“Papa I never want to go to that school with a school bus again." (Because the former one didn't have a school bus, he had to drive his point home).
When Your Child Is Bullied, You Get Bullied Too
When my son changed schools in the middle of the term, he woke up the following day crying helplessly. He was done with schooling! I was working at Meru North and we were having these endless, always brutal performance meetings that forced us to wake up at 5.00 a.m. to attend. The presentations had already begun and we were randomly being selected for “butchering”. From the ongoing conversations, one could hear overt threats being cascaded from the top, well- fed chaps whose chief job description seems like it is to threaten the poor branch employees with sack.
It was at that heated moment when I received the cold phone call. It was my son crying. There is something magical about receiving a vulnerable phone call from your boy. Even if I was presenting and I was being roasted while on a pike, that shit could have waited. For all I cared, the world could as well as burnt itself into ashes. This was a matter of my national importance. So I went out to cry with my boy. I felt vulnerable too; because technically, I was also losing my job in installments.
So, when I picked up the phone call, he went like,
“Papa I don’t want to go to that school that a school bus ever again.” (The former one had no school bus, so he had to drive his point home).
I asked him why and he told me the teacher had beaten him. On day one? It didn’t make sense.
”Wooi, pole baba. Hebu let me speak to mum a bit.”
Before he could hand over the phone to his mum, he remembered something.
“Na kuna mtu alinifungia kwa choo jana.” (He refers to a fellow pupil as a “mtu“. It sounds ridiculous to me because those are more of “tumtu”)
I guess I elevated my voice a bit because the boy froze on the other side. But I was so worked up. I could see the fear of my boy in my mind’s eye as he wept in the dark while he probably half naked. And while in that stinky, wet toilet I could see the rascal having fun and being pleased with himself for welcoming the newcomer by locking him in the toilet.
I was still raging when my wife took the phone.
“Are you aware someone had locked him in the toilet from outside?”
“Yeah, he told me yesterday.”
“And is the teacher aware?”
I had to sit on a cold bench to focus. I felt like crucifying someone. Starting with the boy’s class teacher. When she released the kids to go out for a “poop” break, did she notice that there was a missing new child when others returned?
Funny how things turned out later when the story got followed up. The teacher noted that the boy had overstayed. Then I wondered to myself, what was she presuming the boy was out there doing? Chasing grasshoppers? Butterflies?
I had to give some suggestions as a good father would. I told his mother to call the teacher and request a small favour to smoothly assimilate the boy into the new school if she did not mind. I went back to the performance review meeting and I could care less. I kept on thinking about the incident. I knew it’d affect the boy and it never took a week before he started to refuse to take breakfast at home.
According to him, the food makes him feel like pooping. We talked to him and assured him that pooping was okay. At times he eats, and at times he throws tantrums. We also encourage him to take a dump in the morning and at times he takes it and other times he braves it; only to return in the evening rushing towards the toilets. It is like the bully forced him to change his bowel movement cycle.
I am very close to my boy and I listen to his endless stories that a 4 year old can tell. So, the other day he confided in me that one of his classmate had pooped on himself.
“Oh, I remember him. Na si uliniambianga huyo mtu anakuwanga mbaya sana?”
“Eee, anakuwanga mbaya sana.”
The story got my attention immediately because it seemed as if the moral arch of justice had been delivered by karma to the bully. My son told me how after the boy pooped on his pants, their teacher flogged him and paraded him before the baby class pupils for a good round of laughter.
That one got me thinking, if someone pulled such an act on my boy, I’d surely slap that school with a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all the parents.
So, when they bully your child, it is like they are bullying you twice.
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