I prefer not to blog about blogging. I feel it to be dull. I would rather blog about life. Sometimes, when you blog; the blogging spills over into your life. Bear with me for this one blog. It is going to be about blogging. It is going to be about life.
My child was hurt and bullied. Fact. Hurt in a variety of incidents. Hurt when other children turned their backs on him. Fact. Not the sort of facts you want around you. But real, damaging and out there. Fact. Fact. Fact.
When a child hurts; a mother feels the pain. More fact. She thinks: "What can I do? My child is hurting. I must make it stop." I am "the Mother who Blogged." Shame on me. Shame. Shame. Shame. A mother will, of course, defend her child but I could have been more British. Shut the door. Had a quiet word. It would have been sorted out. I thought about it. And, then I wrote about it.
I blogged again, and, once again. What can I say? It gets to be a habit. I "virtually" bent my blog over backwards to explain that staff acted swiftly and with consummate professionalism. As keen to turn things around, as they would be if my child was their child. In a way, my child is their child. They have introduced a friendship bench and buddies, more supervision in the classroom and directed play at break time. They are bringing in a behavioural expert and a new anti-bullying policy. I could not have asked for more. I am grateful for every moment of thought they have put into turning things around. I could weep over them with gratitude, each time I see a casual kindness to my child. A word. A sticker. A small hand taken and held.
As for whether it will work. I hope so. It seems to be. In the last little while, my son has not said, matter-of-factly, that nobody wants to work with him or that he spends his break time watching others play. I think "all being well", "fingers crossed" and "let's hope so", it should "come good."
My son is too small to ignore his feelings of hurt when children do not want to play with him, or when some child kicks out. Luckily, I am older. Old enough to enjoy certain ironies. To pretend I have not noticed snubs and coolness from women who would spend smiles on me quite happily before. That there are now women who do not pass the time of day as they might have done before. I am so old that I can choose to smile at someone whose face is tight with disapproval when she sees me. Someone who can scarcely bring herself to reply to an everyday question. And, I can take at face value, a sweet soul's concern for me because of the "upset" I have created. Luckily, I am a grown-up and not a child. If I were a child, I might think that I was bullied and tell my mother. Then, there would be trouble.
A wise fellow pastor once told me, when I complained about others who cause turmoil, that sometimes we have to shake the apple tree to collect the fruit. That message has stuck with me for many years.
You've shaken the tree in your new community by blogging about your's son's distress, but by doing so you have provided fruit for countless other moms and dads (as well as your own son). New policies on bullying should be happening in EVERY school. Churches should have open eyes to this as well.
You don't need scolding. You don't need a medal for bravery. You just did what's right, led by your heart. God bless you and your family.
Putting my ugly mug above the parapet again.....
Mrs R and I feel for your situation. When you're in the emotional centre of the bullying furore it is SO difficult to be objective when tears fall and words splutter out.
It sounds like the school is doing its very best - it's a matter of YOU being positive and firm but it is difficult when your child is reluctant for 'more fuss' to be made to stop the problem.
I stood with Mrs R when we had this problem and we are slowly winning through. As Frank Zappa once admirably said, "Keep kicking against the pricks!"
I have just come back here after writing about bullying on my own blog. WITN, I feel for you, I don't know what you could have been expected to do differently. I wonder what the other women would have done, had a fight between themselves?
The most important concern is your son and you have done what is right for him and as a result will have helped others.Because you have helped this time, hopefully he wil not be afraid to tell you if there is ever a repeat. Hold your head high, I'm sure it will blow over. Good luck.
So, what's actually happened?
Has someone from school read your blog and taken umbrage?
You could hardly be surprised. You haven't exactly minced your words regarding your feelings about the local community. Of course, you don't have to - it's your blog and you can say what you like. But, equally, you then have to accept the consequences.
What you are noticing as "snubs and coolness" and "disapproval" may be, in fact, embarrassment and guilt over whatever part their children may have played in the situation. Also, it could be the well-known human reaction of anger directed toward the messenger rather than toward the cause of the problem.
For what it's worth, I think it is good that you blogged, so that others far and perhaps near can try to reassure you that you did the right thing. Nothing can be more painful than seeing your child hurt and being unable to do anything about it. So if you have helped your child but lost some pleasant chit-chat with adults, you have still made a good bargain.
Time does tend to heal, and I hope that in time you have many good friends in the North, even including perhaps those not now comfortable with you.
a Grandmommy in the U.S.
Here we go again... What did you expect? A medal for trying to fit in and failing dismally? Oh well, I suppose your words are well written, it's a shame you didn't think about the consequences of your blog before you started blogging. People can actually read up North, you know, oh and believe it or not, they can access the internet. And yes, Northerners have feelings too. Even the women.
Good for you!
Hey, chin up old girl. It's late and I venture to suggest, you're tired. You can't go around worrying about what other people think - even in a relatively closed community. You did right, and you did right with the right intentions. Don't let faces that are rigid with disapproval deter you.
My blog today was about 'fitting in'. I think enjoying being individual or different is a purely adult thing - children suffer dreadfully.
I hope your little boy gets through this, although I am always sceptical of school anti-bullying policies which seem to engender a culture of tolerance towards bullies, despite their rhetoric.
I know that violence is not the answer, yet I can't help thinking that our anti-retaliation stance on bullying is the reason why the problem seems to have grown out of control in recent years.
As for your own freezing out by unfriendly mothers - it seems like they are the sort of people who get wound up by the guest lists for children's birthday parties. I hope you have realised that you aren't missing out on much.
It's up to others what they do, it's up to you what you do.
If you feel you need to blog about things that happen in your life, that's what you do. If others choose to read it, that's up to them.
If feelings are hurt, one could always try and use the ancient method of direct communication, talking. It's been known to work.
I write this having just come from the assistant principal's office at my own son's school. I think that what you have done for your child and his school is important. You went about it in the way that you knew best. Then you wrote about it as you write about other facets of your life. Others here have said that you should have expected the blowback from your blog. I have to say that I never would have expected it in your place. I would have expected the other adults involved to behave like adults rather than children. Follow your heart, dear. I think it's a good one.
for the poor wren, The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in the nest, against the owl. All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As little is the wisdom, where the flight so runs against all reason.
Gosh Anonymous 8.17, what a perfect person you must be, but you had best get yourself off to B&Q to buy another axe to grind. You have surely nearly worn this boring one down to its stump.
Wifey, you acted out of love and that love has made changes that will benefit all children. Bullies should not be tolerated in any walk of life.
My heart bleeds for you. I am a recent transplant to a northern town in America, and have been living the same life, down to the bluebells. You have gotten me through many difficult days, and I hope that some friendly words might do the same for you. Keep choosing to smile.
My heart alternately bleeds and goes into overdrive for you.
I feel both sorry and proud for your children. You've committed the terrible crime of inciting the green-eyed-monster, and that's a facile excuse for the bullying and the exclusion.
The "wrongs" they suffer will not be easy to live with, with an opiniated, articulate mother who writes like a dream. But your great heart, writing, and love with get them through this.
I was bullied as a child too. You don't need a million friends, you need one. good. friend. You need to help your son find that friend. Maybe a bit further out, maybe in an art or music class rather than in your local school.
You remind me of the Charlotte's Wed, she was a good writer.
Keep on keeping on. Spend part of your "mom" time helping your kids fit in locally, and spend part of it looking for alternatives within a reasonable distance.
That would be "Charlotte's Web", of course.
So many good comments today! I live in a northern New York State city. It does seem that folks around here tend to be "reticent" -- the cold weather tends to cause us to pull inside ourselves. But that does not have to cause unkindness.
I will never be old enough not to hurt inside when someone snubs me.
But one thing I am very sure of -- I want to know what someone thinks of me. I do not want a sweet smile and a "how are you" from someone who will then proceed to knife me behind my back. If you don't like me, or want to hurt me, let me know so I don't waste my time trying to return false "niceness". A very few real friends who are straight with me --both positive and negative -- and whom I can trust, are all I need!
When my son was bullied I talked about it non-stop to anyone inside or outside the school gates who would listen, just in case any of those within earshot was a parent of the little swine who were making my son's life a misery. The teacher's got sick of me and so did the assembled mummies. The problem got fixed but only after I threatened retaliation (desperate housewife!). That was in the days before blogging. If it was happening again now, I'd blog my ass off and make myself thoroughly unpopular no doubt, but if by doing so I got the message across that bullying needs to be stopped by parents, school and society in general, then OK. What you did was born out of maternal concern for your little boy - you used your own unique talent to bring the subject of bullying into sharp focus. The school has responded very willingly which is wonderful, but forgive my sneaking suspicion that maybe the fact that you are able to write about all of this so eloquently encouraged them to make even greater efforts?
As for the chill factor at the school gates, rise above. You did what you did for your son. We all approach problems in different ways and this was your way. Maybe instead of giving you grief the other mums should be thankful it's not their child who is the victim, and make sure it's not their child who is doing the bullying. Set a good example ladies, and drop the vendetta.
If anyone has noticed the accidental apostrophe in teacher's, may I plead insanity?
You should be proud of yourself by standing up against the bullying, both your son's and your own.
On the blogging itself, there is blogging and blogging. There are countless blogs that never reach outside one's own circle of family and friends. You then only have to be careful what you say about that circle - or not.
Once you have become public, that's it, you're meat and fair game. It seems that people forget they are in the end private musings. They don't profess to be educational, life changing or possibly even true. But that doesn't matter. They are not your private musings anymore. You've got a name and a face.
I've learnt this the hard way; I'm on my third blog.
You can’t please everyone. I should think that they are jealous of your success. You did the right thing with your son. The school were being too complaisant and now that they have taken action it will help other children. I moved to a remote village in Cumbria when I was nearly six and as a shy little girl with a different accent it was difficult to fit in. We were in temporary accommodation and luckily after a few months we moved to another village, only a few miles away but nearer to a town and it was easier to make friends, I loved school from that point on.
I enjoy reading your blog, it must be encouraging to have so many comments. Some that I read post week after week with only the odd comment, they must wonder whether anyone reads it.
I empathise with you. I am in that strange place between work and retirement and I find it very cathartic to write about it.
HOWEVER, it does get me into trouble simetimes, especially when I call my colleagues the "bloodless bottom line committee". That caused endless emotional upset.
Now I call them the "sense of humour transplant workers".
Blog on my friend. Let's set the world to right! Solidarity!!
Some years ago when i reached sixth form college at my senior school i trained and became an anti bullying campaign councilor. I had been bullied a bit at school and wanted to try to help.
I thought that it was good that my school was trying to do something about this. The only thing that put my back up was that some of the other girls (from the same year at school as me) who became councilors were in fact bullies.
I say good on you for doing something about it.
So many bullying stories and it's not just the children doing the bullying is it?
You write so movingly about your problems and we are moved, we do feel for you, we have, most of us been there.
I live in a small rural community. When my son was small, he told his teacher he was being bullied and by whom. The teacher assured me she would sort it out. She spoke to the parents of the child. The mother has refused to speak to me since. My son is now 15. She still does not speak to me, although we often find ourselves at the same party or school event, or in the same shop at the same time. At first it cut me to the quick. Now, I no longer care. No-one else feels that way about me. Others include me. The problem belongs to her.
But that doesn't make it right.
I know it's hard but just ignore them, those that are good will come around to you, those that aren't are probably not worth it anyway. In my experience when your boys move up to Middle School they will make new friends from other first schools and this episode will be forgotten.
I so feel for you. One of the most hateful things about being a journalist is the bitter grin and the comment 'ooohh, careful what you say, you'll end up in the paper'. I have lost friends and relations through writing and it's horrible. Glad you can ignore them, they probably hate you because you have a more interesting life than them too. And a book deal. Which of course you wouldn't have if you didn't write so you have to keep going.
"It's late and I venture to suggest, you're tired. You can't go around worrying about what other people think - even in a relatively closed community."
Hmm.. One would get the impression that Northumberland is like an Amish community - shut off from the outside world. I can't see why are surprised that people are 'acting differently'.
There may be some [young] people who would behave exactly the same if filmed 24 hours a day as they do in their private life. 'Big Brother ' wouldn't be watched by millions of saddoes if everyone was on their best behaviour.
And no would read your blog if it were a sanitised version of the truth. But bloody hell, some of the people in the village might not want to be in 'big blogger' - they certainly didn't volunteer for it, and I am certain you don't ask for their permission, or to sign some 'release forms' before discussing what is happening at school or the village...
Actions have consequences - if you can't live with that, stop blogging . If you want to keep blogging, then stop complaining.
And if you want to know where the answer to most of life's problems can be found, do what I do.
Look in the mirror..
london refugee - by attributing that quote to Frank Zappa, I think you are misleading people as to the meaning of that phrase, which was originally found in the Bible..
If you don't know what something means, don't use it as a quote.
Maybe your female friends are worried [understandably] that if they have a bad day, they may end up in the hot water which Geraldine Smith now finds herself in...
I'm afraid that as Brown and Cameron have resorted to exploiting their kids' problems for political gain, then you are in danger of being tarred by the same brush as 'collateral damage'.
Maybe you should set out some ground rules ?
Just a thought...
"Glad you can ignore them, they probably hate you because you have a more interesting life than them too. And a book deal. "
What a dreadful 'non sequitur'. If the lives of her friends, which is in the blog, were that bloody dull, then she wouldn't have a book deal ! And if she is looking down her nose at people because they 'have a less interesting life', then it is a self fulfilling prophecy that they are going to 'hate her'.
With a thought process like that, it is no bloody wonder the yanks ended up voting for George Bush..
Hmm..but can you not see that from a teacher's point of view it hardly makes their next Ofsted inspection something to look forward to if there are people in America who know that there has been an incident, if not, incidence, of bullying at the school?
They have enough to deal with now that phones have cameras in them and there is bollocks like 'RateMyTeacher' to harass them.
Tv companies now need written permission before filming school age children. Maybe a self-imposed code of conduct not to report what goes on within the walls of school is required. Just common sense..
"I have lost friends and relations through writing and it's horrible."
You have lost relations ? How ?
Did you shoot them ?
Did they shoot themselves [more likely] ?
Anonymous 2:27 - Bet you used a dictionary to spell "non sequitur". You've already proven you don't know what the phrase means.
In fact, I think you're the same anonymous as most of the other anonymouses (anonymi?) on the comments page. Have you nothing better to do on a nice Saturday afternoon?
free from care,
whether it is despised or received.
Continue to protect your son with civility and patience as you have been doing. And keep blogging!
At the end of the day you are only blogging truthfully about facts - if anyone's nose is put out of joint by you relating how your son has been treated then they should take a cold, hard look at themselves, their actions
and their attitudes.
School-run mum behaviour was the spark that started me blogging; I guess in a weird way they did me a favour!
Don't let them change one iota of your lifestyle and behaviour. Smile, say good morning and be your own lovely self. There is probably a fair chunk of jealousy in any tight-lipped stylings.
It will all be fine in the end.
Re Anonymous of 2.11
WITN is not complaining. She is sharing heartwarming and occasionally poignant vignettes.
From the outside looking in, Northumbrian village life sounds like a pretty closed community. Not totally unlike the Amish actually.
I guess the school-run-mums have to deal with a pretty and talented incomer. Not easy. Beating the incomer's children up might be one way of dealing with the frustration, but it ain't right. We all know that.
Anon above me, we are not a closed Amish community.
For one thing, this area is peopled by visitors from all over the UK (and a fair number from overseas)for half of the year. If we couldn't deal with people from elsewhere, this area would not be economically viable.
Why don't you try visiting before attacking?
You tell 'em eminem !! Why don't you suggest people visit your blog, in case they can't visit in person ?
It sure gives a more balanced view on life in the north than Wife In the North. And you have lived there a lot longer, so you should know..
If outsiders think Northumbrians are like the Amish, that is purely down to the dreadful bias and inaccuracy of this blog, rather than the people.
Hmm.. Look on the bright side, you could have ended up in Plymouth where getting kids to fight is positively encouraged...
Hey it was anon of 2.11 who made the Amish comparison.
By the way, I don't think Wifey is trying to give a balanced view of life in the north. She is giving us pictures of her life in the north. There's a difference. Isn't this whole blog about having a sense of dislocation?
I don't think Wifey is complaining when she tells us about her experiences of trying to settle in and her children being bullied. You do. Why is that?
Where is Rilly Super when you need her for advice ?
I do hope she is not too wrapped up in the problems of her grim life..
Rilly Super. Envy cubed. Why is that?
This is sort of funny if you think about it. Imagine the purple-faced goggle-eyed school-run-mums, perhaps parents of bullies perhaps not. Talk about cat among the pigeons. Or is it a case of pigeon among the cats?
"Imagine the purple-faced goggle-eyed school-run-mums, perhaps parents of bullies perhaps not. "
I'm rather surprised that they haven't started their own blogs, to be honest, or at least started to comment on this one...
Wifey is a journalist. Presumably she blogs to share the daily happenings in her new life and invite comment from the outside world,otherwise she would just keep a diary!(I like reading her blog because it is warm,witty and articulate.)
What worries me slightly though is that she might be sharing too many details about her children-when they are older they might not want all their friends/schoolmates reading about what they have done or did when they were younger.
Perhaps this is also why it is taking a while to sort out friendships,children and adult,if people think that they might be included in the blog.
It was good that the bullying was sorted ,but in such a small school surely Wifey could get to know the families of all six(?) children in that class and have human as well as electronic contact.(Maybe she has done that already and just hasn't blogged it!)
I don't think there is a South v North divide,more a London v anywhere-in-rural-UK divide.
Blimey wifey - you have really rattled their cages! Anyone who talks out of place will always do so-I guess . No one visits my blog despite all the nudie pics you sent me - do you think I am doing something wrong?
mutley - perhaps you could try talking a load of schmaltzy, cheesy, kitsch nonsense - the americans seem to hoover up that sort of 'have a nice day' nonsense with gay abandon..
I am lobbying to have their troops invade Scotland next, and have that all that lovely democracy introduced there, and get rid of all that hassle of having to decide whether Scottish or English people should get the oil revenue - we can just ship it straight to the USofA.
Gosh,WITN, you have certainly rattled a few cages! When it comes to mothers, some are over-defensive, think their little darling can do no wrong. Maybe mother of the bully has rallied the troops?
As I understand it, you started blogging to reach out in your loneliness- you now have, mostly, a supportive e-community,so ignore the ones who give you hassle.
One last thing- my kids go to a small village school too, and parents have a rota of school yard supervision: it's great, helps you get to know the other kids, helps the teachers and really lets you see what it's like to be a child in the playground, and greatly lowers the incidence of bullying. Good luck to you, and please keep blogging, I love it!
For anon 2:27 -- Please let's not group all Yanks as Bush fans. There are so very many of us who want NOTHING to do with him. We are working so hard to be sure he does not try to invade ANY country again! I think the worm has turned, over here, and that in Nov.2008 you will see a big change in trying to make the world toe the line with military force.
Anonymous 2.43 - please tell me you are only kidding when you say that what goes on in school should remain unreported - why on earth should activities within school be spared scrutiny when it involves our children? And why should teachers experience anxiety knowing that the school's inadequacies have been exposed (if that is the case) - surely it's a good thing to bring such issues out in the open if it helps to get them resolved? Keeping such worries "within the school" isn't "common sense" it's censorship.
I do not understand your comment that teachers may not look forward to Ofsted inspections because their school may have gained a reputation for bullying - has the school been named, did I miss something? Would people in America really give a damn about a small school in Northumberland even if they knew it's name?
I find it hard to believe that teachers' feelings are so delicate that a bit of school-gate (or blog-gate) gossip is too much for them, but should that prove to be the case then at least they have the summer off to get over it.
Sunshine, you are my sunshine. It is indeed despicable to group any and all Yanks in the same pro-Bush basket.
Wifey, sometimes I hope for a comment from you on a thread. But when I see what you have to contend with, I think I understand. Why, oh why, do you inspire such hatred?! I still think it's pure jealousy.
I don't know the geography of where you live in detail but I can't help but think maybe it would get much better if you only moved to the next biggest town.
Oh WITN, it's quite the war of words you've inspired in your comment thread. I've always found it amusing that so many people take the time to read something with which they have already decided to disagree. Anyways, with regards to the school gate sharks, I say take my grandmother's advice and kill with kindness.
Just last week I discovered that a very close relation and business associate nixed me from her wedding guest list because I'm gay. Naturally, I immediately went to her gift registry, got her the red cuisinart food processor, and sent it with a charming note of well-wishing. I can't wait to get her thank you in the mail.
ryan - scorching stuff !! you are a fucking hero !! Well Done - I wish I could pull off a stunt like that..
Where does the word 'nixed' come from anyway ?
p.s. I think you should crash the wedding and sing a chorus of Elton John's famous song 'I wanna kiss the groom!' [Is this right, Ed.?]
May be time for another blog now, this one is turning into a punch up.
If something like this happens in someone's life, they usually tell all their friends and relatives. These people know the person telling them, they know the child and they probably know the school and the community involved. Names are probably named. People and institutions are more than likely shamed.
Now, unless I've missed it, I have been given none of this information on this blog. I just know that someone somewhere in Northumberland has had a problem with her child being bullied at school.
As a UK resident, who regularly visits Northumberland on holidays (and loves it), I do have a sort of picture of area where Wifey lives but that's it.
Those people at the school are feeling over-sensitive when they worry about Wifey's blogging, because frankly she has been far more discreet here than you would ever be in real life if you were telling people about such a thing. The fact that people from other parts of the UK, from the US and elswhere know that this happened doesn't mean that we have ANY idea who was involved. Those who do know are still going to be locals, plus friends and relatives of Wifey, who would all have been given the full story anyway, blog or no blog.
All this angst about people "revealing" stuff on their blogs is a fuss about nothing, designed in my view to make the blogger feel guilty and distract from the real issue, which if I may remind people, was that a small child was being bullied and his mother did something about it. I hope we can all support that.
Which town in the north of the US? I live in Colorado Springs...
Living in the country in small communities is a minefield of personalities and people who don't always leave their own space! And every action is watched and noted.
From bitter personal experience we know that it's hard moving into established communities. It's also hard moving from south to north - but believe me, easier than moving from north to south! I wouldn't live in the south again even thought I'm from there originally.
Best advice is to join the village hall committee - you can meet more than 'Mums at the gate' and use your skills to develop a community blog!
Either way, bullying is not acceptable in any shape or form.
Personally, WITN, I thoroughly enjoy your blog. In my somewhat limited experience, school gate mums are some of the clickiest people around.
You should ask yourself whether you really want to be friends with such people - their rather narrow view of the world is their loss.
Keep up the blogging, and damn the whiners.
Ryan, I've just nixed you from my birthday present list.
Red is fine but blue would be perfect :-)
WITN, I'm delighted to hear that you didn't just stand for it when your child was bullied. It happens too much - always has, actually - and the damage can be unbelievable.
Unfortunately, some schools have policies that defy belief. I know at my daughter's school that 'the' school bully went one day without hitting anyone, or throwing chairs at teachers. He was about 9 at the time.
He was taken to play golf as a reward.
The huge number of days either side of that one well-behaved day he terrorised the other children.
Frankly, nothing effective was done until a large number of parents visited the school to see the head and make a formal complaint.
Guess how quickly the school did something then? And guess how quickly the boy's behaviour changed?
A climate of the wrong kind of tolerance is unacceptable where our children are concerned.
my son had his calculator taken from the back of his rucksack and smashed against the wall while he was walking to the car where I was waiting. The latest in a long campaign being waged against him. I try to make sense of this but how can you to a child who is sitting in the car crying his heart out. I have a good mind to find the little shit and kick his head in - even if he is only 12 years old and then to go after his parents who obviously can't teach him any better.
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