What I wanted to say:
"Lady, your punk second grader punched my sweet little kindergartener on the bus today. I took care of business and got in his face and told him to keep his filthy hands to himself. If he so much as breathes on my son again I will personally show him what it feels like to be punched by someone bigger than him!!!"
What I really said:
"Hi Jane. This is Laurie from down the street. How are you? I just wanted to take a second of your time to let you know that James punched my six year old Rufus in the back while on the bus ride today. Oh, yes he is fine, no lasting injuries. I spoke to James at the bus stop and told him that what he did is not okay and he needs to keep his hands to himself and treat others like he wants to be treated... so I was hoping that you could reinforce that at home."
I'm really learning that it takes guts to make people, both children and their parents, accountable for their behavior. It would have been easier to comfort Rufus and talk to only him about how wrong the boy on the bus was. It would have been much more simple for me to give him a hug and tell Rufus that he should simply learn from others how NOT to behave.
I hate conflict. I
try to run from it. It gives me a 20 pound weight in my stomach, shaky appendages, and occasionally shingles. But I (thanks to my husband's support and encouragement) am not going to let life happen to my boys.
I don't mean that I'm going to protect them from all harm. I'm not going to drive Rufus to school every day because he got punched on the bus.
But, I can't teach them that they are accountable for their behavior and not hold others accountable for theirs. It wasn't comfortable for me to call this little boy's mom and tell her what her son did. But I think the phone call accomplished two things:
1. My kids know I'm on their side and I will do the tough stuff for them. If they need me, I'm there.
2. They know that accountability is consistent. They are accountable for their behavior because their parents will follow through.
Lastly, this book made a lasting impression on me that it all needs to be done in love. Rather than avoiding this boy and labeling him as a troublemaker, I made a point of telling him and his mom that we really want to develop a friendship with him and have him over to play.
There are reasons in his life why he did what he did, and the truth is that he needs kids to see the good in him. He needs adults to shower him with love and attention and invest in him.
even though I really wanted to throttle him I plan to do just that.