I got a call yesterday from the school bus driver. My daughter is in kindergarten. We are on school day 13 of the school year. And I got a phone call about my daughter’s behaviour. I was not surprised.
The bus driver informed me that my daughter bit a boy on the bus, that it left a mark but did not break the skin, and that she did have to write it up. To be fair, she said, he was blowing in her face and wouldn’t stop. I’ve separated them. She went on to tell me that she understood why my daughter bit him, and that she explained to my daughter that if anyone bothers her on the bus she is to tell the driver or the aide.
I talked to her and reinforced the “chain of procedure”. When someone is doing something we don’t like we ask them to stop. Then we tell an adult so the adult can make them stop. If they won’t stop it is okay to push them away and make them stop.
We talked about the “golden rule” – treat others the way you want them to treat you. Do you want to be bitten? Didn’t think so. Before you act, stop and think, would I like it if someone did this to me? If the answer is no, maybe it would be better not to do it. Unless of course you’re making them stop because they won’t listen to no.
Today the school principal (Mrs. T.) called me. She wanted to make sure I was aware of what had happened and that she understood completely where my daughter was coming from. She was fully supportive of my daughter standing up for herself and stopping someone who was in her face. “I’m not advocating violence!” she laughed. I understood completely. She has a right to defend herself. And her bus driver and principal understand and respect that. But could I teach her to ask for help first?
Yes. Yes I can.
And I will, because this isn’t about not getting the boys in trouble, it’s about covering her own ass. If she had told an adult he would have gotten in trouble and she would not have. Because she bit him she got in trouble. Yes, he got in trouble too, but biting is a bigger deal than blowing in someone’s face so she got in more trouble than he did.
(I know, it’s not about the blowing, it’s about not listening when she said no but they’re in kindergarten – they are both learning the appropriate ways to act)
If you tell the adult then the person bugging you gets in trouble and you don’t. And if they do it again they get in even more trouble. And when you finally have to hit them, it’s justified and you get in less trouble than they do. May sound like a dumb way to explain it but kids understand it – they don’t want to be in trouble. And it will save her a heap of trouble when she’s a teen.
Because one day a boy is going to snap her bra strap and she’s going to give him a black eye.
And I’ll be damn proud of her.
So thank you to her principal and bus driver for empowering her to seek help and to stand up for herself. Thank-you for respecting her right to say no, to dictate what people can do to her person, even at 4 years old. She will learn that you are safe people, people who will listen to her, believe her, and respect her.