Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To meddle...or not to meddle

Being the second of eight kids, it goes without saying that we had our share of adventures in the Thompson household.  Growing up there was the usual for a large family: broken arms, one broken back, two brain surgeries, handfuls of stitches and one or two late night adventures that our parents still know nothing about....(shhh)...the list goes on and on.

Christian, McSean, Kara, Alecia & Marisa

Our parents were very close to us and supported us in nearly every aspect of our lives.  They knew the names of all of our friends and came to every recital, ball game and believe it or not, every poetry reading at Carden Memorial School.  They were always there for us and we knew it.

Earlier this morning, I was thinking back on a weekend when my mom was for some reason out of town and my dad was home holding down the fort.  My mom was not gone a lot, but we loved my dad's attempts to dress and feed us--hard boiled eggs and Ding Dongs for breakfast.  This particular weekend, my two brothers McSean and Christian were at an age where wrestling was the only form of communication they used.  They loved to wrestle.  One night, things were a little rougher than usual and McSean ended up really hurting his arm.  He was crying a lot and went to my dad in tears.  My dad did the usual "Parent Broken Bone Diagnosis"...which means,..."Can you move your fingers?"    Fortunately, he could move his fingers just fine so my dad told him that everything was fine and that he would be okay.  But as the weekend progressed, the swelling was significant and he continued to complain of the pain.  Well, a few days later my mom returned home, took one look at his arm and immediately took him to the doctor.  Needless to say...McSean came home in a cast.

My sweet dad thought he had taken care of the problem.  He listened to his son's concerns, addressed them and then tried to help McSean cope and move on, but obviously McSean needed more help.

I bring this up because Lauren is struggling in school and I am trying to decide if her frustrations and my attempts to address the situation have merely been a "Can you move your fingers?" fix.  She has been complaining about how much she hates school, how she can tell that her teacher doesn't like her and how mean some of the kids are to her....but let's be honest, this is a cycle that is repeating itself again.   Sometimes I wonder is she really in trouble? Or is she a typical 9-year-old who enjoys a pity party?  But I have tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I listen to her concerns and have tried to give her the skills she needs to be confident and a friend to her peers.

She continues to cry about her situation and mean boys calling her a "platypus" or the teasing she gets at recess.  She came home in tears the other day complaining that one of the boys actually punched her in the stomach.  I decided it was time to do more than simply send another email to her teacher, so I called and said that I wanted to know how the school handles this type of situation.

Ms. K called me back yesterday and told me that they had taken the boy to the principal's office and the boy had said that it was an "accident" and "not intentional."  She went on to say that she thinks I need to help Lauren interpret the actions of others and determine when someone is being malicious or just careless.  She did say however, that she has told Lauren to always come and tell her immediately if something else happens.  Ms. K went on to say that there was another mishap yesterday afternoon.  Lauren told Ms. K that a boy had spit in her face.  Ms K said that she asked the boy and he said it was an accident.  She said, "I told Lauren, this is what I am talking about.  You need to learn the difference between an accident and intentional behavior." 

So when Lauren got home yesterday, I asked her about the spitting.  She immediately started crying and said that the boy at her table was frustrated because he wanted Lauren to stop talking so that he could have a turn answering the question, so he stuck his tongue out and blubbered his tongue in her face.  She said that it was so sick and she had spit all over her.  Accident? Lauren trusted her teacher, went and told her about the spitting incident and was made to feel stupid and that somehow this was her fault.

So, I am struggling to know what to do.  Do I meddle?  Do I turn into that barracuda mom?  There is a line I am trying to find in my role as a mom.  The line between teaching self sufficiency and protecting my kids from the pain in their world.  I am trying to decide if, "Can you move your fingers?" is enough.

But one thought is constant in my mind...I am Lauren's mom and sometimes it's okay to be her voice.


  1. And another is constant - that first photo is AWESOME!!

  2. No kidding Ellen! Did my mom think we were the Von Trapps??? Fortunately for my brothers, this "matchy-matchy" stopped around this time period.

  3. First off, lol on those first two comments. But seriously, it's heartbreaking to see your kids in these situations. I can only imagine how difficult it is to know how to handle them. When Alexa's "teacher" told me the other day that Alexa is a bit of a loner, I resisted the urge to say, "you are!" Luckily, Lauren is in good hands. You're such a great mom, Alecia. And I'll be coming to you in the future for advice. :)

  4. Leesh,obviously I don't know since I don't have kids. But, I wonder if other parents in the school are feeling the same way -that the teachers are taking the lazy/easy way out of dealing with difficult situations between kids. I wonder if you -gasp- went to the PTA or parent group and sought out their advice as well.

    I can only compare what a difference it has been for Thomas to have a teacher and school that nurture him and trust him. If Lauren isn't getting that, it may be no big deal in the long run, but it may be a big deal. I have no idea.

    No matter what though, it is always a good thing to learn how to not get feelings hurt over everything a dumb boy does or says (she can come to me for advice on that one ;). Be prayerful and you'll know what to do.

    Tell her I love her! You're a great mom!


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