The phone rings and you see the school number flashing at you. It’s that moment, that phone call about your child. You panic because your first reaction is it’s an emergency and something has happened. Flashes of broken bones, cut lips, blood goes through your mind. You prepare the conversation telling husband there has been an accident.
The thought of the school principal ringing you to tell you your child is in trouble is the farthest thing from your mind. But as you answer and hear their voice you suddenly get that feeling. Your stomach sinks and you think oh god, what has he done? My child! What?
Well, it is your child, they are in trouble and he hadn’t even been at school 100 days. It’s that phone call about your child. I was in shock. My boy isn’t nasty, doesn’t play rough, he isn’t loud but this time, he had done something wrong and the principal who I hadn’t even met yet is calling me. Day 84 of his first year of school. Bloody awesome. So the story goes, there is a new kid on the block that started in term 2 of the school year. My son thought it would be a brilliant idea to throw the new kids lunch across the playground on this kids’ second day at school and thought it was exceptionally funny too I might add. I was horrified, it was so out of character and here I was a novice school parent talking to the principal and needing to convince her that my boy really is a good kid.
I had never expected to get a phone call like this within the first 6 months of kindergarten. I know my child and don’t worry I am the first to admit and would admit if he was a bully or had displayed behaviour like that before.
The whole conversation was awkward and I was polite, I listened to what had happened and was interviewed on my child and had he displayed behaviour like this before. It was quite terrifying really. Here we were in our first year of school and my child was already duly noted on the black list. His behaviour would be monitored, he would be watched by the other teachers and it would be noted in his file. I panicked. What if he was going to be that little boy? What if he was changing and school was changing him? His whole world was changing and he was changing with it. Maybe I was going to be “that’ parent and he would be “that’ child. Years rushed forward to me being in the principal’s office in his teenage years for far worse behaviour again. It was leaving me highly stressed. It was a monumental moment when I realised I would be having to have that chat with him, the other mother involved and the principal.
I had never done this before, never been in this sort of situation. I was speaking to the principal and having to on the spot sound mature and responsible. Shouldn’t I have a five step program mapped out on what the ways are with dealing with a naughty child? God this parenting gig is so bloody tough!
I knew my son but no one else did and it is hard to try to tell someone it was a one-off, he was showing off, I have no doubt this won’t happen again. You feel like no one believes you. I wanted to explain that I felt he was trying to “fit in” with new friends and test the limits and boundaries of school and new friendships. Maybe you are not 100% sure yourself as he may have been good up until now but that doesn’t guarantee the future of his behaviour. I was gutted and although I knew it wasn’t like him, I was concerned that this was the future map of my life. Trips and phone calls to the principals’ office.
In my case, after discussion with the principal his school punishment had been decided by the school. I discussed with her that we would discuss it at home and appropriate action would be taken. She felt that the school punishment was enough but I felt that it needed to be made clear to him that this behaviour would not be tolerated.
I asked her if I should speak with the mother. I felt terrible that this was her child’s first week at school. He was from another country and all we want is for our children to settle into any kind of new situation and here we were ruining this for them!
We spoke to our son that night about what being a bully was and just plain old being not very nice. The type of behaviour that isn’t kind and asked him how he would have felt if someone had done that to him. We spoke to him about being cool with your friends and if someone else does something but we don’t think it is right, we shouldn’t join in. We spoke about being fair to everyone and how we treat everyone. It was a big chat for a just turned 6 year old but I felt he already knew most of this. All I could do was hope that it sunk in.
The next afternoon I waited early for the school afternoon bell and saw the new mum on the block approaching. I was shaking like a leaf. This conversation could go so many ways. I could get yelled at, ignored, laughed at. I just had to balls up and speak to her. I introduced myself, apologised and explained. She listened. She accepted my apology. She spoke her side and I listened. I ensured that my child would be monitored by us and the school to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. We had a good chat and in my mind, I knew that I had done the right thing. I needed to tell her I felt dreadful that part of her and her son’s first week at school hadn’t gone as planned due to my son’s unwelcoming behaviour.
Thankfully since this time, we haven’t had another phone call from the school but it was a huge learning curve for me and part of realising as a parent that our children will change and grow and sometimes not in the direction we would like. But we have to ride it and go with it and do the best we can to teach them the best we can. The rest is up to them.
Oh, and one more thing. I am not pleased with the way he behaved but in this case ever since that day the boys are fantastic friends and new mum on the block and I are fantastic friends. All off the back of a sandwich and that phone call about my child.