It had been months since we’d heard about any issues with the little boy in Brendan’s class and since winter was back in full force the kids hadn’t been outside playing much and we hadn’t run into our neighbors lately. So you can imagine my surprise when, as we were getting ready to leave the house for parent/teacher conferences, Brendan came to Matt and I and admitted that he’d had a problem with the same kid in his class that had caused all the problems back in the fall.
And the thing is, we really weren’t prepared for it because he hadn’t come home from school visibly upset or shown any other indications that something was wrong. He came into our bedroom, sat on the edge of my bed, and just said there had been an issue as calmly as if he were declaring it was a sunny day. As always with Brendan, he wasn’t very forthcoming with information. We poked, prodded, and did all we could to wheedle details about the situation out of Brendan.
What we were able to gather was that there had been an incident in the lunch line where the other little boy had ended up shoving Brendan. Evidently it was over where the two boys were standing in line. As we sifted through the details and tried to get more from him it occurred to me that if this had all gone on I should have heard from the school. When the first incident happened I was called by both Brendan’s regular teacher and his special ed teacher. That was just a verbal confrontation, if this was a physical altercation I would expect to have heard from someone.
Especially after Brendan told us that he had been sent to the principal’s office over the incident. When Cameron was sent to the principal earlier this year we were called and informed about that situation as well. So why had we not received any phone calls about this situation at all? Needless to say Matt and I were livid by the time we left for the school. We knew we had only discovered a portion of the story but the information we had said that Brendan had been assaulted and that he was sent to the principal because of it.
Unfortunately we had to sit through Cameron’s conference first. On the best of days Matt and I don’t get along well with Cameron’s teacher. Our personalities just don’t mesh well. That night we were preoccupied with Brendan’s situation and wanted nothing more than to get through the conference quickly. It felt like his 15 minute conference lasted about 2 hours. We had taken the kids with us to conferences that night and had anticipated they would sit quietly outside the classrooms and wait for us.
His teacher had other ideas. She brought him in to demonstrate some of the things he’s been struggling with in the classroom. We’ve known Cameron has been struggling and we’re working with him at home to help him catch up to his class. She wasn’t doing anything malicious or anything but in the mood we were in it felt as though she were trying to emphasize his faults. We see now that wasn’t the case, but as I said we were pretty preoccupied with other thoughts that night.
Finally we went down to Brendan’s classroom. I’m sure his teacher had plenty of things she wanted to discuss in the conference, but Brendan’s special ed teacher (who also attends his conferences) asked us first thing if we had any questions for her which led us to open the conversation up about the incident we’d heard about from Brendan.
I’m sure we were a little harder on his teacher than we should have been. She was in a difficult position because she had actually not witnessed the incident, nor had she been involved in the discipline. A para takes the students to lunch so that para was the one who witnessed the altercation and the principal had handled all discipline.
She answered our questions to the best of her ability, and while we got a few more details about the incident we found that we actually had all the facts. We left the meeting very unsatisfied. Her answers had been vague and unspecific. She wasn’t able to tell us anything that we didn’t already know and knew almost nothing about what had happened in the principals office.
The one thing we did discover through our meeting with her was that Brendan had lied about the situation. Both the witnesses to the situation and the little boy who caused the problem both said that he had shoved Brendan. Brendan said he did not. At home that night we sat Brendan down again and talked to him about the situation. To put it bluntly, he hadn’t wanted to get the other little boy into trouble. We had a long talk about why it’s important to always tell the truth in situations like that and assured him again that we weren’t mad about the situation, just trying to get facts.
We settled down for bed and tried to put the whole thing behind us. Things had been taken care of at school, Brendan wasn’t punished, and from what we could gather the other little boy was. With that taken care of there was nothing more to be done. But the longer I lay there the more mad I got about the whole thing. I wasn’t satisfied by the teacher’s answers, I was angry that I’d had to find out about the entire thing from Brendan, and I just wasn’t ready to let things go.
After discussing my feelings with Matt I discovered that he was feeling the same way I was. We finally decided that we needed to take our concerns to the next level. Without hesitation I sent an email to the principal and requested a meeting. I figured it would take a few days to get set up, after all I sent the email late Tuesday night, and while the kids did have school Wednesday it would be their last day of school for a week since they’re always out of school for a few days following parent/teacher conferences.
Surprisingly enough the principal would be working even though the school was closed and invited us to come up to school on Thursday afternoon. Our meeting with her lasted less than 30 minutes, but we left that meeting much more satisfied with the resolution of the situation. I can’t say that we really came out of the meeting armed with much more information than we had before, after all she wasn’t at liberty to discuss the specifics of discipline being carried out with the other student, but at least we felt our concerns had been heard and that we were finally getting some information first hand.
After the meeting we tried to finally put the whole thing to rest. Being satisfied with the answers we were given does not mean that we are happy with what happened. Nor are we content in the knowledge that this sort of thing is bound to happen again at some point in Brendan’s life. But as I said in the beginning some things are inevitable, and this is one of those things.