Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Emotional Conflict

Tonight is Rosh Hashana, the New Year of the Jewish calendar. With that, I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy, and sweet new year! My standard blessings of 'may the best of last year be the worst of this year' and 'an abundance of health, wealth, and happiness' all stand for this year as well!

The reason I am taking the time to write today is because yesterday, we were faced with a challenge. It is one that I had hoped to never have to deal with but, unfortunately, is not an uncommon thing when you have kids in school.

Benny rides the school bus every day, both to and from school. One of the things that made me comfortable with the idea of having him ride the bus (aside from knowing the safety stats of busses) was the reassurance from the bus company that Kindergarten kids are put on a bus with a monitor, an adult designated to keep an extra eye and make sure they sit nicely and safely, and that they are all seated up front with kids their age. After watching him walk straight to the back on the first morning, I let him know that this was the rule and that, even if the other kids his age were not listening, he needed to be sitting up front. Yesterday he got off the bus with one of the older girls from our building. He didn't look happy and she was walking toward me with him, clearly worked up, ready to tell me what happened. Apparently, Benny tried to sit himself in the front of the bus and the monitor told him to keep moving to the back. He told the monitor that his mother told him he needed to be sitting up front. She got down in his face and started yelling, "THIS IS MY BUS, NOT YOUR MOM'S, YOU BETTER SIT WHERE I TELL YOU!!!" Our neighbor told me she kept going at him. At this point, Benny was already crying. This girl interjected, telling the bus monitor that if his mother told him to do that then he needs to listen. The monitor then turned on the girl and continued yelling at the both of them. This girl pulled Benny onto her bench and started telling him jokes to help him calm down and walked off the bus with him and straight to me.

Benny looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I wasn't crying, it just LOOKED like I was! Mommy it was so RUDE! And you guys always tell me not to be rude, but she was SO rude!!"

I turned back to the bus and started calling out for them to stop, but I realized that confrontation was not the answer. I was upset and didn't want to make a scene. And the other kids on the bus would be late to get home. Instead, I called the bus company immediately and told them what had happened. They didn't know what to say to me and were extremely apologetic. I gave everyone's names (the monitor's, mine, Benny's) and all the information needed and they told me they would start an 'investigation'.

I told Benny how proud I was that he had listened to me and had spoken nicely to the monitor, even though she was being so mean to him. I also let him know that I was so proud that he came and told me everything right away and reminded him how important that is, whenever ANYTHING happens.

Walking back up to the apartment, one of the other girls in the building told me this monitor makes the little kids cry all the time and that she is really mean. Why she has been given this position of watching out for our little kids is baffling to me. Have no other parents called in to complain?

Last night, I was extremely nervous about how this morning would play out. I didn't know if they had addressed things with her yesterday, and if they had, would she then take it out on Benny this morning?

As soon as we got downstairs, Benny started freaking out that he didn't want to ride the bus and that he really just wanted me to drive him to school. He was scared that she would yell at him again and he really didn't like how she made him feel. My emotional side told me to give in and drive him without question. But the last thing I want him to think is that the best way to solve conflict is by running away. So I sat with him on the steps and talked to him about it. I explained that he still has to listen to Mommy and that hopefully the monitor would not be mean to him. I reminded him that the older kids on the bus that know him would be there to help him if he needed it and that if, for whatever reason, she did say anything not nice to him, he should go straight to his teacher and tell her what happened. {I sent her an email this morning with an FYI about what had happened, unfortunately the school uses a bus service so they would not be the people to take issues up with but I still wanted her aware.} I reminded him that the safest seat for him was in the front of the bus and we talked about which of the other kids he could possibly sit with that would make the ride more exciting. As soon as we got to the bus stop, he calmed down and was giggling and playing with his friends. I gave him a big kiss before he got on the bus and watched him. The monitor said nothing to him. He walked slowly past the first bench, stopped for a minute at the second, put his head down and walked straight to the back. His fear of her yelling made him ignore what we spoke about and choose the safer (in his mind) option.

This broke my heart.

Not because he chose not to listen to me, that is something I get plenty of practice with. Because this bully of a bus monitor just won. My five year old had such a fear of this horrible woman that he stopped to think about doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And chose the wrong thing. Even now, thinking about the little battle in his head makes me so sad. Who does this monitor think she is? Why is it just accepted that this bus monitor is mean and can take such an exciting thing for the little kids and turn it into something scary?

I went with Bella to the library afterward and asked the librarian for help. I wanted books that talked about bullying, how to deal with it, why people do it, how to help if you see your friend being bullied. I am still trying to get through to the bus company but have not been able to all day. I don't want Benny focusing on the bad, and I don't intend to keep this storm brewing. We will learn from it and we will move on.

I sincerely hope the bus company will see that it is not fair to place a bitter woman's hand as the one intended for our little kids to hold while embarking on this journey of school.

With all my best wishes, from my family to yours, may this new year only bring joyful tears and moments of pride to all you you.


Paula Rappaport said...

I was crying at the end of this because I can just picture his little face and the conflict that must have been going through his head. I sincerely hope that the bus company does something about this for you. You are an amazing mother and just keep reassuring him of the right choice. Happy and Healthy New Year to you all. Love you and miss you!

Fraydee said...

Omg I'm so angry right now. How dare she speak to a little kid like that! Now I'm really nervous about sending Andy on the bus :(

Chani M said...

He just got off the bus and said she didn't yell at him but she asked him if he remembers where he needs to sit and pointed him towards the back of the bus. And then let a different kid get off the bus without the mother being there. I'm waiting for Benny to be busy playing before I call back. I don't want him to hear what I have to say at this point, not that I'll be rude, I just don't want him repeating my words and getting in trouble!

UncleBrian said...

Ok, I'm ready to leave now and go up there to take care of this miserable woman.No one puts Benny in the corner (back???) and gets away with it!Give me the word and I'll take care of her... Right after New years Dinner. Chani, You are doing everything right. Don't give in or up! love to you all...Brian

Ta said...

Benny is the man, but this sounds like a job for Tony and Guido! Chani perhaps you should ask the Snidely Whiplash monitor the famous Goldsmith question. "Do you remember a guy named Jock Mahavalich?

Keep up your great work and I am hopeful this will be the last of Snidely Whiplash.

Dara @ Not In Jersey said...

I don't understand why the monitor wants him to sit in the back!

Chad Waldman said...

You're such wonderful parents. L'Shana Tova!

Rochel said...

Woooow. So not ok!! I'm so proud of you for letting him get back on that bus though. I don't know if I would have been able to do that.
My heart aches, I was so worried about bus bullying. I love you Chonz, you're my favorite sister!! Now and forever!