure disorder that can make it hard for him to control his emotions. On top of that, he has to take medication to prevent the seizures, but it makes him incredibly irritable. She expressed how she felt bad about the situation on the bus and was glad that every thing had been going well lately.
Importantly, though, I had no idea about this boy's situation. I judged him just like so many others have judged my son. And just like those "others", I was wrong. Lesson learned!
Oddly enough, I was talking to my son about bullying today. He seems to be getting along well with his classmates lately, which I partly contribute to his dye free diet (See Day 59 Riding Dye Free). He brought up a situation where another boy who has special needs came over to him and his friends. My son explained that he likes this kid because the boy is always wondering how things work, "just like me" he says! He said that the boy asked his group what they were doing and one of the boys told him nothing. I could tell something bothered him.
I felt like maybe my son didn't agree with the "nothing" answer. He knew that they were obviously playing, but the other boy had been left out. I took this opportunity to tell him that we should always be kind to others. We definitely don't pick on others or make them feel bad. His response "I would never do that!" (Proud). Then, I went on to say that we can't allow others to be bullies either. If he were to witness bullying, say something to a teacher. If you see a child that's not being allowed to join in, then try to include them. He seemed to really think about this. I hope he's able to connect with that other boy that thinks like him too. I hope he's able to accept having new friends, but also be that friend to someone who may be feeling left out as well.
Hopefully, my son and I both have learned from today. I will say that I felt incredibly grateful that my son considered the situation with the other boy today. His conscience knew that something wasn't right. I'm glad he discussed it with me. I have never doubted what a wonderful heart he has, though others have probably judged differently because of his low frustration tolerance, but that heart of his sure made me smile today. Love that boy.