Thursday, April 10, 2008

While I was out

A few weeks ago, we had an "incident".

To back up a little, Mina has a classmate that, from the time he joined their class late in the year, took a liking to her.

At first, she came home and told me that he always insisted on sitting next to her at lunch. They aren't allowed to tell anyone that they can't sit with them at her school (a good rule, in my opinion), so I told her to try and sit between her friends if she didn't want to sit next to him.

Next she came home and told me that he put his arm around her and called her "his woman". Yes, this is a kindergartener we're talking about. She said it bugged her, but she would tell him to leave her alone.

A few weeks later, he smacked her butt. Again, she assured me that she would tell him in no uncertain terms that he needs to leave her alone.

I asked her if she told a teacher or if a teacher saw this happen, and she said no to both.

I also asked her if she wanted me to talk to her teacher. She said she would handle it.

If you don't know Mina, let me assure you that she is no wall flower. The girl knows how to speak her mind. I trusted her when she told me that I didn't need to step in.

Then, a few weeks ago Mina and I were driving to a dinner out. She had earned a free pizza through the Book-It program, and I thought it would be nice if I took just her to celebrate her accomplishment.

On the way there, we were just chatting about nothing when she said, "Mama, during resting time at school, Eric hit me in the (private) parts."

All at once, I felt my face go hot and my heart sink into my stomach. A million things raced through my mind and I had to concentrate on driving like I've never had to before.

I again asked her if she told the teacher, and again she didn't say anything.

Then she said, "Don't worry Mama. He's my problem."

And that's when I felt like throwing up in my lap.

I turned around and told her that I was now his problem.

I wanted to storm the castle the next morning, but instead wrote an email to her teacher and principal. They got back to me almost immediately. I knew they would. I also knew that if I went there in person to discuss it I would have gotten overly emotional and that wasn't going to solve anything.

I won't go into the whole spiel of how they handled it, but they handled it to my approval. I was pretty impressed with how quickly they took care of the matter. They took my concerns very very seriously and it was dealt with immediately.

Since then I've come to find out that Eric has a less-than-favorable home life. Really, I already knew that from his behavior. It doesn't take a psychologist to figure that one out.

Yesterday when I walked Mina into school, Eric was already lined up. He started talking to me about how tomorrow was his last day. He was going to "bring in cupcakes and suckers and balloons and candy" for everyone.

I asked him if he was moving away and he told me that he was going to live in Chicago with his grandparents.

I didn't ask him why, but he was more than willing to share the reason: "Carol yells at me too much."

He told me Carol was his foster mom.

His foster mom yells at him too much, so now he is being uprooted to a whole other life to live with grandparents who, for whatever reason, didn't have him living with them in the first place.

I was never angry with Eric for what he did. I knew in my heart that he was only acting out. I hate that my kid was the target of his misguided affection. I hate that this kid may fall between the cracks in the Chicago Public School system, may grow up angry and lonely from being shuffled around in his formative years.

I don't know most of this kid's story, and I kind of wish I did. I feel for the little guy.

Never would I put anyone before my own children, but I still feel like he deserves what every kid deserves: a loving home to live in and people who care about him.

As for Mina, she seems just fine. Every once in a while Jim or I will ask her if anyone "bothered" her at school today. Aside from the usual mean older kids on the playground saying stupid shit to the little kids, she's fine.

Eric brought in cookies and juice today. Eric told Mina that that's all Carol would let him bring.

Not that that's nothing, but I could see how excited he was to tell me about his big plans for today. I know. I'm being melodramatic. I've become quite a softy in my old age.

Bottom line is, someone failed him. I hope his grandparents can pick up the slack.


Meredith said...

i feel bad for the boy too. :(

Mrs. F said...

Sounds like you handled that really well. Poor kid.
Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for Mina, too, but she comes from strong parents who love her (from what I have read), and she seems like a strong little girl.

Earth Muffin said...

I feel for him too. I've seen more of this kind of thing than I care to remember. Poor kid. I hope this move is a fresh, positive start for him.

Kudos to you for giving Mina a chance to handle it on her own, and for letting her know when it was time for you to step in. And kudos to the school staff for handling it in a swift and appropriate way.

What a lovely example of turning a negative situation into a positive learning experience!

SkylersDad said...

I think you and Mina handled that just great! I am sorry she had to go through that, and I feel for the young boy also.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Holy crap, I feel for that kid. I nearly was that kid, except I was too shy to hit other kids.

Bubs said...

It sounds like you're doing a great job raising a strong daughter. That's quite a task.

It's sad, listening to your story about the little boy. Having worked around this, I'm reading volumes between the lines of what he's said and what you know about his life.

He'll be providing job security to a juvenile officer within the next 10 years, and then undoubtedly he'll provide job security to some cop a few years after that. And then the kids he has will provide the same for groups of social workers who haven't even made it to school yet themselves.

jimmycity said...

Man, that tugs on the old heartstrings, huh?

Thank you for sharing. I love that you are a protective mother, yet have compassion and empathy for those beyond your own blood.

I wish Eric well.

Jewgirl said...

I think your feelings on the matter are quite appropriate. How can you not feel bad for the kid? It's such a shame to know that he might be speeding towards a warped teen life and adulthood.

Every kid should be raised in a loving home and it's sad that so many come into this world growing up in unsavory circumstances.

Thank God Mina is okay.

You're a great ma.

Coaster Punchman said...

That is a really sad story. Mina also sounds quite advanced for her age. I think I was still drooling when I was in kindergarten.

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