“My son has been called a ‘grumpy old man’ in jest, which upset him greatly. Clearly the kid who called him that hadn’t met his dad or grandad yet! ” writes “Mummy” columnist KATE MEIKLE.
MY sensitive son has been known to come home from primary school and have a big old cry. I can relate as I have done that many times myself!
He’ll whisper to me that he wants a private chat and when we can, he’ll sit on my lap and tell me what’s been upsetting him.
It could range from the teacher pulling a serious face and feeling he had disappointed her, to his friends not playing with him at lunch.
One time, he told me some kids in his class pulled the chair out from under him and when he fell on his bottom, some kids laughed.
As he tells me his worries, I am transported back to my school days when the little cutting “jokes” of other kids, feeling left out, or the fear of the teacher getting angry would also make me cry sometimes.
“Hey Kate. You are pretty… ugly” was one line that cut me deeply in primary school.
All learning experiences I am sure and nothing remotely close to bullying or any of the very serious experiences we now know we need to actively address with our children and the school.
I think school today is a far more inclusive, positive and diverse environment than “back in my day” but not without its challenges as every young person finds their way, all the while growing, learning and making mistakes.
It’s not easy as a parent to release our beautiful children into the jungle of school and watch them from the sidelines as they navigate all sorts of relationships and social interactions, positive and negative.
One kid’s joke or funny line could send another kid home to have a cry at the end of the day.
My son has been called a “grumpy old man” in jest which upset him greatly. Clearly the kid who called him a grumpy old man hadn’t met his dad or grandad yet!
As a sensitive soul myself, I wondered how best to support my son. Here’s that buzz word again: Resilience… who doesn’t need more of that in today’s world?
I tried a few different tactics and advice. It wasn’t at the point where we needed to escalate to the teacher, but I wanted to give him some tools so as to not let these encounters get to him so much.
I settled on some advice that I’m not sure the parenting books would approve… “sometimes people are jerks”.
It’s just between us, I told him; he mustn’t call any children that word. But, let me bring you in on a little secret – sometimes kids can be jerks. Sometimes even your best friend can be a jerk and sometimes you will be a jerk (and, yes, occasionally your parents will be jerks).
Now we know this, we can work out if we can just “shake it off” and realise that the kid is just having a “jerk moment” or if it’s something a parent or teacher needs to know about.
He laughed and laughed when I told him my advice – it had lifted his spirits at the very least, and he was delighted to hear mummy tell him a “cheeky” word that the two of us can share when he’s feeling sad.
It got me thinking that we can extend this theory into other aspects of life. As kids or grown-ups navigating relationships, here’s a lesson in life for us all…. let’s try to not be jerks. But from time to time, we just might be.
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Ian Meikle, editor