I was nervous as I approached Connie's front door given the aggressive approach by the Vice Principal, even though he clearly was on her side. The door opened and I was lovingly greeted by a very, happy dog. Connie was kind and invited me inside. Once I was able to navigate my way past the jumping dog, we sat in her living room. I began by apologizing for the Vice Principal's involvement and assured her that it never should have happened.
As soon as I brought up the fact that 3 different girls had approached my daughter saying that Jen had a problem with her, she became immediately defensive. Connie told me point blank that "PARENTS SHOULDN'T GET INVOLVED." I could not believe my ears! I could not have this discussion without at least making mention of her daughter's bullying the previous year that did not stop until I got involved. Even then, the bullying did not stop for about a week. It only stopped when the 5th grade teacher threatened Jen and her friend with suspension.
Then, Connie said, "Did the apology mean nothing?" I responded that while I appreciated the apology, the words "We didn't mean to hurt you" weren't true. The bullying persisted for months and yes, the girls did intend to hurt my daughter. Just as Jen's continued caddy remarks during the summer were intended to hurt my child.
I've heard other parents of bullies say this before. So, I was not surprised to hear her say, "So, what do you want to do?" I asked if she was open to getting the girls together in a neutral place to clear the air. Still clearly in denial, Connie did not appear thrilled at the idea of a meeting, but agreed to meet at the park down the street. On my way out, she invited my husband and I to a costume party she was having that night. I thanked her for listening and for her invitation.
Once again on my way to my friend's party, I knew that given Connie's demeanor, she would probably back out of the meeting in the park. Sure enough, the day of the meeting the phone rang. It was Jen calling for Hally. Hal hung up the phone and went running through the house shouting that she was looking for her shoes. My husband and I were struck by her excitement to meet Jen half way down the court. Off she went. It was one of the longest hours I have ever spent. I knew Hal wanted to handle it on her own. My husband and I thought how odd it was that Connie didn't call me to ask if the girls could meet down the street. Why couldn't she call? It was clearly Connie's way of cutting me out of the picture. Remember, she doesn't believe that parents should get involved in their kids' issues.
This is exactly what is wrong in this country! Parents do not understand the nature of bullying. Bullying is about an IMBALANCE OF POWER! The bully bullies and the victim cowers. There is no level playing field! It is up to parents to level the playing field, help children talk through their conflicts, and most importantly, achieve reconciliation. Without parent involvement and reconciliation, there is no end to bullying. We have to do better!