Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Playground Politics.

These pictures are from Climber's Open Day yesterday. Almost the whole class embraced the theme of Crazy Hair, via wigs and gel and hairspray, and they proudly showed us their very impressive dioramas inspired by the book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Climber's group all sprayed their hair pink and wore ponytails to perform the poem they'd co-written and choreographed, and they were completely gorgeous.

Crazy Hair Diorama

And now, for everyone who hasn't been following the saga over on Facebook, let me tell you about the Troubles At School. This is a slightly tricky blogpost to write, given the ever-changing landscape of childhood friendships; today's worst enemy could be next year's best friend when maturity and tastes evolve. So I wasn't really sure whether I should record the whole affair, and this is partly because it's hard to know who is reading and who might be hurt by it. But given that this a family chronicle and what's been going on has had quite an impact lately, I thought I would set it down for posterity and just be as diplomatic and fair-minded as I can...

Crazy Hair

Young Climber has been having a very difficult time at school lately with another child. The other child, at this stage of his life, is a persistent type of boy, not one who takes no for an answer. He and Climber started out as friends but Climber got progressively more uncomfortable in his presence and tried to extricate himself. He didn't feel himself as an equal in the friendship because the other child was, as Climber put it, always right or if he was wrong, you were too. Climber tried walking away (the child followed) and using his words (the child ignored him), but the niggling continued and in the end it came to blows. Not just the once, either. It also came to Climber feeling very angry indeed and really lashing out at the Other Child, and then feeling absolutely stressed out because he felt very uncomfortable for having reached those peaks of temper. I found out piecemeal through various discussions with my stressed and distressed child that the two of them had been involved in as many as 8 scuffles. Then last week they had such a blazing physical fight that other children felt the urge to step in and break it up. None of their fights were ever seen by the Yard Duty Teachers.

So I told his teacher about the Big Fight - I'd already talked with her about the ongoing tensions - and this resulted in Climber and the Other Child (plus the 6 other witnesses for part of it) being hauled in to have a big session with both the Principal and the Vice-Principal. They were very good and from what they've said to me have been very supportive of the Climber who they recognised as a gentle child, and one who had been provoked and moreover, one who had been trying, up to a point, to do the right thing. Our school has a No Hitting No Fighting policy which I'd pretty much forgotten about (shows you how closely I read the Student Code of Conduct when the kids sign it each year) so they took the incident very seriously indeed. Both boys had to write an apology to each other (Climber's said I am sorry for fighting back and not tell the yard duty teacher) and the Other Child is only allowed to play in a Restricted Area for the next week so that Climber doesn't have to encounter him in the schoolyard unless he chooses to. And it has also been made clear to them that the fighting is Not On.

Later that day the Vice-Principal called me in for a chat and I felt reassured that the problem was being dealt with properly. I also felt that they were looking out for Climber and had a good idea of the character of both boys. I had this pathetic moment when I suddenly got a mental image of Climber telling them his version of the events and maybe breaking down in there as he'd done many times when he'd discussed it with me and found to my embarrassment that I had started to cry. But the Vice-Principal merely handed me a tissue and told me that beyond getting slightly wobbly at one stage he had held himself together very well.

The Other Child was adamant that he didn't want his father informed of the trouble, and although the Principal was not in favour of this, (in her own words she said she was not as soft as the Vice-Principal) they agreed, after leaving the decision to Climber, to give him One Last Chance to improve his conduct. But Climber is under strict instruction to inform the Vice-Principal should the other child ever lay a finger on him again.

I think the Climber is feeling much happier about the whole situation and we'll just see how it all washes out.

post pink


  1. A terribly stressful time for you but it does seem that it has been handled well all 'round. Is that how it feels to you?

  2. I would have to agree from what you've written that it was handled well.
    I hope that climber gets a break and I'm glad you all dealt with this before it got to a point where it was damaging his self esteem.
    Sadly, it sounds as though the other boy might have some battles he's dealing with at home that are being acted out on the school yard. I hope he gets the help he needs from teachers.
    Growing up is so hard.

  3. First, love the pink eyebrows in that last shot.

    Then, of course, this must all be so stressful, but at least it seems that the school is being pretty responsive and sensitive to everything which must be reassuring. As much as anything can be reassuring when dealing with Climber being upset.

  4. Awww, doesn't seeing him in pink make you want to try for a girl?

    Poor Climber. Who hasn't been where he is! I had a friend that I couldn't shake, she drained me, she was like a bloody dementor, sucking all the good feeling from me. I knew I had to be free of her, but it took a LONG time for her to get the message.

    It was very stressful, but I was grown up!

    No, I am not making this about me. What I am saying is that Climber has had to deal in a grown up way and it sounds to me he has acted very maturely throughout it all, despite the fighting.

    Poor little love. But isn't it great he comes to you and confides in you? I think that's just brilliant.

    I hope things level out for him now.

    Funny, word verification is ackgnise. Which is kind of how I would expect someone his age to say agonise.

  5. Do you know? I have tears readingthis. Well done Climber for being so mature for so long and also (quick check to make sure no-one is listening) well done for sending it straight back to him when it got physical. Sometimes when you are a little kid an overt show of power as defence is the only way. Obviously not that I condone violence in any way. Ever.

  6. Poor little Climber, Le Artiste has also had a couple of incidents over the last term, and as he is such a small,trusting fellow, it just kills me.
    I hope everything works out and Climber doesn't have any more issues with the other boy.

  7. Oh, goodness.

    I'm just glad the staff didn't shine the whole thing on. "Boys will be boys" and all of that. I admire a great deal about the school your son attends.

  8. Oh no. I've pretty much given up on facebook except for wordtwist so didn't know any of this.

    It sounds as though things are on track, but what a stress! (another! Just what you lot need!)


  9. He's such a lovely boy. Inside and out.

    I hope the next few weeks are a smoothing out and healing for him - and that The Bully gets someone else in their sights!

    (well, okay, that The Bully starts acting properly. But around someone else's child, please.)

  10. Oh. Very tricky situation. Poor climber, it must have been so stressful for him. I hope it's resolved now. Trouble at school can really be all consuming for children -and the rest of the family.

  11. He looks much happier in that last photo. Relieved even.

    I'm so glad you have a supportive administration to work with... that is so essential. It does indeed sound like it was well-handled.

    Can I say I had a mental time-out to imagine Aunty Evil facing off with a dementor? What would her patronus be.... hmmmm....

  12. Oh poor Climber. Its so tricky isn't it and I sometimes don't know who suffers most, child or parent?

    As first-time prep parents we're just discovering all the school-yard stuff. Everyone has commented that it seems to be worst amongst the boys this year, machiavellian doesn't begin to describe it! But luckily all the parents have been very good, and the school and nothing has escalated. Glad the Climber is happy again!

  13. Oh the worry & the horror. What is becoming of children who are seeming to be more & more violent. How distressing for you, and for Climber. I have always thought of him as a gentle child.
    I do hope the 'other' is helped, it sounds as if he needs some help, quite urgently.

  14. Oh, school yard stuff is just so hard and so heartbreaking. I hope Climber gets some space from this other person, there is nothing harder that trying to extricate yourself from a toxic friendship. We adults find it hard so imagine how hard it is for kids...

  15. I'm glad things are improving, and I just LOVE all that pink hair!!

  16. How difficult all round and am so glad it has been handles well by the school. my love to all of you, and you can email me. love from rome, shortly off to florence.mum

  17. You're not the only one to get teary in front of the teacher when hearing about your child's woes at school!
    It sounds like you, your lovely boy and the school have handled the situation beautifully.
    I hope things settle down for Climber soon.


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