Well, it happened. That day we tried hard to prepare ourselves for, watch for, warn others to try to avoid. But it was, unfortunately, inevitable. I wish it wasn't, but it is. A sad statement, that.
One of Joey's classmates thought it was funny to teach him to say "bitch." Then they thought it was hilarious to take around the room and have him repeat it to his classmates- who all laughed and thought it was funny. So Joey thought he was being funny, and went with it. I'm sure we all know that those kids were laughing at him, not with him.
What tools does Joey have to defend himself against such an attack? What does it say about our society that such an attack, child against child, would even be imaginable? Yet not only was it imaginable, we had already started trying to teach those skills of coping with anti-social behavior of others. Teasing. Bullying. Nastiness.
I am assured that there was discussion and teaching and correction all around, action taken, the substitute who was supposed to be with him spoken to, etc. etc. etc. Certainly Joey understood what had happened at some level by the time he came home and we talked about it, some with Grandma, some with me, some later at bedtime. We have not heard the word repeated here, other than when Grandma asked what had happened, and he explained to Grandma what had happened, including the detail of what the word was. We knew enough about the incident to fill in the blanks he had left in his description of the event.
All of these things are already in his IEP to address, but it leaves ringing in my brain the response to the goals: Our kids aren't like that, the new teacher insisted, backed up by another staff member of the new school. Sorry, folks, but this is a very small system. We have one school per level. Joey will be going to school with the same kids he is going to school with now. If your kids "aren't like that" now, get ready. It only takes one.
Andy and I were engaged in a new routine of bedtime activity, the Watching of the Videos. He loves him some Fuzzy Fuzzy Cute Cute, and Nigel Marven, and Walking with Dinosaurs: Live Edition. He's allowed three before storytime, and we were coming to the end of our third, a clip from Chased By Dinosaurs, when he burst into tears.
I was shocked. I stopped the film. He's seen the show a million bazillion times, its one of his favorites, and this clip is of funny bird-penguiny-things swimming around, and Nigel mentions most them do not live to a ripe old age because there are so many ways to be eaten in the Cretaceous oceans. Eaten? Uh-oh.
"I'm afraid I'm going to die!" he wailed, inconsolable.
Death has been a huge trigger around here since the fish died. Both little guys are having a lot of difficulty processing death and the loss of their fish, made worse by the fiasco of trying to replace them. Joey is constantly getting caught in cycles of talking about this person died, or that toy died, or his fish died. For the last two days, Andy has piped up and asked him to stop talking about dead things.
Then came the terrible blunder of our YouTube moments, one of the videos of silly dinosaurs included the eating of a pig, and Andy loves pigs. To get around this, I showed him the Warm Bath video, which he loves. He made the connection between the two pigs, and we finally settled on that the pig wasn't eaten, that he was just joking with the little dinosaur and drew a picture to fool him, and the big dinosaur carried the pig to the farmer to be put in the nice warm bath, and the big dinosaur burped because he thought burping was funny (see the video to see what I'm babbling about), and that's what happened. No eaten piggies.
Are you with me? Because now I have a child who, about to turn six years old, is suddenly petrified by death.
"I dont want to die! I don't want to go back to God!" How does one cushion the fear of death in a six-year-old? I haven't a clue, honestly. We did the best we could. We assured him that we love him, that he wasn't likely to die anytime soon, the God takes good care of all of us. And we love him, and do our best to keep him safe and help him learn to stay safe. And we love him. And Grandma wasn't going to die right away, and Mommy wasn't going to die right away, and Daddy was still here, and Joey was safe. And we love him.
It's the kind of discussion that makes you wander into his room and check to make sure he's OK every, oh, fifteen minutes. All night long. Just in case. Because we love him.