Overheard Parents: The Kindergarten Bully
Another Wednesday, another cup of coffee, another thirty minutes to spare. Within earshot, there are a group of cyclists discussing their morning run. Not much to note there, although I do feel slightly inspired to invest in a mountain bike.
I decide instead to change tables and head over to where a group of moms seem to be in an uproar. I can’t tell what they’re talking about, but judging by all the wide-eyed expressions and gesticulating, it’s got to be something good!
Mom 1: I can’t believe they don’t do anything about her! The school is responsible.
Mom 2: The parents are worse! They don’t even acknowledge the problem!
Mom 1: That’s a given. They’re probably the root of the problem anyway.
Mom 3: Last week, she teased Suzie about her looks. And then she pushed Dylan down the slide . . . hard! Poor Dylan was crying and he could have gotten hurt. What if he had landed on his head and broke his neck?
Mom 1: Come on, ladies. There are so many examples, we can make a long list of them . . . She poured his chocolate milk onto Jaron’s sandwich, she tripped Ian, and she yelled at Camille all in one day. That’s just one day!
Mom 3: The kid is a bully . . . And she’s only in kindergarten!
Aaaah . . . the feared bully . . . the horror of all parents and children across the country! But I’m somehow having trouble with the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely horrified by the stories of terrible and continuous bullying that leads to depression or worse.
At the same time, I can’t help feeling that the term is becoming so overused, describing just normal developmental circumstances that it distracts from the real issues. I mean, chocolate milk on a sandwich or pushing someone down a slide used to be commonplace stuff on schoolyards – no one would hardly take notice. And those kids all grew up fine.
But calling someone a bully when they’re five hardly seems fair. That’s a pretty big title to have to carry around. I mean, the kid is five! You have to allow children to go through their normal course of development. Does she really need to be known as a bully at such an early stage?
Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to titling children, coming from a culture where if you wet your bed sheets once at age three, you’re known as a bed-better well into retirement. But isn’t a bit of pushing, yelling, and even biting normal in Kindergarten?
Does the child really have to be labeled from the first year of school?
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