I had a lot of parents and teacher friends reach out to me regarding yesterday’s post. A lot of parents telling me it gets worse before it gets better, and congratulating us on being proactive parents. And while I appreciate the comments and community, what struck me was what the teachers said.
After school text messages in groups lead to classroom distraction. It seems like a duh, but it makes perfect sense. That’s what happened in Jackson’s case. It never occurred to me before yesterday, but I have repeatedly told Jackson I don’t want him getting involved in the “drama” that finds its way into these group chats because I don’t want it messing up his schoolwork, but more importantly I don’t want it messing up his friendships, his responsibilities, and/or disrupting any of his classmates, making other kids feel alienated, or bad because they aren’t “in” the group, or because someone is being mean to them, which is what happened in Jackson’s case. The boy being mean to him, egged on by the girl who wanted them to fight over her, was starting a big ruckus about these group chats and being left out.
It’s group think. I see it now, but I was so caught up in the bullying aspect of what Jackson was dealing with in school, that I didn’t even think about the how the after school group texts had repercussions on the bigger classroom community. And now I’m teetering on that line of keeping him from chatting with his friends, which I do think he deserves to do after school and on weekends sometimes, or just shutting it all down because of a couple kids who didn’t respect the rest of the group.
Then I remember that my kid is a good kid. He’s respected at school for his honesty, willingness to learn, his positive attitude, his leadership qualities, and yes his kind nature. Maybe too kind. Too forgiving. And this was a good lesson for him on how to stand up for himself. To set boundaries with friends. At the same time, not all kids can stick up for themselves. Not all kids have the courage to be “different.” To be the kid in the group chat that says, “Hey, let’s not talk about this or that, or this person or that person.” But now my son does, and I hope he takes that lesson into everyday life as well.
Parenting is tough, y’all. I’m straddling this line of being considered “that mom” because yes, I gave my kid a cell phone, and yes I let him text his friends, but also I read every message. He knows that. And now his friends know that too, but I might be judged by others. Or I might be considered an “uncool” mom. I might ask too many questions, or read the messages through my skewed view of the world, but still I do it, and still I will continue to, and teach my son lessons like how to stand up for himself, how to be the bigger person, and how to be the best version of himself even when I’m not standing next to him. And I think as parents that is all we can do. Because at the end of the day we have decisions to make. Decisions in the best interest of our kids, and decisions, sometimes, in the best interest of others’ kids as well.
So thanks to the teachers, and mommies, and daddies, and friends who reached out concerning Jackson and the bullying he encountered at the hands of “friends.” (He’s actually not allowed to talk on text message with that boy he calls “Jerkface” anymore, but of course he will still see him around school. I’m just hoping things go well on Monday, and I don’t have to make a trip up to the assistant principal’s office.) Thanks for the support, the recommendations, and for sharing your own stories. Jackson learned some good lessons from this experience. And so did I.