We were ill prepared, all four of us. And having skipped nursery school, completely new to all matters of school, save the years Jack and I put in thirty years ago. Falling into the routine was effortless, navigating the rough waters of a public school a bit trickier. As I have believed since the day they were born, I am here to hold their hands but the path is theirs to follow. And then Friday night, as I sat at dinner with dear friends, imploring them to contact the principal at the school where their six year old son is assigned three hours of homework each night, I realized that this is also my battle. My message, that you are the advocates for your own child, was not lost on me, it was time for me to see that something be done.
The struggle is this, just how far do I push? Which should not be a struggle at all, the cues taken from my daughter who curls up in my lap at the end of the day and says "they are teasing me again", and she cries.
It started a few months into school, with nothing said to me until one of her friends stood up to the teaser and found herself in time out. The story was then told, in bits and pieces from both girls, that for some time Mary had been the target of truly unkind words every single day from one of the boys in their class.
Immediately I emailed the teacher who was not aware, but not terribly surprised. She talked to the parents, I talked to the parents, and the situation improved, somewhat. Over thinking, but not wanting to create a bigger issue than necessary, we talked to Mary about options, all kinds of things she could say and do to diffuse the situation but in the end she chose to simply say "I don't like it when you tease me", and he backed off.
Last week I found out that he had started again, and this time with a partner. Not making fun of the little pony tail she wears in her hair or her shoes or manner of speech, they chose to go after one of the things most dear to her, her friends. Specifically, her choice to be friends with a boy, a boy they call stinky, and the chant she now hears everyday, "Mary has a boyfriend!" over and over.
She's five, full of spirit and love, with an openness that allows her to befriend anyone, a mindset lost by most in years to come, but one that should not be sacrificed in kindergarten. She has chosen her friend, and we are very proud of her. And she's not alone; we were not prepared but we are in this together, the four of us.
How much will I push? I can't even imagine.