Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bullies in kindergarten

So everyone's back in school (YAY!) and I finally have some computer time! No bad Chinese soap opera's for me, although I am becoming partial to one staring the "Snake Lady." It's set in old China and the main villain is a woman who, you guessed it, turns into a giant green snake.

Anyway, now that school is back in session, we're also dealing with the issues that accompany it, and one of those is teasing. Zach came home on Monday and told us that the other boys were making fun of him because he painted some pink flowers in art and one of the stickers he picked was "girly." He also told us that one of the older boys on the bus punched him in the crotch on PJ day. I don't know if this kid singled Zach out or if he was punching all of the little kids. Sigh. It is so frustrating to encounter this so early.

We have worked hard to just let Zach be Zach. For him, that involves chasing butterflies, planting gardens, building ramps out of mulch bags, collecting rocks, and playing a mean game of Uno. No, he's not into cars and guns, he's more interested in figuring out why things work the way they do. For example, if he was into cars, he'd want to know why gas makes the engine go. How big is the small spark the spark plugs make, and can it make the car explode? Or why does pushing the gas pedal make the car go faster?

He's a great little guy and the best thing about him is that he's original. He doesn't follow what everyone else says, he just does his own thing. I don't want to squash that. But how do I help him get through school without being the kid that everyone else shoves into lockers? We handled the sticker incident by talking to his teacher (who is wonderful!) and she talked with the boys who were teasing him and made them apologize, then she talked with the entire class about teasing and why it was wrong.

As for the bus, we'll be talking to the bus driver and then making a trip to the kid's house and talking with his parents. This isn't the first time one of the older kids has acted like this and let me tell you, having Steve show up at their house and talk to their parents worked wonders.

Zach came home feeling great, and isn't really worried about it right now. But I still am. Right now he loves school. I don't want that to change. I want him to be able to pick the pink sticker if he wants to. Why is that such a big issue? With both Zach and Caleb, we've let them play with whatever toys they want without regard to gender. If they want a pink princess sticker, that's fine. If they want a sticker with a bulldozer on it, that's fine too. Sometimes they pick the pink sticker, sometimes it's the bulldozer. Neither of them had the notion that boys shouldn't pick "girly" stuff. That is until now, when they started hearing it from other kids.

So I'm conflicted. I don't want my wonderful, unique son to change to fit in with everyone else, but I don't want him to suffer through school either. Maybe I'm making too big of an issue about it, but I'm looking ahead to Middle School & High School, and it worries me.

There just really doesn't seem to be any good options when it comes to stuff like this. Send him to private school? Great if you have the money, but from everyone I've talked to who went to a private school, the bullying is just as bad, if not worse (especially at the all boys schools.) Home School? What about socializing with other kids (I mean kids who don't care what kind of stickers he picks.)

Everything is okay now, and Zach is fine. It's later I'm concerned about. When a talk from the teacher won't stop things.