As a mom, one of the worst possible sights for you to see is your child in tears. I’m not talking about the kind they do when they’ve gotten into trouble, or even the ones they cry when they’ve gotten injured. I mean truly gut-wrenching “life wasn’t fair to me today” tears. I got to experience those tears on Wednesday.
On Wednesday’s Brendan has cello. On the days he has to take his cello to school it takes the boys longer to get to the car after school because he has to stop in the orchestra room to pick up his instrument before stopping to pick up his brother from the kindergarten teacher. Because it takes longer, and because his cello is heavy I’ve started picking the boys up closer to the school on cello days.
On this day, I’m really glad I did because the boys ended up getting to the car way later than usual and I was at least able to see why. On Wednesday’s school lets out at 2:15, on a normal day with no cello it takes the kids about 5-7 minutes to get to the car, cello days around 10. Yesterday it was coming up on 2:30 on my clock and the boys hadn’t yet shown up at the car.
The last few parents drove away and I was actually able to drive up to the point just on the edge of school grounds. I saw only one bus left in the parking lot and no sign of any kids at first. Then the bus drove away and I saw my two boys standing with a teacher up by the school. At first I was a little cranky. From my vantage point it looked like they were just standing around and chatting with her, like it was social hour and they’d just lost track of time.
But as they drew closer to the car I could see on Brendan’s face that was not the case. The boys generally toss their backpacks into the front seat, Brendan loads his cello into the back end, and then they climb into the back seats and we head for home. Seeing how upset Brendan looked I told him to come back up to the front seat after he’d loaded his instrument.
After some mutinous muttering directed toward his cello, he got it loaded up and came around to the front of the car. He sat next to me and I asked what was wrong. He wasn’t in tears yet, but he was out of sorts to be certain. Worse than he was the day he had a substitute teacher. I could tell he was trying to control himself and not yell at me, but was struggling.
So I asked what happened to make him so upset. He burst out that they’d gotten into a little trouble after school. It took a couple of minutes for him to get the whole story out, but what it boiled down to was that Cameron was being Cameron after school and began running around and being crazy. Unfortunately he decided to do this off the curb down by the doors and wheels of one of the school buses. Well, he was caught and the punishment was that both Brendan and Cameron had to stay at the school until all of the buses had left. Which is why I saw them standing there like I did.
After he’d gotten through the story he added on, almost like an afterthought. “And I had cello with me and it was heavy and I had a really bad day and I just wanted to go home.” That caught my attention. I asked him what was so bad about his day, but he wouldn’t answer me. The first time he said it was nothing, and the second time he said he couldn’t remember. Finally the third time he burst into anguished sobs and told me that he’d been picked on at school.
My poor baby. I didn’t even know the details of what had happened yet, but I knew it must have been pretty bad if Brendan noticed that he was being picked on. There have been times in the past that I’ve witnessed kids picking on him and their jabs went right over his head. I decided not to press it and spent the rest of the car ride comforting him.
When we got home I decided a little one on one time was in order. I put on a cartoon for Cameron and Kaylee and took Brendan into my room to do a little reading. We are in the last 5 chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Brendan has been anxious to read it all week. So I thought a little reading might help cheer him up some.
About 20 minutes in, he’d definitely perked up a bit. The battle for Hogwarts was being waged and he was pouring over the words to see what would happen next. Then my phone rang, interrupting our reading. Looking at the number I could tell it was the school. I wondered if it was Cameron’s teacher calling to tell me about something he’d done that day (that wouldn’t be the first time), if it was the teacher I’d seen the boys with after school calling to tell me about that incident, or if it was one of the teacher’s from Brendan’s IEP team who call on occasions with questions for me.
What I was not expecting was it to be Brendan’s teacher. I think in all the years Brendan has been in elementary school we have never gotten a call about him from his teacher. She was calling to check in with how Brendan was doing and to let me know about the events of the day. I told her he’d been pretty upset and mentioned he was picked on but hadn’t told me what had happened.
Basically what happened is that some kids in Brendan’s class were picking on him at reading time because Brendan has to get really close to read materials. The teacher intervened at that point and thought the situation was over, but as it turns out it wasn’t. At lunchtime some of the kids (I’m not sure if the same ones or not) were saying that Brendan smelled and got others to move away so that Brendan was sitting all alone.
Evidently they had a classroom meeting after lunch and talked to the whole class about the situation. His teacher said that Brendan never once showed how much the kids had hurt his feelings and even actively participated in the discussion. But the truth was he was hurt by it and that’s what I got to see when he came home.
After I talked with his teacher I talked to Brendan a little more about what had happened, but he didn’t really want to open up to me still. A few minutes in he looked at me and said, “Mom, I just want to forget about it.” And he did. He perked up after that and acted the rest of the evening like nothing had happened. I don’t know that I could have been that mature about something like this at his age, and I certainly wouldn’t be that mature about it even now.
My only hope is that he really is over the situation and not just bottling his feelings up inside.