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Fight Club for Five Year Olds - Part 2

The other mother and I went into the school to meet with the teacher and the assistant head.  We both let them know how upset we were that we were not informed that our children were sent to the office and how much we were against the children being allowed to play fighting games on the playground.  I told them I wouldn't allow it at home and I'm really unhappy that it's being allowed at school.  They admitted it was a problem and explained that they are planning to introduce a a scheme to teach the children to play in a safe way.  They will be calling it 'Super Hero Training'.  They plan to give out capes & masks out to children who behave well as rewards at playtime.  They will have assemblies where they will teach the children to play fighting games without making contact.  I find this to be absurd.  The problem has gone on to long and I doubt they will be able to teach little children to change their games when they have sixty other children to look after on the playground.  I let them know I didn't see it as a viable solution.
I also talked to them about the child who was being permitted to be the leader of these games. I said They should be taught to play together as equals.  Their response was that there will always be leaders in life and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.
I agreed and told them and said, 'Yes, there will always be leaders in life, but let that happen naturally outside of school.  It should not be tolerated on the playground.  This boy is persuading the other boys to break the rules so they could be included and if they don't, they are left out.  My son comes home upset because he's not being allowed to play with his friends. His friends are pressured to go along with what ever this boys says and it's just not right at such a young age.  At what point does this child go from being a 'leader' to just being a bully?  He is five years old and should not be permitted to have such power.'
The teacher turned to me and said,  'Your son is an emotional boy because he has an emotional mother.'
I shot her a look and it took every amount of self control I had to not tell her to screw off (and that's putting it mildly).
I took a deep breath and said, ' Listen, you've been doing this job a long time so let me try to remind you how hard it is as parents to hand our kids over to you every day and have them parented in a way that is totally different than we would at home.  You spend more time them than we do and for some of us, it's a hard pill to swallow.'
The assistant head turned to me and said, 'I appreciate that, but you have to learn to trust us to do right by your child.'
And that's when I cried because at the end of the day, I don't trust them.
By the end of the meeting, I realized I was being handled.  The assistant head is well trained to tell parents what they want to hear and get them out the door.  She handled me so well that by the time I left, I walked out saying, 'What just happened?'
After that, I decided to step back and see how it played out.  I talked to my son about playing rough and that I didn't want him to do things at school that he knew he wasn't allowed to do at home, but the very next day I was called into the office with my son to meet with the assistant head.  She told me he was in trouble again for rough play on the playground.  As punishment, I took his favorite toy away and told him he would get it back when I got a good report from his teacher.
I told his teacher what the arrangement was and told her that when she gave my son a sticker for making good choices all day, he would earn his toy back.  At pick-up time, I asked how he was.  She smiled and said he was good.  He came out with a grave look on his face and told me he didn't get a sticker.  She just looked at me and walked away with no explanation.  I wanted to smack her, but explained to my son that if he didn't get a sticker, there must have been a good reason for it and stuck to my guns.
The following day she said he was really good.
'Did you give him a sticker?'
She huffed, 'Okay, I'll give him a sticker.'
Again, I wanted to smack her.  It was like pulling teeth with this woman!
I laid low for the following week.  On Friday, I got a message from the school that  my son had hit his face, a cold compress was applied and he was okay.  When I went to pick him up, his cheek was clearly swollen.
'Wow, you really did hit your face,' I said
The teacher saw me touch his cheek.
'Oh no, he didn't hit it there it was his lip,' She said.
My son pulled his bottom lip down and showed me where he cut it.  As he did so, I noticed dried blood on his nose.
'You had a bloody nose as well?'
The teacher said, 'No his nose was fine.'
My son then walked out of the class toward the parking lot and I was forced to follow rather than continue the conversation.  When we got to the car, I got a good look at my son.  He had a swollen cheek & lip, dried blood on his nose and a big scratch on his chest.  I took him by the hand and walked him to the assistant head's office to show her.
'Look at him!'  I said.  'What is going on with the teachers that they didn't notice the state of him?  He looks like he's been in a fight!'
The assistant head apologized to me and asked my son what happened to him.  He told her his face got hurt when another boy hit him in with a bat on the playground, but he could not account for the scratch or bloody nose.  I just looked at her.  She told me we'd get to the bottom of it.
'You're damned right we'll get to the bottom of it,'  I told her 'but what the hell is going on that he's so used to being hurt that he can't tell us where he got the other injuries? This is absurd!'
She scrambled for answers questioning the teachers and assistants.  The head came out to talk me down, but there was no talking me down.  What answers could they give me?
Is this just part of sending your kids to school?  Do you relinquish control and just hope for the best??  or do you keep fighting?  I have become 'that mother'  the mother that is in the office three times in the first three weeks of school raising hell and I hate it.  I don't know what to do.  Is this my problem?  Am I just too much of a worrier?  Or is this whole thing as bad as I think it is?


andrea said…
I find this appalling. Can you send him to a different school? Not only is his teacher horrific the assistant head sounds bad too. I am so sorry, this whole thing is NOT ok.
Erren said…
Thank you Andrea,
It's so good to get validation from someone who is separated from the situation!
We would like to switch schools, but would have to go on a waiting list. His school only goes up to year 2 so we'd be out of there after next year. My fear is switching him and ending up with someplace he hates away from the friends he's made. It's such a tough choice. I'm starting to think I wouldn't be happy anywhere he goes.
The bottom line is that in my eyes, he's too young for it all. He's five years old and this year it's formal education with far less play. It's too much too soon. If we were back home, he'd be just starting kindergarten and going only half a day. That's what I want for him and it breaks my heart to see him have to work so hard never mind deal with all of these other issues! I'm sick over it!
Thank you for following my blog all this time (especially since I don't keep it up as much as I'd like). :-)
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