Monday, September 17, 2012

Annie Goes Postal, Part MIXVII: The Bully is Back.

For all the anti-helicopter parenting rants and raves I spew, when it comes to someone fucking around with Luke, my Mama Bear claws are sharp as razors.

In other words....the bully is back.

Luke passively tries to co-exist with this boy, Tim, in order for him not to have his world turned upside down. He doesn't like the boy, but towards the end of the school year and the summer, they played peacefully together. (The other resident bully left the school this year, glory!) Tim routinely kicks Luke, pushes him around (despite being 1/3 Luke's size), and likes to throw his lunch garbage at my son, often encouraging other kids to put garbage inside Luke's lunch bag while Luke's off microwaving something. Petty, stupid shit. (Keep in mind, the rest of Luke's not-eaten-yet lunch is in the lunch bag in which Tim and other boys throw trash. Sickening.)

This kid is fond of throwing footballs in people's faces, just because he can. Because nobody, apparently, is willing to stand up for himself and just kick the living shit out out of Tim. Luke says they all either like Tim or are deathly afraid of him.

Yesterday was an epic, colossal wrongdoing by Tim towards Luke. (Not quite as epic as Tim deleting Luke's YouTube account entirely and Luke losing 250 handmade films since 2008, which YouTube wasn't able to retrieve and Luke didn't have all backed up on his computer. That was Luke's magnum opus, but Luke didn't cut the throat of Tim as a result, or even bring it up to his ignoramus parents.)

Big fans of the game Minecraft, the boys had each created their own universes along with a couple other boys in the class, each having his own space, over on XBox Live.  Luke and I had a little jaunt planned to the Apple store yesterday, and while we were gone (for an hour), Luke left his XBox online, vulnerable to Tim and his other friends. Neither of us thought twice about it. (I've since forbade Luke from playing with Tim online indefinitely.) While we were out, Tim decided to destroy about 3/4 of Luke's universe on Minecraft, work Luke had done almost all summer. No reason. Again, just because Tim could. Luke hadn't pissed Tim off. Tim's really, at his core, just a  little ill-mannered prick.

Bluntly, Tim effectively destroyed Luke's intellectual property. Again. You can't put a dollar value on the work Luke did either on YouTube or his XBox. It was months  (years on YouTube) of blood, sweat and tears he put into his online presence and has since lost his motivation to create new videos, now appearing as a novice channel when previously, he had almost 2 million views. His XBox universe on Minecraft included an exact replica of our church, down to the smallest detail, that Luke wanted to film online and give to Pastor Dave.  If I wanted to get really fidgety, I'd put forth the effort to sue Tim for his destruction of Luke's work and file for punitive damages and emotional turmoil.

This is not the first time I've had to report Tim bullying Luke. He's been doing it for upwards of 5 years. I've gone to every teacher, every principal, and NOTHING EVER FUCKING HAPPENS. There are no repercussions towards Tim, though the school's code of conduct clearly states that suspension is the punishment for harassing a fellow student. "Zero Tolerance Policy." The last time this bullshit went down, I talked to the principal, who's utterly clueless. She referred me to Pastor Dave to handle it. Hmm. She's in charge of the school (which is consolidated of several local Lutheran schools, St. Paul being the campus Luke attends) and passed the buck to our church's pastor. M'kay. Makes sense. (???? In any case, I left Pastor a message and perhaps a strong, male figure talking to Luke about assertiveness and upholding God's laws wouldn't be a bad idea.)

Enter knee-jerk reaction by Mom. Luke came in sobbing over what Tim had done when we got home yesterday. I shot some insanely insulting and vile texts to Tim's mother, who's a piece of fucking rat-ass work. The mom called me. A series of "Fuck you, NO, Fuck YOUs" went back and forth. The mom claims that Luke had destroyed parts of Tim's Minecraft world, when Luke didn't. The mom played the "your kid's not as innocent as you think" card on me. She said that Luke swears. Ooooh, big surprise. They ALL do amid one another. I heard Tim's father in the background calling me a "fucking bitch" and I was just completely and utterly taken aback. I had to tell the mom to tell her husband to be quiet so I could hear what the hell SHE was trying to say.

Pulling the immaturity retaliation card, I told Tim's mom, "Yeah, well at least Luke's being confirmed, unlike Tim." The mom was like "So what?" I said that Luke explained to Tim why he wanted to be confirmed into the Lutheran church and what it meant to him, and Tim rejected the idea. You can't fault Luke for witnessing. The mom's great comeback? "At least I'm not divorced!" Oooh. What a dig! (NOT.)

But what do you expect, after I called Tim a "fucking asshole stupid prick." (Yes, I ended the conversation by apologizing for my gut reaction, though in hindsight, I was totally right.) She insists Luke has gone in and wrecked parts of Tim's Minecraft universe, and Tim thinks it's no big deal and just rebuilds his world. Bologna. Luke has never gone and taken apart anything in anyone else's universe. He's never destroyed anyone's hard work. The mom was out-and-out lying to me, playing the "I'm a better mom than you are" card at that point, because she's raised 2 boys and I've raised one pansy.

Luke's not a liar. Luke also can't be accused of "running to his mommy" with all of his problems. The mom's thing? "Boys are boys, and they fight, and they make up and go on." There's a delineation, however, between commonplace roughhousing and blatant abuse. Tim plays DIRTY.

Luke feels strongly that if he doesn't appease Tim, if he doesn't take his lumps as they come, he will face worse bullying and further disrespect from the few boys at school who ARE his true friends. He's leery of embarrassment. He's afraid of tattling. I tried to explain to Luke the difference between tattling and reporting to the teacher what is blatant bullying and abuse.

I had over 2 hours of reading for Ethics to do last night. Instead, I spent over 2 hours counseling my son, trying to wrangle in his father (who was at Riot Fest and couldn't hear us on the phone, so he was pretty much useless, apart from his suggestion that Luke text his real friends last night and put them in the loop before Tim had a chance to spew his lies and discredit our family, so Luke did do that).

I worked with Luke on questioning whom he wants to hold the power dynamic at school--he or the bully. I told Luke that the power is in his mind to overcome this issue, though he's very hesitant and scared. His self-esteem has taken such a beating at his school that he's utterly paralyzed to defend himself. I told him if the shit really came down, and after he attempted to repeat again and again, "No, don't do that," or "No, don't treat me that way," or "No, I don't want to be around you," that he had my endorsement to physically beat the shit out of Tim, who's a scrawny but fast little bastard.

The mom was mad that Luke videoed, on his iPod, an instance where Tim fell off the monkey bars and was crying. Luke maintains that he was videoing Tim throwing footballs at peoples' faces as evidence to show the teacher, when Tim climbed on the monkey bars, fell off, and wept, which Luke also taped. The mom heard 1/3 of the story--that Tim fell, hurt himself and Luke caught it on video. At the time, Luke was reprimanded by his teacher for having videoed it, but in my opinion, his evidence was justifiable. Hell, he should sneak his iPod into lunch someday and take a picture of Tim throwing all of his lunch garbage onto Luke's tray every day, or stuffing Luke's lunch bag with trash and encouraging the other boys at the table to do so as well. I'm fucking exhausted of this crap, truly.

The church families at the school? I have little, if no issue with any of them. Some of the strictly-school families, like Tim's? They can all rot in hell after 8th grade as far as I'm concerned. Luke asked me last night about Jesus' credo to "turn the other cheek." I said that in practicality, that doesn't really apply when you're being emotionally or physically abused BY someone. I don't think Jesus said that to open people up to enduring multiple instances of blatant abuse.

Frankly, I could care less about socializing with the other parents after school, as they all greet their sprouts at the school entrance, including This Mom. I'm quite content, actually, to remain anti-social, sit in my car, smoke and Tweet while I wait for Luke to meander to the car. He didn't want to go to school today, out of fear and embarrassment. I told him he had to face the music anyway, be brave and that if Tim causes him any more trouble, TELL the TEACHER. Why he HATES this idea so much is beyond me. I guess it's emasculating in a sense, which I get. But it's not going to get any easier in high school.

I don't buy that "boys will be boys" bullshit. My boy was raised intelligently, to have respect for his friends and treat them fairly and with care, not to pick on them, poke fun at them or prank them to death for years upon end. That's That Mom's poor, neglectful parenting snafu. The old adage that my family is getting used to is that of the "reasons why someone hates you: 1) they hate something about themselves and are projecting that hate upon you, 2) they wish they were like you or 3) they see you as a threat." I think all of those traits apply to Tim, honestly.

I'm not around school very much, probably to the delight of most of the parents. I'm uniformly reviled by the vast majority of moms and liked by the majority of dads, with few exceptions. I'm quite content to wait in the car for Luke to come out. This divorced pariah could give 2 shits what the other school parents think of me. I have to consider Luke's sensitivities and reputation, though.

But I'm utterly fucking serious that there are potential legal ramifications and punishment towards this twerp, Tim, for what he's done (and continues to do) to my son. Tim's parents think they're smarter than me because I have no husband? FYI, my ex-husband's not stupid, either, and when parent-teacher conferences come up, we will be back on the staff's ass about keeping an eye out for bullying and intervening. The societal insistence to believe the perpetrator instead of the victim of abuse extends into this school and somehow Luke gets deemed the not-so-innocent perp. I believe my son, who's not a conniving liar like Tim is. Supervision is lax at school, the administration is blase, and fine, if they want me to take my grievances up with Pastor Dave, I have no problem doing so, while trying to thin or cut the umbilicus between Luke and myself.

Luke's not terribly motivated to rebuild his universe or his YouTube presence, as a result. For now, fear is curling him up into awkward abandon of his passions, which is saddening and unfortunate. I told him, "I never give up. Give me one example where I have ever given up on something." Luke couldn't come up with one. I'm not a perfect person or a perfect mom, but as far as an example of fortitude, Luke can and should look to me as a fighter who could give a damn what other people think of me.

I urged Luke to regain the power in the dynamic between he and Tim. Right now, Tim has all the power because Luke tolerates the abuse, and that's just WRONG.

Yes, he needs to learn how to fight his own battles. But he needs to be taught the tools with which to do so, which I'm trying to teach him, though his reluctance is evident. We'll get there--via parental encouragement and his therapist's help.

Until that day when Luke asserts out.


best male friend said...

Tell Luke he should ream that little pipsqueak a new asshole. Seriously, the next time he throws garbage at your son? Tell Luke to topple his tray or his lunchbag over Tim's head. In front of everyone. This bullshit has been going on way, way too long.

Andrea Miklasz said...

I've tried teachers, year after year. I've tried the revolving door of principals. Another mom (who took her daughter out of the school this year) advised me to speak with the Board of Education at the school.

It's insane. It's always Luke's word-vs Tim's word. When Luke tries to covertly gather evidence of Tim being an asshole, HE gets in trouble for it.

PS, I'd laugh hysterically if I saw Tim fall off the monkey bars if I were Luke and I'd kick him in the balls for good measure while he was down. But that's just me.

Historically, as an alumnus of that school, knowing as many people as I do who've graduated from there, the school's policy (which goes directly against what's in the parent/student manual) bullying or harassing is that they do absolutely NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.

The principal told me to have Luke talk to the Pastor? And Pastor's going to do what to Tim, pray tell? No amount of Bible beating or God-fearing is going to stop this kid until someone hauls ass on him.

best male friend said...

This is a Christian school? I only ask, though I know it is, because no one seems to embody any sort of Christian spirit, if that's what they're into over there.

If they're so Christian, and advertise that as part of their "value system," their educational mandate, then Tim should've been expelled years ago.

This shit is nonsense, babe.

I know Luke's timid and he's a really great kid. And I disagree with parents who think kids should have to fight their battles alone, without parents' support. So you went a little psycho on the mom. That's Annie. So fuck it.

Go off your meds, call the principal every hour on the hour and see what happens. :)

Anonymous said...

Annie, Part of the problem, from my view, is that you have a son and not a daughter. If you had a girl, nobody'd say anything if you were defending your kid. But you have a son, and stereotypically, you're supposed to let him work out his own issues. Where is your ex-husband in all of this?

Andrea Miklasz said...

Yes, I have a son. A son who's been raised to be largely, though he has his moments of tomfoolery too, passive, kind and non-maleficencient.

Luke is not physically aggressive, though he can be passive-aggressive, intellectually (kind of like me, though passive-aggressive isn't how I'd describe yesterday's fuck-a-thon with Tim's mother or my blog entry, for that matter).

I'm trying to teach him, as is his therapist, to be more ASSERTIVE, not aggressive.

The YouTube deletion by Tim really threw Luke for a loop and really wrecked his world. He'd been at Tim's house, showed him something on his YouTube, and accidentally left the channel open. Tim went in and deleted his whole channel. This was over 4th of July. Luke never saw it coming and went to perilous lengths to get his channel and videos back, to no avail.

The Minecraft ordeal was just plain MEAN. Mommie Dearest maintains that Luke has deleted stuff in Tim's universe, when he hasn't. (There's another Luke, "Luke R.," who probably did it, Tim not smart enough to delineate between which Luke is which.)

Much of last night was me trying to teach Luke the concepts of assertiveness and standing up for oneself. And the difference between "tattling" and enduring "abuse."
I don't think I did a very good job, because Luke was depressed and didn't want to go to school today.

My mom's advice? For Luke to look Tim dead in the eyes (though he'd have to look several inches lower), stand on his feet and break his toes.

best male friend said...

Tell Luke he should abide by the eight-fold path of Buddhism instead. It makes a lot of sense:

» Right Understanding
» Right Thoughts
» Right Speech
» Right Action
» Right Livelihood
» Right Effort
» Right Mindfulness
» Right Concentratio

Kathy Biallas said...

Andrea, I'm with you. I would probably enlist other parents to report the bullying of their own children. I would then inform the school principal that he/she had two business days to punish Tim meaningfully or you would a) take your concerns to the school board, b) call your favorite local journalist, and c) bring a lawsuit for failure to stop bullying. Is there a PTA, and can you approach them?

Andrea Miklasz said...

There is a PTL, but they're more of a social-planning avenue group. The Board of Ed is in charge of the school.

I like your ideas, Kathy!

Because honestly, what Tim did wasn't just immoral. It was illegal for him to delete Luke's YouTube. He effectively pretended to be Luke.

And Tim should fall off the monkey bars and sob more often.

Rob Cheney said...

That sucks so much, feel bad for Luke and you. Kids do wind each other up but this Tim has taken to a whole new disturbing level and his folks dont sound much better. The schools anti bullying policy sounds as effective as a chocolate teapot

Andrea Miklasz said...

Rob, a chocolate teapot? That's too funny. You silly British people. Perfect analogy, though! :)

Rob Cheney said...

We are very silly thats why we dont have an empire any more and got kicked out of America. You can also say chocolate wok or fireguard

Andrea Miklasz said...

Luke had a good talk with Pastor Dave yesterday after school, and is receiving support.

His teacher is keeping a closer eye on things.

Tim's ignoring Luke completely. We uniformly agree that's fine by us.

I give it a week or two, before I ultimatum the staff into forceful action.

Though I dread sending Luke to school today w/something he has to walk away from and go microwave...ugh. Kids, keep your clammy paws off his lunch bag!