this is how we do it

Yesterday was not my best day.

It started when Mark dropped Jafta off at school. He’s been complaining about one of his classmates being mean to him. He comes home talking about it quite a bit – saying that he’s getting hit and kicked and made fun of. Jafta can be dramatic and overly sensitive, and he can also be antagonistic, so we weren’t sure how much of this to believe. We talked to the teacher about it, and she basically indicated that this boy acts this way towards everyone, has discipline issues, etc. But when Mark dropped him off he stood and observed. He watched Jafta walk out to the playground, and then watched this little boy run up and slug Jafta in the stomach. And then he watched Jafta walk away dejected and play by himself. We have parent-teacher conferences coming up, and I know I need to address how they are handling this. We also need to have some big talks with Jafta about being more assertive without being aggressive. Not sure how to do that.

As we were discussing this at lunch, India chimed in with some news of her own. Some girls in her class have been saying that India isn’t really Kembe’s sister. So, in addition to the bullying, I get to bring up this issue in the parent teacher conference. I don’t want to be the problematic mom. But I also need to communicate that the kids in her class might need some sensitivity training. Not sure how to do that.

And Kembe. My dear 3-year-old who is still adjusting to life with our family. It really is two steps forward, one step back with him. Only some days, more like five steps back. His personality the polar opposite of Jafta – assertive and aggressive and parental, even with me. I am struggling with patience, especially with his attitude. Sometimes he is cute and darling, other times he just plain yells at me. He scolds me, rolls his eyes at me, bosses me around, and otherwise acts as if I am a child and he is the parent. It is a difficult dynamic. I need to figure out how to teach him to respect me, without having him be in trouble all the livelong day. Because today, based on his behavior, he could have been in one long time-out pretty much the entire day. Not sure how to do that.

It was a depressing day. But after dinner, we turned on some old hip-hop and had a little dance party in the kitchen. We know how to do that.


  1. "Not sure how to do that" is the refrain of motherhood, I think.

    "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally without reproach, and it will be given to him." That's all the advice I have for ya. :)

  2. I feel really silly saying this, but I'm going to anyway... did you see Dr. Phil yesterday? The whole episode was about bullying. It really can become a serious issue, no matter what age. I'm saying a prayer for your family.

    And hey, when you've got this all figured out go ahead and share the solutions with the rest of us, would you? :)

  3. You are doing the right thing by talking with the teacher about this behaviour, and the school should NOT allow for this behaviour to go on. stand firm on this sweety. If this boy is acting like this towards other children than he perhaps should not be allowed in the school..sounds kind of mean but in a private school this would not be acceptable. I understand about children being mean towards another at times, but hitting is not allowed...period !!!!! I will pray for you :)

  4. That video was so cute! Nothing like a little dance party to forget the troubles for a few minutes and just have some fun!

  5. Happy family time is wonderful. It is a bit strange that the video is accompanied by an ad that says "Flirt now", search 50 million singles on zoosk, and has 3 pics of well-endowed ladies. Not sure if you knew.

    btw, be careful of family pics on web, see *katie did*.

    I enjoy your site, only write bc I care and worry.

  6. I just wrote this loooonnng reply and it wouldn't post.
    So here goes, much shortened version:
    I think you can help your eldest through a bit of roleplaying, or having him write books with you about bullying where he alters the endings based on choices for how to respond. And this isn't a public-vs-private school issue. I've taught at both and have had more serious issues at private than public and even worse dealing with parents accepting that "their" child could behave this way...
    as for the sibling comment, that's just sad, and I'm sorry. I hope you're just able to continiously reaffirm to your children that they're siblings no matter what.
    With your little guy, it sounds like it may just be his personality. Not okay or fun, but through your consistent love and guidance things will smooth out. I have one of these lovely assertive verbal children myself and I feel that on days where he's really trying to be in charge I need to offer him as many choices as possible so that he feels like he has a voice and isn't just being "parented at" all the time.
    Have you read "Playful Parenting"? That book really helped me see how often the misbehaviors are just from feeling isolated and or frustrated, therefor helping to reduce those two feelings or through discussing them things often improve.
    Sorry, for again being longwinded. I think you're a great parent and always appreciate your posts. hope this weekend and next week go well.

  7. Thank you for your honesty about all of these issues. As a former elementary school teacher I would say that you are NOT going to be the problem parent for standing up for the rights and emotional well being of your children. If someone percieves you that way, that's on them, not you. Please do address these issues at the school ASAP. In fact, with the hitting and kicking thing I'd address them now, not waiting for the conference. If this kid is just running up and slugging your child unprovoked then that needs to be stopped right away. From the teacher's perspective, this may be very difficult to address on her own, since she has a whole classroom of children to look after and probably isn't always with them (such as at lunch, recess, music, art, PE, etc. where they may be supervised by other staff.) I'd say go right back to talking to her, letting her know that if it happens again you'd like to set up a meeting with the principal to see how this can be dealt with... making sure that everyone involved knows that you are not questioning the judgement of the teacher or her abilities but that if this kid is like this to everyone then it would be in the best interest of everyone to have as much school staff on board as possible to monitor the situation.
    As for the thing about not being "real" siblings, I'm an adoptive mom in a multiracial family myself. My daughter is an only child so we don't deal with the sibling thing, but we have had a couple of rude comments from adults so I know how hurtful that can be. Have you considered asking your daughter if she'd like you to come into her class and maybe read a couple of books about adoption and field questions from the class? A lot of times I think kids make comments out of lack of understanding more so than trying to be hurtful. Adoption can be portrayed in non-helpful way even in some books and media, where telling someone they're adopted is an insult, not something literal. I know I have seen picture books that address the very issue of kids in adoptive families truely being siblings. Perhaps that would be a non-threatening way to increase understanding in her classroom and I can't think of a teacher I've ever met who wouldn't welcome a parent with specific knowledge in a subject coming to talk with the kids. You'd probably want to ask your daughter her opinion first, though, as for some kids this might feel helpful and others might feel made to stick out more. I hope some of that helps. I think you're doing the right thing helping out your kiddos at school.

  8. Definitely talk to the teacher.

    I'm a teacher and I'd want parents to talk to me if they were worried. Even if you need to go two or three times. They'll get the point. Sometimes the teacher doesn't realize what is actually going on.

    With Jafta, I would go to the teacher, reiterate your past discussion and then explain that right after your discussion you saw the boy. Yes, there are kids that have huge discipline issues. But it doesn't mean they can go out and slug anyone they want and get away with it. Your boy needs to feel safe on the playground. And he needs to tell his teacher when he gets slugged so that she can react appropriately. This doesn't mean that the boy's behaviour will be corrected, but it does mean that there will be plan of action when something like this happens.

    When you talk to the teacher, approach it as "we need to make a plan together because right now this isn't working for our boy."

    Hope that helps.

    Yes, what other people mentioned- role playing will be good for Jafta. Teach his to speak with authority in his voice (loud and strong) when he stands up for himself. And how to seek help afterwards.


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