It was 8:30am on Thursday.  I was finishing in the shower after staying in bed an extra 2hrs to make up for going to bed at 3am after a black tie holiday party with 1400 lawyers or lawyers’ spouses/partners/dates.  Everyone else in the house was gone–my bride was driving the younger 2 to their preschools–so when the home phone rang, I girded my loins in the nearest towel  and slogged across the bathroom and bedroom to look at the damned phone.  It was Maddie’s school.  I answered.

Maddie wasn’t hurt.  She was in trouble.

Her assistant principal said something about a pushing incident and then reminded me of a hitting incident from last month and another incident at recess and…was there a man outside reaching for the hide-a-key?  The assistant principal continued talking as I watched the man come into the back door and heard footsteps heading down the hall toward our room.

I ran into our bathroom, holding my cell in my left hand and the home phone in my right–still dripping wet in a towel–while the phrase “in school suspension” was uttered, followed by a question about Maddie’s behavior at home when I finally interrupted her:

Me:  “I’m sorry, but I really can’t talk right now.  I’m in a towel after leaving the shower to answer the phone, and some dude is in my house whom I don’t know, and my wife is calling my cell.  I need you to call her, as I can’t answer your questions anyway.  Her number is…”

I rattled off the 10 digits, hung up, and looked out the bathroom window at the white Ford Festiva parked in the driveway.  Wait.  Was there writing on the windshield?  Was today Thursday?

I stuck my head out the bathroom door and greeted the husband from the husband/wife team who has cleaned our house every other week for the past five years or so.  His name’s Rodrigo, I think.  I felt like a pussy.

I dried off, dressed, boiled some eggs, and packed a lunch.  By that time, I figured enough time had passed that I could call my bride and get debriefed (I’d texted “Maddie in trouble at school.  Call from ass.principal forthcoming” after hanging up with the school).

She pulled back into the driveway a few minutes after I called.  I learned Ms Assistant Principal was not real happy with my dismissive and abrupt ending of our conversation, but more importantly, my bride was not real happy with our apparent failure to teach our little girl not to hit people who aren’t behaving well in her eyes.

My sweet little girl, despite repeated instructions regarding how to handle conflict healthily, appears to be a bully.

m on first day of school
She never had behavior issues like this in her years of Montessori preschool; it’s just begun since starting 1st grade at the local public elementary school a few months ago:  the one we moved our family of 6 last year to let her attend.

And now we have to figure out how the hell to stop it.

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  1. Parenting is really, really hard and I feel for you. Montessori has systems to handle things in certain ways and the odds are she is frustrated because the other students aren’t following these “rules”. Frustration at her age can often mean hitting because frustration is best friends with “scared because lack of rules means chaos and danger”. My eldest girl has Asperger’s and has been bullied by kids who were NOT “bad” … they just freak out when she doesn’t follow the social “rules” and want her to stop and they have limited ways they know how to “punish” people. When they got a framework of understanding about her autism, they stopped bullying and started helping her more. Good luck, and I am sure this will be resolved.

  2. I’ve never commented here before, but I’ve read your posts on and off for a few years now. I wanted to take the time to say thank you. My daughter also never had problems in pre-school or the first half year of kindergarten in our old school district.

    In January of kindergarten I was promoted which required that we move to Southern Misery. Since that time my daughter has been picked on, continuously bullied and sometimes injured while riding the bus.

    Despite our firm instructions that she is not to hit or call names, etc. Our daughter has now taken to hitting, screaming and kicking. The latest episode has resulted in one day of out of school suspension, 4 days of in school suspension. The administration does not care about the bullying that led up to this because “we haven’t caught anyone bullying her.”

    I have requested for a year and a half that she be tested for behavior disorder, autism, etc. The administration has continued to refuse to test her . My newest plan is to homeschool our daughter, she is hurt that no one likes her.

    Thank you for sharing the difficulty you are having with your child. Sometimes blogged tend to pretend that their children are perfect and if my child has problems than her home life must be to blame. Thank you for opening the door for more open communication for parents, no matter what the issue is. Perhaps we are closing the window of opportunity by which we as a community are able to alienate and ostrecize parents of children with special needs.

    • Thanks for commenting! If our child were being bullied, I’d have a hard time not telling her to defend herself. Maybe that’s old-fashioned or redneck, but my experience and observation have been that bullies will keep bothering the person who doesn’t fight back.

  3. My almost 3-year old is a bit of a hitter, and we’re working on breaking her of the habit. She doesn’t usually do it to hurt, but rather to express frustration.

    When I think about it, though, I’d probably prefer mild physical manifestations of frustrations to some other stuff. My sister was a biter. She’s turned out okay.

    Of course, today at church she also threw her shoe at my wife. So there’s that.

    Anyway, good luck. I’ll be reading to see how things go.

  4. Your girl and my girl would either be best friends, or mortal enemies. Mini-Pirate isn’t doing much pushing, but she lets anger get the best of her at school very quickly, and has been called to the mat for it more than once. Let me know if you find a solution.

  5. Not a good situation to be in. My son is not a bully, just overly bossy, according to his teacher. He wants to organize and run every activity. Just like his mom.

  6. I think the worst part of these phone calls is the sudden feeling that you might not know your kid as well as you thought. At least, that’s how I felt when we found out one kid was a biter way back in the day. I remember looking at him and thinking “how can this be??”

  7. Muskrat! Too many thoughts.

    Fear not, you are not alone on either. Two nights ago, there was a knock at the door. Halfway there, someone was trying to open my door and I had nothing near me to protect myself except for the Elf On The Shelf! It ended up being the little girls next door dropping off some cookies. Good grief.

    As for the bullying, check yourself, yes. However, keep in mind that there might be two sides. My brother’s boy had been painted the bully after three incidents involving a kid with KNOWN problems. They have a NO TOUCHING policy, but this kid has grabbed my nephew several times, ending in a puch or punch. MY nephew gets punished for it. Just sayin’.


  8. with my son, who enjoys the smacking of others . . . and taking away priviledges and trips to the principle did nothing . . . .

    they had him meet with the counselor, drew up a behavior contract (a hug contract they called it) and now he has behavioral expectations. LIKE NOT TACKLING OR SMACKING PEOPLE. then, at the end of the day, the teacher reviews how good he was at following the hug contract and assigns him a percentage.

    His daily goal is to reach 70%. He makes that most days, some days he comes home with 80-90%. It’s better this way, to tell my son WHAT TO DO then WHAT NOT TO DO. Anyway, after a week of reaching his goal, he gets a prize. It has stopped the behaviors and the phone calls from the principle!! 🙂 good luck 🙂

    • Thanks for this suggestion…we have to get it to quit while she’s in 1st grade, of course, or else it may keep her from other educational opportunities down the road, I fear.

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