Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Coulter's Experience So Far
Many of my friends have asked how school is going for Coulter. It has only been two weeks as of tomorrow but I am hopeful for his first year at the Ivy School. As I wrote previously, he missed his first day of school and I was worried for him but he bounced back and had a great first day. They spent the first couple days getting to know each other and talking about how the classroom will function.
On the following Monday, he was excited to go to school and that had not happened for quite some time. I got a call around 1pm from a teacher. She called to tell me about an incident that involved Coulter. She said, "Everything is fine and Coulter is fine." to assure me Coulter wasn't hurt or anything. She explained that a kid in his class had bullied him. She was talked to but didn't back down. She eventually pushed Coulter and one of the teachers witnessed it. She was taken to the office, her mother was called, and she was sent home. That is the information I got from the school.
Coulter experienced bullying at his last school and I was very worried about him and how he would respond to this situation. I went to pick him up so I could be there and support him. I was a little early so I waited anxiously in the lobby, I worried. Five minutes later he came out of his classroom smiling and with a bounce in his step. Wha???? I asked, "How was your day?" He said, "Great!" I was confused but happy for him.
On the way home I explained the phone call I received and asked him about it. He told me that the class was listening to a story and he and this girl had a disagreement about the interpretation. She was loud and getting in his space. He rolled his eyes at her and that was what pushed her over the edge. She said, "You rolled your eyes at me and now I am going to bully you all year long." She proceeded to shove him periodically throughout the day. She lunged at him, tried to trip him and grumbled at him under her breath. I asked if he talked to a teacher. He said that he did but it wasn't until he was pushed and caught by the teacher that they physically stepped in. They talked to her earlier but it hadn't made an impact. Coulter then said that she was sent home.
He couldn't put it into words why he was happy that afternoon but I think it was because he felt supported and cared for. Instead of hearing, "You need to work it out." as he had so often in the past, they did something about it. He seemed to let the whole incident roll off his back. In fact, he talked about the new friends he made, the games the class played and how they got a long recess and lots of freedom to move around. His focus was right where it needed to be, on the positive. This made my heart swell with pride and joy. He had handled it perfectly by using words and not being aggressive back. And the school handled it perfectly by stopping a physical situation with real consequences.
The next day I drove Coulter to school to talk to the teachers and ask if he had done something more to antagonize the girl. They confirmed his story, it was just the eye roll. As I was getting ready to leave, one of the teachers pointed out the girl's mother, then walked with me, and introduced us. The girl's mother was glad to meet me and was a kind and responsive mother. Just how I like them. She, like me, is not a parent that thinks or says, "My kid would never do that!" She actually said, "I know when someone says your daughter did _________. She did it."
We chatted and this girl's mother told me some back ground on her daughter. She wasn't making excuses but explaining. It made a lot of sense. Then the daughter walked by and the mother said, "Hey X, this is Coulter's mom. We are on the same page with how our kids need to act." And then she gave her the mothers all knowing stare. It wasn't said out loud but I heard...... "Girl, do you see this mother and I? We are on the same page and you better fall in line." The daughter nodded affirmingly and went to class. Her mother then said, "She knows we are onto her. She knows we are talking and this will make a difference." She was a lovely lady and I was grateful to know we could talk. I told her if Coulter did or does anything that I need to know about to please let me know. We agreed to stay in touch.
Over the next few days I asked Coulter about the girl. For a few days there wasn't much to report other than she wasn't bugging him. A few days later, he reported that she sat as the same table as he did at lunch. I asked, "How was she?" and he said, "Fine." I asked, "Why do you think she was nice?" and he reported, "I think her mom scared the crap out of her." And then he laughed heartily.
Since then I have talked to the mom who told me that her daughter said, "Coulter is actually pretty nice." The mother also had an interaction with Coulter and reported that he was very polite and charming. I told her, "He better be or else.... " We laughed.
The rest of his week was great. They all learned how to navigate the classroom and their day. Coulter made a few friends and now has a new best friend, Lily. There is lots of movement. They get a full hour of recess daily. The time spent learning is in bigger chunks and open to interpretatiion on how they learn. The Montessori method seems to be working for him.
After being so concerned about where to send him and not knowing what to do to help him, I am grateful. I am grateful we found a place where Coulter can be Coulter and not have to worry about being different or bullied. I am grateful that he feels safe and secure. I am grateful that he is strong and has a positive outlook. I am grateful that Coulter can learn how he needs to learn. So far it's all great. I pray that it stays this way for him. He is so much happier and that makes me smile. He helps when I ask him to and has generally been agreeable. This has been a great ride. JOY!!!! ……that is what I have to say about my feelings for Coulter’s experience at his new school. I'll keep you posted.