A Bully Of A Different Sort
April 26, 2009
When I think of schoolyard bully’s, I think of big, burly kids who resort to violence to get their way, much like this kid. However, in the last several months since karate boy has started public schooling, it’s a different sort of bully that has proven to be problematic for us.
When karate boy started kindergarten, he quickly made friends with a boy named Ryan, and I was estatic. As parents we want to see our kids be popular, and well liked, and all the things that we associate with success. Living in small town America,I knew Ryan’s parents to have been popular, upstanding members of our community for as long as I can remember. It appeared that he was on, what I thought was the right track. But, we all know appearances can be decieving.
It wasn’t long before Karate Boy started coming home telling me tales of Ryan’s antics. Apparently, one of Ryan’s tactics to get his way is to tell the other kids, “I won’t be your friend if you don’t”……..or do, or whatever fits the bill for what he desires. I call it emotional bullying. I soon found my little Karate Boy asking me to pack his lunch, because if he ate cafeteria food that day Ryan wouldn’t be his friend. He professed to not eating green beans because if he did, Ryan, “wouldn’t be his friend”. He came home in tears more than once because Ryan chose to alienate him from the group that day at recess because Karate Boy didn’t want to play Star Wars. He came home upset that his choice for that day’s show-and-tell didn’t meet Ryan’s expectations. The list goes on and on…………..and on.
I gave my advice to Karate boy and told him what I thought was the right thing to do, what I would do now, in my infinite adult wisdom. “There are plenty of other kids you can be friends with”, I told him. “You do what you want, not what Ryan wants”. “If he doesn’t want to be friends with you it’s truly his loss”…………..Basically, I was trying to say, “Tell Ryan to Bugg off”.
Last winter Ryan came to Karate Boy’s birthday party (sans RSVP’ing, a major pet peeve of mine). Karate boy got duplicates of one of his presents, and Ryan told him, “Good, you can give the other one to me”. Karate Boy handed it right over, and I had to be the bad guy, taking it back. Anything to please Ryan, Karate Boy does. So much so that the day Karate Boy puked at school all over his desk, and I found out that Ryan’s reaction was, “That was cool……do it again”. My response was, “You didn’t, did you?”. It honestly wouldn’t have surprised me if Karate Boy would’ve forced himself to puke just to make Ryan happy.
At the school’s family reading night parents were supposed to be reading to their children individually. As I attempted to read to karate boy Ryan was running amock amidst all the parents and children, while his mom sat back, not even attempting to control him, or keep him from distrubing the other participants. I tried to make the most of it, attempting to interest the two of them in our book, but understandably, our book choice didn’t live up to Ryan’s standards, and in the end, very little reading was accomplished.
I knew that Ryan’s mom and dad had divorced a few years ago, and since then he’s been coddled by his mom. His actions are probably habit for him, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, even though he was beginning to get on my nerves.
My feelings of sympathy turned to feelings of anger last week. Spring pictures were delivered recently, and Karate Boy took several of his for exchanging, whilst coming home empty-handed. With some prodding, he admited that some of his classmates had given him pictures of them, but Ryan wanted them, and of course, wouldn’t be his friend if he didn’t hand them over. Later that week, on chicken nugget day, I asked Karate Boy about his lunch choice, commenting that I knew what he got, because nuggets are his favorite. He professed to getting a “snack pack” (cold sandwich, chips and fruit) because Ryan told him that he wouldn’t be his friend if he didn’t get a snack pack like him.
I’m not alone in this either, I’ve talked to several other moms who have had the same problem with Ryan. One mother told me that she chaperoned a recent field trip and was really frustrated by the way Ryan acted the entire time, pushing himself in betweek Karate boy and her son, who are also good friends, and green with envy every time their full attention wasn’t on him. One mother professsed to me that her son asked specifically for Ryan not to be invited to his birthday party last winter, saying that he would just cry and act like a baby and ruin the party for everyone.
The problem that me and the other mothers involved have is that our kids continue to give in to Ryan’s antics. They want to be accepted so bad by Ryan that they do whatever it takes, including eating cold sandwiches when they want chicken nuggets. I don’t know what to do about this situation. I suppose I’ll just wait it out, and hope that one day Karate Boy realizes that Ryan is not the kind of friend he needs.
There is a possible silver lining to the Ryan situation. Last night, while he was running around minimally supervised at the local carnival, he told us that he may be moving, and going to a different school in the district next year. Although I hate to see Karate Boy lose one of his “friends”, and I know that the last thing Ryan needs is more upheaval in his life, I couldn’t help but think, “we could be so lucky”. Even if we’re not so lucky, we will at the very least be free of Ryan and his poor nutritional influences for a few months this summer.