Turning the Other Cheek
Hugh and I were called to the school yesterday afternoon to deal with a situation in which the Man-Cub had been kicked in the face.
By a girl.
The girl in question is a year older than the Cub and has been labeled a “problem child” due to a history of semi-violent outbursts at her previous school. She is the product of a sadly broken family and has only recently been adopted by a family here in town. They are trying their best to help her develop the social skills that most kids have already learned by the time they are in the fifth grade but which she never had properly modeled for her.
When she kicked the Cub, it was a result of trying to get the attention of a group of girls in the class, girls who are friends of the Cub’s and who were engaging with him in some good-natured back-and-forth teasing (you know; knock it off, no, you knock it off, shut up, no, you shut up. That kind of thing). The girl in question obviously wanted very much to fit in with the group and, not understanding that the kids were playing; decided that the Cub needed a swift kick in the head for arguing with her intended friends.
The Cub was none the worse for the wear; he’s been getting kicked by his sister for years.
The sad part is that we had to be called in to the school. The other parents were-understandably-upset, the Cub freaked out because he thought he was in trouble, the classroom teacher was beside herself because it all happened so fast and she hadn’t had time to intervene and we were all upset because school policy dictates that the police be called into any situation regarding a physical altercation, no matter that it was a misunderstanding on the part of a child who simply does not have the social skills necessary to thrive in the elementary school system.
What really sucked was that Hugh was the only cop on duty because all the regular officers are using their vacation and accumulated comp time for hunting so; guess who got to take the report?
Luckily, the girl’s parents were more than receptive to the idea of having a uniformed police officer talk to the girl because they wanted her to understand the seriousness of taking aggressive physical action against someone and, I have no doubt they were right. I cannot imagine the daily stress involved in trying to undo the damage caused to that child over the past eleven years and my heart goes out to them.
Also, luckily, Hugh felt that the conversation with the girl went well. She started out quite closed off and sullen but, by the time they were finished, was speaking more freely and occasionally smiling for Hugh. I hope she overcomes her history. I hope she gains confidence and self-esteem and that she doesn’t become another statistic of child abuse and parental drug use. I really do.
In the meantime, the Cub has offered to be “especially nice” to her; he understands that she hasn’t had the same advantages that he has had and that she might need some kindness in order to help her make friends at school.
I seriously hope it helps and that, one day, they look back and joke about how they met and became friends on that day that she kicked him in the face.
What a great story that would make.