Thursday, February 24, 2011

"I Don't Know"

This is the G phrase of her life despite my wishes. She uses this phrase when she fears that whatever she really does know or feel might not align with what I do or do not know or feel. She uses this when she wishes to gauge how her response might make someone look at her. She uses it when she is being obstinate and intentionally unhelpful to me. She uses it when she really doesn't know something. She uses it to protect herself from some unknown. Sometimes it is hard for me to know what use she is placing on this phrase at any given time. Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.

The past few days have been difficult due to an few incidents at school when taken alone may not be anything but because of the consistency it is a big deal. There is a little boy sitting right across the table from G who for some reason has taken it upon himself to remind G that her family isn't real, that she talks like a baby, tells her she is cheating off of him when she tries hard not to look at him, threatens her with telling on her for looking at him, telling her she is more mixed than himself and calls her "baby head" when she looks at him. Never mind that he is right across the table from her and anytime she looks up he is in her line of sight. This has been happening since the day she was moved to sit across from him sometime before Christmas.

G tends to believe about herself the stuff he tells her because "he says it in such an angry and serious voice" her words. She will not tell the teacher when she is abused in this way. And yes it is abuse not children being children. And it has been effecting my child deeply. She has in turn said the same things to me in anger that this child has said to her not in demonstration but in acting out against me. So the "baby head" comment was the last straw for me to hear prompting a letter to the teacher asking for a phone call and explaining what was going on, reminding her about my child who will not tattle tell even if she is being hurt, and asking her to intervene by either moving the kid or doing something to stop it. Now all along I have encouraged G to tell on the boy and to stop talking to him all together. I try to get her to just ignore him. Sitting across the table doesn't aid in ignoring.

Last night I asked G what the teacher said/did. I got a brief note from the teacher saying it was handled (no phone call) but not how it was handled. The boy told G he couldn't talk to her anymore (which is fine by me) I have to assume because the teacher told him so. G said the boy wasn't moved nor was G. But I really have no idea what happened because of G's phrase, "I don't know."

The only thing I could get out of her last night after an hour with her response being "I don't know" (see above); finally, she told me the teacher called her out into the hall (for privacy) but G felt like she was getting trouble. Therefore, she wouldn't say anything other than the boy called her names. Because G felt she was getting in trouble by the teacher she wouldn't share with the teacher any specifics nor with me anything other than "I don't know." I warned the teacher about G believing she would get in trouble without a clear explanation that she wasn't. The teacher did not emphasize to G that she wasn't in trouble so G clammed up.

You know, this is why she is in karate. This is why, so she doesn't have to fight but can stick up for herself. She told me she can only stick up for herself when she is alone not with other kids. I don't want to raise a victim! I know she is stronger than that but honestly I am at a loss on how to make her see the need to stick up for herself. Then I feel so guilty because I wonder what I have done to reinforce this.

G told me that one afternoon, a different little boy on the bus threatened that he would tell the teacher on her if she didn't tell him her whole name after which he made fun of her name. I said, "Why did you tell him? It isn't any of his business. Your name is your name and you don't have to share if you don't want to." She doesn't know who the boy is by the way, but the threat of being told on was enough for her to do something she didn't want or need to do.

See why I am so concerned? If a threat of being told on will cause her to do something she doesn't want or need to do, she is the child trouble is looking for.

We read the book "When You Were Born in China" last night (not for the first time). After reading it I asked her what she thought about it. "I don't know" was her response. I told her that I thought it was sad, and it made me feel sad then she agreed with me that she thought it was sad too. While we were reading it G said, "I was probably the fourth or third child of my mama." So she wasn't afraid to discuss the book or parts of it. When she is asked something the answer is "I don't know."

I can't ban the phrase, "I don't know" from our house. Sometimes G opens up and shares with me but usually way after the fact possibly after she has attempted to process it herself. Sometimes by then it is too little too late for me to intervene. Lots of praying over her is going on right now.


Kikilia said...

I had something similar happen at school with the Pipsqueak last year.... A bully kept asking her why her "real" family didn't want her, etc.

I called the teacher right away and told her what was going on. The teacher is also an adoptive mom and made sure it was stopped.

She even went as far as to change line order- the bully and my daughter are next to eachother alphabetically. Also- she made sure they were placed in different classes this year (grade 4).

The Pipsqueak has a hard time standing up for herself too- it's a concern- but we're working on it.

I would phone the teacher and ask exactly what she did- and reiterate that what she did with G in the hallway was a moot point because G felt like she was in trouble.

Also- let her know if the bullying doesn't stop - you will be going to the principal. Bullying is BIG in school now and this kid could be in huge trouble.

Seems like the teacher let a teaching moment slip through the window too- as she could have easily done a 1st grade lesson on how "all families are different".

Sorry for rambling- but as a fellow educator- I'm mad at the way it was handled. Is the teacher young?

Steph B said...

I don't think the teacher just telling this boy to not speak to G is very effective. It would be nice if you could know directly from the teacher how she's really trying to handle it.

Last year, on the very first day of school, I overhead another boy at my son's table telling him he was "not very smart" because he didn't know something the boy was asking him. I watched all the happiness and excitement of the first day of school completely drain from my son's face, and I was crushed on his behalf.

I knew the teacher from the year before when my older son had been in her class, and emailed her about what happened. She talked directly to the boy, explaining that we all have different experiences and may know different things, but that doesn't make someone smarter than someone else. Then she spoke with the entire class about speaking kindly, etc.

I can't see how just telling one child to not talk to another child really addresses anything at all. I hope you're able to get a better feel for this situation. I feel so badly for G, and for you.

Kimmie said...

I don't know and not sticking up for herself are common themes around here, too. The same is true with a couple of other friends with similar histories. I don't think it's something you're doing or not doing. I think there's an inherent need to be the perfect child going on in our girls - i.e. opinions must match that of primary caregiver, conflict is to be avoided at all times even if it means getting bullied, fear of being blamed for any and everything even when that fear seems irrational to us, etc. If you figure this one out, let me know. Meanwhile, know that you two are not alone in this. Hope that bully leaves G alone! S is going to try Karate soon.

Michelle said...

She is a child. Please please please meet with the teacher and do something about it. **Demand** that she does something about it, and follow up. You are your child's best advocate. I have learned that that is one of my most important jobs as a parent.

The Byrd's Nest said...

Ugh...this makes me SO ANGRY! I understand harmless questions that children may ask our adopted children but this is out right bullying! I am praying for her Bev...poor little thing. Because if one thinks he can do it and gets away with it and others think it is funny than they will follow. My Elisabeth was tormented all through middle school and high school. Seriously...gets my Momma feathers ruffled. I love you and I am praying!