May 9, 2008

Learning Curves Hurt

By Kristine John

In parenting, it is often said that the oldest child bears the brunt of the parental learning curve. I believe, that today, I have introduced a steep curve into the already tumultuous waters of beginning teenagehood.

My oldest son has now spent almost 2 full years at our local middle school...enduring bullying...both verbal and physical, and dealing with flat-out sexual harrassment.
(Since when did being nice and not cussing or thinking crude thoughts classify a young man as gay? Has it always been that way?)

On Monday, he was punched "where it counts", and it was witnessed by the PE teacher.
While the teacher did check to make sure Stephen was "ok" numerous times, he did not report the incident or take further action against the student who hit my son.
On top of everything else that has happened, this particular incident was the end for me...I requested a conference with the counselor...wanting to know some coping strategies for my son and for myself.
When she heard the level that things had gotten to, and the names of the kids involved, she asked me to talk to the principal.
(My husband was leery about me going in to begin with, but especially did not want me to go to the principal because he fears more bullying and unkindness will be focused on Stephen).
I agreed to talk with the principal, feeling that I would have a leg to stand on (i.e. a documented meeting) if things got worse in the future.
The principal asked if he could talk with Stephen...and I agreed, thinking at the time that it would help if Stephen felt like he had an adult on his side...

Within about 10 minutes of leaving the principal's office...I have been unsure and worried about my decision to "take this to the next level".
Yes, Stephen only has a few days left of 7th grade...but if the other kids know that Mommy was in the office, he'll have more reprecussions he can deal with.
Unfortunately, there is no way to see how this will turn out until it does just that....turn out...
either positively or negatively....which one still remains to be seen.

Add a prayer to mine that we'll make it through the teenage years with him still talking to me.
Learning curves hurt.


  1. Oh, my heart goes out to you and your son! I just spent time with our principal...but for another matter.
    As for the "Since when did being nice and not cussing or thinking crude thoughts..." Our son was also very involved in choir and orchestra. He was "asked out" by another young man right at the beginning of his freshman year. Ammon was horrified. I felt bad because I never saw it coming and hadn't prepared him for something like that...parenting is painful...thank goodness we have the gospel to help us recognize and appreciate the joys!
    Yes, my prayers are with you!

  2. Kristine,

    Middle school is the hardest. I've had five of my children make it through that difficult time. My oldest son was being harrassed by a TEACHER. I pulled him out of that class and part-time homeschooled him in English (my major) which was a fun year and only took a few hours a day. My third son was also subjected to bullying. I took the same route as you but finally couldn't stand it and pulled him out of school. He did karate for social interaction and scouts. We learned about civilizations, higher math (he made it to 10th grade Algebra) and the theory of relativity. It was a brilliant year of intellectual exploring. I sent him back in High School but by then his friends from Karate and church were strong enough that it was a great transition. My fourth son would come home in tear from the foul language he had to endure in school. With him I found a christian middle school which worked scholastically and gave him a great foundation in the gospel. He would listen to their theology and come home, intent on studying our own and finding the truth.

    Just leaving him in public school isn't always the answer but for each child the answer may be different. Good luck in your search. I know the spirit will guide you but remember you have a lot of choices.

  3. There are no easy decisions in this matter. I've been accused of things that I now look back and laugh about. And I was short so I got my share of beatings (I never got good enough to give back as much as I got and that was from guys!!!). Coping skills are invaluable. Good luck. You have my prayers.


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