“I don’t want to be a distraction to the other kids”
That was what I was told. It was a week ago today that I attended back to school night at Munch’s new school. I had asked his main teacher to show me his desk. He took me to the back of the room to the last desk in the corner. He saw the concern on my face. He responded immediately “Ms. Thomas, he chose this desk. I asked him why he chose this desk and he said that he doesn’t want to be a distraction to the other kids.”
I had a mini meltdown. Fear was gripping me and rising up like a fire in the pit of my bell. I tried not to cry. I’m not going to shed tears right here in front of everybody. I’m going to be strong. I sighed. I pushed that fear down and began to explain…
“Munch is a very shy and sensitive young man. Until he gets to know people. He’s brilliant. He can recall what you’re saying, but he will tap his feet, his fingers or sing out loud whenever he feels like it. Usually when he’s not engaged. He doesn’t mean any harm and the kids at his last school said that he was distracting them.”
He smiled and responded “Okay, he will be fine. I know he’s new here and shy and I will look out for him. I know how kids can be.” I smiled. Sort of smiled. He sensed my hesitation and said, “Mom, I got him. I’ll look out for him.” He explained that the counselor wants to meet and have lunch with him. He said that she has lunch with all the new incoming students.
I smiled a genuine smile this time. Maybe because I felt that my son had an advocate. Someone who knew how it was to be at a new school and be shy and sensitive. Someone who could sense that my son has felt the harshness of the educational system and knows that his behavior is sometimes distracting.
I was comforted by his teacher’s words. I was hurt that my baby felt that he was a distraction to anyone. Much less to other children. He’s brilliant. He’s bored easily. He’s allowed to express himself. We welcome that.
Every day I asked how was his day and he would say “Okay mommy, but no one wants to be my friend.” I would explain that friendships take time to develop. But, he didn’t tell me about his seat selection and I began to wonder what else was he not telling me.
I didn’t have to wonder too long. I came home that night and Munch met me in the kitchen with hugs and kisses. I told him that I went to Back to School Night and I had met some of his teachers and they seemed nice. I explained how his main teacher told me that the counselor wants to meet him and have lunch with him.
He responded that he had already met her. He said that he met her because another boy had said something malicious about his stomach. He said that he told an adult and they were taken to the counselor. He said that she was very nice and told the boy that what he did was wrong and bullying. She said that if he did it again, he would be out of class for a couple of days.
I said, “That’s good Munch. What did you think of her?” He responded that “She was very nice and he liked her.” I just listened. He then began to tell me how the same little girl that lied on him last week on the school bus was saying that he was calling her names again today on the school bus.
What? “Okay, Munch I will call the bus drivers supervisor in the morning and get this straight. You just keep being a good person and being kind to everyone. We will pray for them tonight” I responded. He said, “Okay”.
I took him upstairs and made him shower so he can get in the bed. I still had to call his dad and let him know what was going on but that fear that I had suppressed during the meeting with his teacher was bubbling. I was scared that my son was being bullied. On the school bus. At his new school.
While Munch was in the shower, I washed his back and he began to cry. I asked “Munch, what’s wrong baby. What’s the matter?” He responded “Mommy, I knew the kids at this new school weren’t going to be nice to me, but I never expected the adults to be mean to me too.”
“What adults are mean to you son?” I asked. He responded ” The vice principal yelled at me today. She told me to sit down but I didn’t see the seat. She said it’s right there. There are only three adults in that whole school that are nice to me.” I asked him ” Which three adults baby? He responded “The principal, my teacher and the guidance counselor.” He sobbed loudly.
The fear spilled over. With tears dripping down my face I held my son. I reassured him the best way that I could that I would find out what’s going on. I told him that I love him. That I will always be here for him. I needed him to know that I was going to fight for him.