Kids are brutal …

I am not sure if when you think back to being at school they are happy thoughts, or you are possibly gripped by a sense of nausea as you reminisce over how mean and cruel kids were.

School is like a dirty petri dish of social pressure, with you having a bad-hair-year, buck teeth, braces if you were super unfortunately, and a combination of gangly limbs with bad skin.

To fit in to the “social structure” that exists at a school is brutal.

I would not wish it on anyone, and unfortunately I drop my kids off at school each day to go through it.  I am scared of high school for my kids, and they are years away from it – but primary and pre-school are bad enough.

I often get stories about who was mean to whom, who was horrible, who called one of them names and so on.  Some times my kids are really upset.  Often it makes me want to turn the car around, drive back to school, find the little sh&t and smack them against the side of the head.

I have twice phoned parents of kids that my son has had an issue with, and generally my experience has been, it has not really made a huge difference.

I have realised that it is rather naive to think all kids are going to like my kids, and really my kids do not have to like every one else.

As long as they do not beat the crap out of other kids, and visa versa, then that is the best I can hope for.  I can’t hope for anything more in the world that is the Nirvana of schools.

Kids are brutally honest, and really horrible little people, who say really mean things, and are too small to box in the face.

They say mean things to each other and hurt each other’s feelings.  This goes on all day, and sooner or later someone says something mean to your child and then your child is crying to you about how “everyone is mean to them….”  and you are going to feel like a dagger has been plunged in to your chest, and your “I am the lioness and I will defend my child” moment will happen to you.

I was lucky enough to have older brothers at the schools I went to (barring the Girls’ School) and they helped to pave the way for me arriving.

There is something “safe” about arriving in a school if you have had a sibling there already.  For one you know a few older kids, and you always have a posse in the event someone bullies you, and you have established “street cred” to a degree.

Well, that has been my experience.

Someone recently had a conversation with me about how they were feeling anxious about their child, who is considered “mixed race” and how this child will be accepted at school – and how they will be picked on and what they should do.

Honestly I have no idea.

I think the “trick” might be to give your child a safe home and a good grounding, that they know who they are, but we aware to teach them to bestreet wise and judge a situation for what it is – rather than what they think it is.

Tell them at home they are beautiful and clever, so they believe it, and have enough of the positive vibe before they get to school and get the snot kicked out of them.

After that there is really nothing you can do.

Kids are mean and really cruel.  If you have anything different about you, kids pick up on it and use it as the point to pick on you.

It is lovely to have a quirky child, but I like to try to aim my kids into the main stream centre – for their own protection.  They can be all quirky and skew eyes in the privacy of their home, but when they go into the “gladiator pit that is school” then I need them not to spread blood in the water to attract the sharks.

Connor is blonde.  Connor has blue eyes.  Connor is an attractive child, and does not have a third arm, or an eye in the middle of his forehead.

Connor does not really have a personal hygiene issue (more than any 10-year-old boy).  He is friendly, well liked, and has a good gaggle of friends.  Connor is pretty main stream as kids go  – so he just fits in.

Connor gets picked on because he has freckles.  That is what the kids decide to make fun of him about, and call him names, and that is what he comes home crying about.

I think my point is that no matter who you are, or what you look like, you will get picked on sooner or later.

Your child as well!!  So brace yourself for it.

The importance of keeping your nose clean ….

I appreciate that I worry about things that other moms probably have not even thought about.  It is part of my rather quaint/annoying personality make-up.

I am a natural worrier and, I find tremendous comfort when I can find something to fret about.

If I am not worrying, then I worry because I think I am missing something and not worrying sufficiently.  Instinctively I go and look for the thing to worry about and then take comfort in the worry as I now have my thing.

Listen, I totally understand how ludicrous this sounds, but this is my reality.

Sidebar:  Connor had huge ENT issues as a baby/toddler.  If there was an operation or something to be done around ENT, we have done them or done a course of treatment.  Me and the ENT doctor were tight.  Connor still has a tendency to have a nose bleed on most days – it sometimes gushes and scares the crap out of onlookers.  He also tends to often have a gummy nose that needs to be cleaned out rather than just wiped.

The morning routine for Connor, besides the getting dressed and eating breakfast is – brush hair, brush teeth, clean out nose, get school bag and get into the car.

I often realise when we get in the car that one of the above has been missed.

This morning I called for a quick check before I left the house and realized he still had a rather unattractive nose thing going on.

He said he had done it. I argued as the evidence showed otherwise.

I took him to the bathroom and did it for him, explaining that doing it was not enough, he had to do it properly.  I got annoyed that he did not do it, and got further annoyed that he did not realise the implication if he continued to go to school with his nose looking like it does.

We got into the car for a school drive and I thought I would share my concerns with him.

I also do realise that sometimes I am a bit “heavy” for my eight year old, but I prefer to err on the side of caution with him.

I explained to Connor that school is actually a really difficult place, and gets more difficult as the years roll on.

(I do take cognizance that Connor in general is a good looking kid.  He is tall, blonde, blue eyed and has attractive features – so nothing in his outer countenance creates any ridicule for him.  He is very friendly and has a good social network, so with that in mind he is not starting off too badly.  He is friends with the big kid, the small kid and all the kids in between.)

Kids are cruel by nature – and will gang up against someone they assume to be weak, or if “that” child has something wrong/different about them.  Especially if “that” child is drawing attention to themselves in a negative manner or even in a positive manner, that somehow erks the group.

On my explaination, Connor said: “Like a weak animal in a herd?”

Me: “Yes exactly like that…”

I continued to exlain that kids, by nature, will band together against a kid who is “different” or “has something that the group perceives is wrong/different about them.”

Kids will often form a bully group, which will push “that” child out of the group – sometimes the entire group will participate, or it might be one or two bullies.  But the group will often quietly stand by and not defend “that” child.

In theory the group will leave “that” child on the outskirts where he will then be an outsider.  He risks being further bullied because now he will be perceived as weak or an outcast, by passing bullies.

I did say that though Connor’s school is really good at kerbing bully behavior and in general the kids are nice, but he must be aware that bullying does occur.

It happens quickly and can go on far after the “thing” kids are picking on has been stopped or has gone away.  That stigma – will follow “that” child for years and make their life more difficult than it already is.

Connor cannot control what another child does, but he can control what he does and how he contributes to a situation.

I stressed that I never want to hear that he is a bully or that he is being mean to another child.  But I did say that he needs to be protect himself that he does not become the target of a bully or the group.

If he has a runny gummy nose, does he not think that sooner or later someone is going to turn around and say something mean?  Then if one person says something mean, then another person may say something mean.  Then the next thing he may be sitting with a crowd of bullies who are picking on him for something he cannot control.

I reiterated that he really cannot control what they do – but what he can control, is that he goes to the bathroom in the morning and makes sure he cleans out his nose.  Then at least twice during school he goes to the bathroom and does the same.

I tried to make my point by saying: “Please do not give bullies a reason to pick on you!”

I realise I might be acting a little bit over zealous in this regard, but I remember how bad school was.

It was really sh*t for kids who did not fall into the mainstream pile and who had anything wrong/different about them.  There was always one kid per class who was the butt of every joke and who was always ridiculed.

I do not want Connor to be “that” kid.

I do not want it to be your kid either – but my control can solely relate to my kid and what he does.  If I can keep him from being “that kid” well then I am going to start doing it now, and it might just be something as small as him having a gummy nose.

“That” kid always exists, and I cannot remember one year of school where there was not a child who got picked on.

Fortunately I was never “that” kid either.  I gave daily thanks that it was not me who was having to come to school each day, and have my life further complicated because I was the butt of the job or the runt of the class.

Connor watches National Geographic and it is easy to explain “pack mentality” to him as he sees it in wild life on the shows that he watches.

It is not a foreign concept as it happens in nature – naturally, but clearly with dire side effects.

Today I used the example of a wounded buffalo in a herd – the herd will start to ostracize the buffalo because it is slowing them down, or drawing attention to them as they try to move past a group of predators.

The herd will slowly push the wounded buffalo to the outskirts of the herd, making it harder for the sick buffalo to keep up with the herd.  Sooner or later the lion/bully is going to come along and start to look at the herd and go “well, who is easy pickings here” and who do you think they will pick?

Probably not the buffalo who is running in the pack – it will probably be the sick/ostracized buffalo is probably going to be the one who is taken.

I realise I may be offending many by trying to keep my son safe and telling him to just blend into the herd.

I do want my child to stand out for things and be unique – but he needs to first learn how to run with the pack first and understand and appreciate the workings of a herd – let’s call it social EQ for argument sake.

Once he has figured out those dynamics then he can start to stretch his “uniqueness” to run ahead or stand out.

Today he needs to just get the crap off his nose …..