Monday, October 15, 2012

Standing Up to Bullies

Cole's transition to Kindergarten has generally been good. Actually, great. He likes going to school and is disappointed when it's not a school day. He enjoys taking the bus. He tells me about what they do at school and gives me the latest update on the number of butterflies and cocoons in the classroom butterfly garden. He asks every day if it's Wednesday because Wednesday is when they go to the library and he's excited about the next book he can pick out.

If you remember, we went back and forth about what to do with Cole for Kindergarten. Many people wait an extra year for their young five-year-olds, but we decided (along with his teacher) that Cole was ready and let's go for it. It was mentioned to us that maybe Cole being small was a reason to wait another year for K, but waiting another year was certainly not going to make him even close to one of the tallest in the class. And we don't want Cole to think that being short is a reason to hold you back from doing what is right for you.

We also strongly considered homeschooling, and admittedly, one of the reasons was to protect Cole from all the bullies out there. I was teased a LOT as a kid, mostly for my age, my intelligence, and my weight - you know, the small things. :( But I know that homeschooling can't protect Cole or anyone else from teasing, maybe it just prolongs the inevitable?

We've talked with Cole a lot about his height because it's something HE has asked a lot about. He was aware of being short last year, which makes sense because he *is* short compared to other kids his age. He's frequently mistaken for someone younger, which also happened to me. So we have talked up the positives of being short and I have shared personally how I have come to appreciate being on the shorter side for a variety of reasons.

This year, unfortunately, instead of just being cognizant of his relative height, he's being teased about it. Yes, already. Sigh. It has just been recently, and I was going to make a point to sit down with him and talk about "comeback lines" to say when others teased him for it. Then tonight at dinner, he said, "Some kids [he named names, but I won't do that here] were teasing me because I'm short. I told them, 'I don't CARE if I'm short, I like myself just the way I am!'" The best part? His facial expressions and body language conveyed that he actually believed what he was saying. I got teary-eyed.

Friends, this is the key to standing up to bullies: unshaking self-confidence. Just as God made Cole with red hair, lots of energy, freckles, and lots of creativity; Dean with big, blue eyes, the best hugs around, PWS (yes, with PWS), and an infectious giggle; and Emmett with 5 dimples (yes, 5), super-soft skin, and a cheerful disposition, knowing who you are is crucial. God made all things good, and he doesn't make mistakes.

Lord, I pray that our children would always know that you made them exactly as they are. May you give them an unshakable sense of self that is grounded in love, courage, and faith. Protect them from those who seek to harm them, and guide their hearts to extend kindness to others as well. Amen.


Unknown said...

Way to go Cole! Excellent post Ali... Glad things are going well in Kinder.

Giulia said...

Way to go, Cole :)

I think that homeschooling can be great for some children who cannot do well in a school environment due to the noise, learning issues etc...
But school is neither a panacea (a Greek and fancy word for a universal remedy).

The most important is having positive social interactions, and not socializing at all costs.
I don't believe at all at the trend socializing at all costs, even if it means being bullied all day long.

Some parents consider that socializing at all costs worth the child's well being. Nothing worth it, not even a diploma.

Homeschool is not a panacea either, BTW.
The right solution is what works for the person X.

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Thanks, Tim, and well said, Giulia!!

Y Mama said...

It's like hearing it for the first time all over again. I get weepy. Love your blog Ali!