Every school bus stop has traditions. When I was in elementary school the oldest kid at the bus stop had the right to get on the bus first. They had the right to sit in the back row of the bus. They had the right to pick the game we played as we waited for the bus to arrive. Every year the oldest batch of kids moved on to middle school, and a new crop of oldest kids anxious took reign over the bus stop.
Time has not changed this tradition. Cole’s bus stop is at the end of our street. On one corner, there are three large landscaping rocks. (I suspect the older couple that lives in the house had them place on the corner to stop people from driving through their perfectly landscaped yard). The kids at his bus stop often sit on them while they are waiting for the bus. Last year, the oldest boy at the bus stop had claimed a rock. Two other older kids also claimed the other two rocks. If they weren’t sitting on them, they were up for grabs. It’s a new school year and new rock ownership is underway. One of the older girls at the bus stop has claimed her rock this year. The other two have remained open for anyone (including this pregnant mom) to sit on.
As we waited for the bus this morning, Cole sat on one of the unclaimed rocks. The two sisters from across the street came out to wait for the bus stop. The older one claimed her rock. The younger one marched over to her sister and tried to make her move. When she didn’t she announced to everyone that she hates her sister. (The “hate” word makes me cringe. It’s not allowed in our house. I find it very disrespectful when anyone uses it. Hate is a really strong word, and I don’t think it should be used in casual conversation).
When the younger sister realized she wasn’t going to win that battle with her sister, she turned her attention to Cole. She told him to “MOVE!” When Cole didn’t move, she used all her force to shove him off of the rock. Cole flew off the rock and landed face first in the grass.
I had officially lost my mom-cool. I reminded her that “We don’t put our hands on anybody. And we most certainly do not shove anybody.” Cole, mostly shocked (and probably embarrassed), got up and walked away. He had a few small scratches on his arms and legs from the rock. He had grass stuck to his clothes and his hair. His shirt was wet from the morning dew. When I told the younger sister to apologize, she laughed. Her older sister took on the parenting role for her little sister since her parent’s were not outside. I turned my attention to Cole to make sure my child was alright. A few minutes later the bus showed up, and Cole was off to school with his head hanging low.
The bus probably showed up at the right time. I probably would have over-stepped my boundaries and disciplined the younger sister. As we walked home from the bus stop, I was furious. In what world is it ever okay to be physically aggressive to another individual? If this was an isolated incident with this neighbor, I probably wouldn’t have been so angry. It isn’t. She is a very aggressive little girl. She doesn’t have any respect for the people around her. Part of me was ready to march over to her parents’ house. Part of me was ready to pick up the phone and allow the school to intervene (The bus stop is a part of school property; therefore, the student code of conduct must be followed at the bus stop. Pushing is not okay). Part of me wanted to scoop Cole up and take him home. I didn’t do any of those things. I did go home and call the school. I asked the school secretary to let Cole’s teacher know just in case he was sad today. And I cried while talking to her like every pregnant, hormonal, don’t mess with my babies, mom should! geesh!
As a parent, I am constantly nurturing the portion of Cole that is loving and kind. Although I think he has a gentler spirit than other children (he won’t even kill a spider), I think it is my job as his parent to nurture the good in my child and teach him how to handle the not so good qualities we all have inside of us. I have tried to teach him to respect the world around him – people, animals, plants, etc. When our neighbor physically shoved Cole off the rock, I think he was more shocked that someone would do that to him then he was hurt. In his world, people don’t do that to one another. In his world, people respect each other.
I don’t want to have to teach my child that there are people who don’t respect others the same way he does. I shouldn’t have to teach him to defend himself because it isn’t who he is and it isn’t a part of his makeup. I think some people may argue that I need to teach him these things because it prepares him for the real world. This frustrates me even more than the girl who pushed Cole off of the rock. When did it become the norm to prepare ourselves and our children for a world run by bullys? When did we forget to stand true to who we are as people and not cave when we are pushed. Pushing back isn’t the solution. Pushing back validates the bully. It gives the bully purpose. I don’t want Cole to let the world walk all over him either. I want him to stay confident with who he is and the decisions that he makes.
I’m so proud of Cole for standing up and walking away. I do need to teach him to keep his head held high no matter what situation he finds himself facing. It broke my heart to see him get on the bus with his head hanging low. I most certainly will not teach my child to live his life according to bully rules. Change has to start somewhere. I believe my child is important enough to start the change with him.
“Make Peace. Not War.”
I’m fully embracing this slogan as my new parenting mantra. I will always teach Cole to find the good in everybody (including the girl who pushed him off the rock). I will always encourage Cole to invest his energy in things that produce positive outcomes. I will always encourage Cole to love the world he lives in and the people who surround him. I will always hope that Cole finds his place in this world – a place where he is happy, loved, and giving of love. I need to teach him to hold his head up high when he’s doing the right thing. I need to teach him to hold onto his happiness even when the neighborhood bully pushes him off of a rock.
I certainly do love my peace-loving, nature-saving, gentle-spirited child. I hope he never stops claiming his rock at the bus stop.