Being a mom is awesome but HARD!
Within the last week I've had one of my hardest moments as a parent. While on my work trip I received an e-mail that Emma had been acting as a bully to a girl in her class and when confronted about it she had lied to her teacher and guidance counselor.
As I was sitting in my hotel room in Germany, all I could do is think is NOT MY CHILD! I know that this sweet darling girl that I gave birth to could NEVER intentionally hurt someones feelings. We had been through our own bullying experience in first grade... Emma would come home from school crying because of the mean things that a classmate had said... didn't that experience teach her to respect everyone even if they were different??? Had I failed as a parent somehow??? Did I not teach her? Had she overheard me talking about the clothes that someone was wearing when I make a comment under my breath? (Side note: I need to stop doing that) Could this all be my fault??? This is instantly where my head and heart went...
That night I had a hard conversation with Emma (on speaker phone)... She admitted to a few of the items that she was being accused of but I could tell that she was not being completely forthcoming. An appointment with the principal was made for Monday and I had to just stew on everything from another country... I knew that it would be too hard to get the whole truth from her without being face-to-face.
I came home from the trip and on Sunday, after our Mother's Day festivities, I did some true mothering. We sat down and had the BIG TALK. I shared with her that we are not all perfect and that once I had written bad things about a classmate, at around the same age, and that I too had been caught. We talked about bullying and why people bully (to get down to the real root of the problem). We talked about walking away from a situation when others are being unkind and not jumping in and joining the conversation. We talked about the need to not only apologize but to also show that you have learned from your actions and what needed to be done going forward.
It was also extremely hard to discuss the upcoming meeting with her principal... Emma needed to understand fully that this was a serious offense and that she could be suspended from school or even asked not to return next year (as she is a "guest" at her current school and needs annual approval to return)...
After a long talk and a lot of tears, I asked Emma if she had some people to apologize to... and she decided that she would start with writing letters. She did a letter to each of the people that she had lied to and she wrote a letter for the girl that she had said mean things about.
Yesterday, Emma's Father & I met with the Principal and Guidance Counselor at 1 p.m. and I have to say that I was NERVOUS! I had never been in a situation like this... I had never been called to the Principal's office before! The conversation started with a confirmation on the seriousness of the situation and that Emma could be faced with suspension... From there I revealed that Emma had in fact admitted to the bullying and we walked through all of the items that we had discussed with Emma on Sunday at home.
It was decided that Emma would meet with the counselor again and that she would personally deliver the note to the classmate. This would allow for Emma will read it to her and apologize face-to-face.... which is a hard thing to do for a child. It was important for Emma to take responsibility for her actions and to show empathy and respect for her classmate.
In the end, Emma is not being suspended for her actions... of that I am very grateful!! I'm happy that she is being given another chance and an opportunity to show that she has learned from this experience.
She is not the only one that learned... this was a HUGE learning experience for me as a parent and I know that it will not be my last parenting challenge...
So that is what we have been dealing with in the Park household!