I haven't posted about this yet, because it is really hard for me to talk about, think about, and much less write about. However, some life lessons have been learned, therefore, I feel like it is worth blogging about and recording it in our family blog books.
A few months ago, William started showing signs of anxiety. He is the same age Mary was when her anxiety came out....kindergarten (5 years old).
He does not have separation anxiety, like Mary, but he gets major anxiety if the schedule is changed in any way, and he also has a huge tendency to obsess over something. We have both anxiety and OCD in our genes, so Ben and I are not surprised to see that a couple of our children suffer with it, but it is still so hard to see a child struggle with this.
A little while ago, Williams anxiety quickly turned to school. He started begging not to go to school every.single.morning.
Not only did he not want to go to school, but he had HUGE anxiety about Luke going to school. He would start to panic the night before Luke had preschool, he would have nightmares about Luke going to school, and he would literally stand right next to Luke on the playground when they did get to school, and try to force him to go straight to his classroom.
Another random thing, William started asking me not to comb his hair. I could not figure this one out. He just refused to have his hair combed for school. He would let me comb it for church, but not for school. He was also starting to become more angry, upset and mean to his siblings. He started calling them names I had never heard him say before, and he was doing some really mean physical things to them too. He would come home from school every day grumpy, upset, and out of sorts.
As a mother, I was extremely concerned about him, but I had no idea what could possibly be going on. I prayed a lot.
Then, on afternoon, after William had come home from school crying and angry, I was at my wits end. He kept on telling me that the "humans" were being mean to him. I had no clue what that meant. After trying to get him to talk to me, to no avail, I let him watch a show on his tablet to calm down, but 20 minutes later, when I told him his time was up, he flipped me off!!!!
In our house, we absolutely do not do that...ever. Ben and I do not do that, and we do not allow our children to use vulgar language, or do vulgar gestures.
William's back was to me when he did this, so he could not see my face. I was completely stunned. There was my 5 year old boy, sitting on the couch with his back to me, with his arm up in the air, flipping me off! My immediate reaction was to punish him, ground him, or find a serious consequence.
But, some little voice, deep in my heart, whispered to me to calm down, and to ask William where he learned to do that. I took a few seconds to calm down, and then I walked over to William, sat down by him, and asked him where he learned that gesture from.
He told me that the "humans" do that to him.
Enough was enough. I had to figure out who these "humans" were. I continued to gently ask William what else these "humans" do to him, and his answer still makes me cry, fills me with rage, and makes me sick, every time I think about it.
William is in the dual immersion program at his school. He is also in all day kindergarten. Normally, Kindergarten is 1/2 day here, but William is in all day.
His afternoon class has two white kids, one of which is William, and the rest are Hispanic. They are all native Spanish speakers who are learning English in the morning class. William and one other kids are native English speakers learning Spanish in the afternoon.
The "humans" in Williams little 5 year old mind...are Mexicans...in other words, the Hispanic kids in his class. Eight of them to be exact.
William proceeded to tell me what these "humans" have been doing to him. They were calling him names and swearing at him in Spanish. They were hiding from him at recess, and when he would walk by, they would jump out and hit him and kick him. One day they even hit his head into the wall. When he would cry, they would call him a big baby (which is what he has been calling his siblings lately). They would flip him off regularly, and whenever his hair was combed, they would smash it down and mess it up. This was happening every day, at every afternoon recess.
As I sat there and listened to my sweet 5 year old son, with tears in his eyes and a quivering chin, tell me all of this, my chest began to burn with anger, and my heart literally began to ache and hurt. All I could do was cry along with my son and hold him as tightly as I could.
Everything from the past few months began to make sense to me now.
His worry about Luke at school. (he didn't want him to be bullied)
His night terrors about school.
His little bumps and scrapes he came home with from school.
His progressive anxiety, anger, and frustration at home.
His not letting me do his hair.
His obsession with counting down the days until school was out for the week, and his begging me not to make him go to school.
His new list of mean names, words and gestures.
It all made complete sense, and the guilt that washed over me was heart wrenching. I sat there and thought about all of those times I made William go to school, and then went about my day, completely clueless that my sweet boy was being subjected to such horrible things. This thought has been haunting me ever since. I just can't shake it.
As soon as William and I finished talked that day, I called Ben. I couldn't handle the pain of what I heard alone, and I needed Ben's support and advice to lean on. Ben and I talked for a while, both of us hurting for William, and we decided that I would immediately pull William from his class, and talk with the teachers and principle about the bullying.
It was the weekend, and I fasted and prayed for William and for the right course of action to be taken at the school.
Monday morning, I sent William to his morning class, with a promise that I would be to the school before his afternoon class (where the bullying was happening), and bring him home. I would do this every day until the end of the school year if I had to.
I drove to the school that afternoon, checked William out, put him in the car with an adult there to watch him, and I charged back into the school, full blown momma bear ready to pounce.
I found Williams teacher out on the playground, and confronted here right there on the spot. I told her the situation, as calmly as I could, which was soooo hard to do, I wanted to scream and yell and find those kids and let them have it, but I calmly explained everything to the teacher.
She was awesome, and immediately got the principle involved. I talked with both of them for a long time, gave them the kids names, and switched William to a completely different class, and to half day kindergarten. He is already at a 1st grade level in every subject, so it was no problem.
The thing that really go to me, is that the teacher and the principle did not seem at all surprised. In fact, they listed off the names of the kids that were bullying William, before I did. They knew this was going on. Yes, they would act on it when they saw it, but it was not stopping these kids. This really, really upset me. They would punish them after the damage was done. There were no preventative measures being taken.
Apparently, these kids have already been talked to numerous times, along with their parents. That is good, but obviously, it wasn't stopping the problem. I let them know that I felt that more action needed to take place, and that these kids needed to have a bigger punishment, or at least not be allowed out at recess. (or even at school in my opinion).
I did all that I could do, and then I got in the car, gave William a big hug, and drove him home.
William has been visibly happier when I pick him up from the bus in the afternoon, and he seems to like school more, which is good. His new class is great, and his teacher has been paying extra attention to William, and has been really trying to build his confidence at school.
He does still have a lot of anxiety and frustration to work through though.
This is going to take time for him to overcome and to change his way of thinking about school and unfortunately also Hispanics. We are not racist, but it is getting really hard not to clump the race together right now, and just be mad.
I hate that my son had to go through this. I hate that my chest still burns and my heart still aches every time I think about this. I hate the terrible guilt I feel every day knowing that my child went through this, and I was clueless for so long. I hate that somewhere along the way, some little 5 year old kids are experiencing feelings that they feel they need to deal with by bullying. I hate that this world has hurt and pain and heartache, especially for innocent children.
These are 5 year old kids. Five years old! I am astounded.
That being said, I am so grateful for that little voice in my heart that told me to put aside my anger and to sit down and ask my son why he did what he did.
I am so grateful for the teachers and the principle that took us seriously and who have cared for William and his well-being at school.
And I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves all of his children and who does watch out for them and answers prayers.