The Eye Of The Lion

The fourth little traveller woke up this morning looking pretty much the same as he did yesterday. I don’t know how to politely say this, but the bite on his eye has him looking somewhat disfigured. The shape of one of his eyes is almost lion like. He is my lion child, my one eyed lion child.

The third little traveller was in the bed with me this morning, he’s been having growing pains. An infliction his father also went through as a child. I’m currently moonlighting as a narcoleptic amateur masseuse. In the middle of the night he’ll wake me asking if I can rub his legs. And while I  desperately will him back to sleep I struggle to stay awake.

“Mum, you’re snoring!”

I used to be fantastic at getting up (and then staying up) with my children in the middle of the night. Not anymore. I struggle to keep my eyes open as I answer questions, bemoan having to head to the kitchen for supplies, and sleepwalk people to and from the toilet.

When the fourth little traveller landed by my bedside this morning, his first question was more of a statement.

“It looks better right? My eye looks much better.”

It looked the same as it did yesterday. Terrible.

“Yes, it looks much much better!”

The third little traveller chimed in.

“It looks really good, nowhere near as bad as it did yesterday.”

The fourth little traveller skip-bounced out of the room, he’s working on his follow the yellow brick road skip at the moment. The third traveller turned to me and said with urgency “You can’t let him go to school looking like that.”

Our fourth traveller worries way too much about what others will say and think. After watching him be slayed by comments in the past, I now see a boy who focusses on running with the pack.  It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines with advice “Who cares what they say?” and “You do what you want to do”, but the truth is that school often requires a skin with the combination surface of sandpaper and teflon. Rough enough to protect you from the barbs, while smooth enough to let the comments slide right off.

“You really need to do something about your eyelashes” said a little girl to the second little traveller recently. “You should go to the bathroom and wash your eyelashes, they’re gross.”

Our second little traveller has the eyelashes of a camel and had the remnants of sleep dust, her math partner felt the need to make a public announcement about the situation.

“I’ve just worked out what the problem is with our math group” she said the following day to the team while focussing on our traveller “you’re really stupid aren’t you?!”

The second little traveller shared this with me after dinner. “Can I talk to you alone Mum?”

She told me that it was hard to know if the girl was being really nasty because every time she said something cruel she ended it with a “just kidding!” She told me she’d gone to the teacher and asked to be moved, she told me she avoided this girl “most of the time.”

“Do you want me to talk to the school?”

“No. I think she’ll leave me alone once we’re not in the same group. I’ll wait and see, I just wanted you to know.” There were tears, but she wasn’t broken. Just hurt.

My initial feeling was to track down the child and throat punch her in the middle of the classroom, while shouting obscenities and using prison terms for how it was all going to end.

And then I calmed down.

My own children have said terrible, nasty things. That’s what children do. Last year one of the little travellers became so irrationally angry with a little girl that he said something impossibly mean – it took my breath away. I was sure that the information had to be wrong, not my child? When G and I confronted him his face turned red, his hands were shaking and he began to cry. “She just wouldn’t leave me alone. I just wanted her to leave me alone”. He wrote a letter to both her and her parents and hand delivered it to their house. G watched as he read it aloud and stood by the door as he shook hands with the family offering his apologies. Meanwhile I sat at home and readjusted my parenting tiara. That night when we spoke he told me “I don’t think I’ll forget today for a long time”.

The fourth little traveller came with me to grab a coffee this morning, as we lined up at Starbucks the woman behind the counter screeched “What happened to your eye!” he gave her a lengthy explanation, she put whipped cream on the top of his hot chocolate. When we picked up the bagel from Tim Hortons the woman lent forward and said “What’s wrong with his eye? Do you have ointment?” I gave her a blow by blow account of our trip to the doctor. As we made our way out of the mall (via the shoe shop) I ran into a friend “how’s that….OH WOW LOOK AT YOU” she smiled.

“Thanks for letting me stay home” said the fourth little traveller as we drove home.

“You know you have to go tomorrow. You can’t stay home again. I could always dress you as a pirate?”

“Oh My God Mum – now that would be embarrassing”.

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  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    I was meant to read this just now!!! Wanting to throat punch another child who just wants to be nasty for the sake of nasty is a feeling I’ve been fighting all day….not to mention the mother involved as well! I just shudder to the bone whenever I get asked, “Mum, can I talk to you…alone.” I used to worry about sex questions and baby stuff. Now it’s social survival and the impact of mean and nasty. I struggle… we are working really hard at teaching them to stand up for themselves and speak out; don’t run away from it. Then the strongest instinct to defend their honour (and hurt someone) just take over! Jeeez people! The apology letter and owning up to bad behaviour….thank goodness it’s not just us. Sometimes I wonder if WE were the ones raised by wolves. Other adults drop their jaws when we tell them that we make our kids own what they do. Parenting tiara, yes. Followed closely by physical harm and confession. Thanks for this! I might just get some sleep tonight.

  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Having just been through a nasty and prolonged bullying with Mr 15 (he was the victim) I want to take your wonderful story just one step further… there is a difference between occasional losing it (like your little traveller) and bullying. I would even go so far as to say that two individuals can say the exact same words and yet one is bullying and one is not. The difference is – power. Bullying is the exercising of power and control over another, for the sake of hurting. Your traveller had an outburst, at his (or her?) wits end to stop a problem. That’s not bullying. But the ongoing nasty comments with the disclaimer “just kidding” is bullying. And totally passive aggressive I might add. The other kids in the group who don’t speak up are also by-standers and the bully has them in her power too – who would want to speak up and potentially be the next target?

    Your #2 traveller is in a tough spot. I’m glad she has taken the step of protecting herself and avoiding. For us, it wasn’t enough as the bully just kept circling in closer and became unavoidable. After speaking up, police were involved, charges were considered (but not laid, by my son’s decision) and the bully was suspended and voluntarily went to a different school. Problem solved for us, but I’m sure he will simply move on to a new target.

    KEP below, you’re right, the toughest questions for teens are the social survival skills. I wish I hadn’t been through it but feel like Mr 15 is now a stronger, more empowered person because of it. The worst thing is that he didn’t want to speak up because of fear of reprisal. What a terrible catch-22 to be in! We were able to report anonymously (although with full consultation with the Principal) and now Mr 15 knows that it can stop. Sooooo glad it’s over!

    Sadly, the bully in our case never apologized and his father, 4 doors down from us, never said a word either. I hear they are moving. Good.

  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Your story sent shivers down my spine. I can’t imagine how bad things have become when the police have to be called in?

  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    It’s just so darn navigating the school yard – for everyone. Big kisses to all xx