The Principal’s Office

So I wrote and emailed this letter a few days ago:

Dear [Principal],
We are writing to you regarding a situation with our younger daughter Kate [redacted] and a classmate of hers [redacted]. Although most of the time Classmate and Kate purport to befriends, even in the terminology of the day “BFFs”, they have conflicts that are natural to children. However, some of Classmate’s actions toward Kate have been physically aggressive and are crossing the line.
Last year, Classmate pulled Kate’s jumper up over her head at recess, embarrassing our daughter. For awhile afterward, Kate “played sick” for several mornings, not wanting to go to school. (I wrote about that here.)
We spoke with [Kate’s awesome teacher] about that situation, and she has been very responsive. She said she had noticed conflict with the two girls, and worked to keep them separate from each other to avoid the drama that little girls can provoke. So far, we have been happy with the school’s response. Kate and Classmate seem to have been doing well sofar.
Two days ago, Classmate slapped Kate across the face at extended day. As far as we can tell, this was unprovoked or, at the least, an aggressive reaction to normal play. Kate didn’t tell on Classmate, but our older daughter Flora did inform the extended day caretaker [name redacted], about the incident. We do not know what action was taken at that time.
We have asked Kate to report any aggressive action of Classmate’s to the nearest adult immediately. We have also asked Kate to not play with Classmate, or to avoid Classmate if the girl seems to be in a bad mood or troublesome.
We are worried about Kate being the target of Classmate’s aggression. We would like to speak with you about further actions we can take to protect our child. For the record, we don’t think Classmate is a bad child. However, her behavior is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If Classmate’s parents and step-parents need to be brought into the conversation, we are willing to meet with them also.
Thank you so much for your prompt attention to this matter. 

The principal wrote back to Dan and me, saying she was going to speak with the extended day caretaker, Classmate, and Classmate’s parents. I thanked her, and I’m not going to pursue this further with the school unless I have to.

12 thoughts on “The Principal’s Office

    • Believe you me, mama, it was very, very difficult. Especially since the offender was actually up in my grill about something else when Kate told me. Also: SO GLAD Dan wasn’t on pick up duty.

  1. Yikes! What a situation to have to navigate. There’s so much to consider in addition to K’s safety. Sounds like you are really handling it the best possible way, making sure your daughter is safe without definitively wrecking the friendship…if it really is a friendship.

    • Yes, that last is part of the problem, isn’t it? Kate adores Classmate, and the girl can be very charismatic and sweet. I truly think she’s a good kid, and she and kate can be friends. However, I think Kate is the target of her aggression because they are close and because Kate won’t do anything about it (tell on her). I think that’s because of the Kate-Flora dynamic more than anything else. I was proud of Flora for telling on Classmate; I think she was trying to protect her sister. Kate will, I hope, learn to be more discerning in the people she chooses as friends.

  2. My kid told me that a boy hit her during class the other day but not hard, but she did nothing about it. I told her no one should be hitting her and if he does it again, she should tell the teacher right away. I realize there could be “playful” punching going on, and that is why I did not make a big deal about it (and I forgot about it, actually, until I read this post). But why even try to justify it. There is really no ambiguity with slapping. I hope it works out, and I hope the parents aren’t the kind who think their kids can do no wrong and/or try to turn it around. I see that a lot as a parent and a sub. And it is particularly frustrating for me when I hear a parent complain about a teacher, saying she has picked on their kid who is not doing anything wrong, when I have seen said kid be rude or mean time and time again.

    • I’m very apprehensive about the parental situation. We’ll just have to see what happens. And, sure, rough housing is one thing (and something Kate is guilty of and guilty of taking too far), but a face slap is a completely different thing.

      I hope things work out with your daughter too! Adults need to be trusted to do the right thing.

  3. Isn’t this where an NFL player comes in and does a PSA about bullying and everybody gets a tear in their eye and learns an important lesson? No? Or did I see that once on a special episode of Blossom?

    Well, then I guess it has to be addressed the old fashioned way. By parents communicating and the school dealing with it.

    Seems like everyone is doing their jobs so far. Nip it. Nip it in the bud.

    • Right? I don’t want to get confrontational with the school or parents, and I hardly want to paint this little 5-year-old girl as a bully. But there is a problem here, and my duty and loyalty are to my child and to protecting her. I hope this will be the end of it.

  4. Holy smokes she SLAPPED KATE??!! I would be LIVID! You are handling this so well, way better than I think I would. I hope things are sorted out quickly, poor Kate!! Gah this part of parenting suuuuuucks.

  5. Things have changed, or it’s different out here. Maybe it’s a rural thing; we don’t have a lot of police and they’re widely spread out.
    When I was a kid, I was bullied by four bigger girls. I think because I was smart, but I’m not sure. In Fourth grade we suddenly started being expected to group into ethnic groups, and my best friend at that time was Hispanic. These girls were Hispanic and not too long after this my friend told me we couldn’t be friends anymore. At any rate, when I told my parents they were following me home and pulling out my hair they wanted to know why I hadn’t defended myself. I hadn’t because they were bigger and I was scared, but that’s what I was told to do. I remember vividly being told that if you aren’t willing to stand up for yourself people were always going to walk all over you. As the youngest of six I had found it easier to be quiet and avoid conflict because I was NEVER going to win a physical fight. I think that’s why I ended up competing intellectually instead.
    I told my sons to tell a teacher or an adult but the majority of the family including their dad were very clear that you have to be willing to defend yourself. A responsible person never starts a fight but doesn’t let anyone use physical threats to intimidate them either. They’ve rarely been in a fight, but they are willing to defend themselves if necessary.

    • Yes, I’m not a big advocate for violence, but if true bullying becomes a problem for my children, I’m not above teaching them a) self defense and b) how to throw a punch. At this age, though, I’d rather teach them to stand up for themselves by walking away, if you know what I mean.

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