I found myself in the principal’s office this morning. Sitting across the desk in my University of Utah hoodie, I explained how my son had been bullied by another student this past week.
At least I think he’d been bullied. My son is in first grade, and he loves to tell stories about how he’s been wronged on the playground. My job as his father is to believe his version of the story. One day he had scratches on his face. The next day his lip was swollen and bloodied.
And then yesterday he ran to the car after school to tell his mom he’d been placed on lunch detention. I have no idea what lunch detention is, but it sounds as serious as a heart attack.
So I made an appointment to speak with the principal.
Had this been my first child, I would have acted rationally and notified the police, called an attorney and notified the local news station. But this is my fourth child, and I wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy to meet with the principal without a Diet Coke because I stayed up too late watching Seinfeld reruns.
I explained to the principal what my son had told me. He listened. He then asked a few questions before telling me his plan to solve the issue. I told him how much my four oldest children enjoy attending his school. We shook hands, and I returned home.
One benefit of having children at a later age is that I feel more prepared for these situations. Sure, I want to make sure my son isn’t injured at recess. But I don’t pretend to have all the details of what happened on the playground last week. My son can be agitating at times. OK, much of the time. It’s very possible he’s as much to blame as the other boy.
Before my son went to school this morning, Kim sat next to him and asked, “Can you think of something nice to say to this boy? Maybe he just needs a friend.”
I like that approach. We all need a friend.