This post is only sort of about running. Mostly, it is about something that happened and the courage of a little boy who stood up for himself. I'm so proud that he is my son.
Last friday my son came home crying so hard I couldn't understand what he was saying. I finally calmed him enough to understand him say that an adult who works at his school had kicked him. Over the next hour the story continues to come out of him in fits and starts. My immediate reaction was denial. That doesn't really happen. Adults don't really do that to kids. Surely she was kidding around. If she was, it was misguided and certainly inappropriate, but not true abuse. Then I keep hearing more. And I see how upset he was. Within the next couple of hours I started getting phone calls and text messaged from other parents whose children came to them and told them what happened. Shockingly, the stories were very similar. It didn't seem like Ryan was exaggerating. They were playing dodgeball in PE and the adult in question was playing with them. Ryan hit her in the head with the ball on accident. She asked who did it and he said he did and that he was sorry. Was he wrong to hit her in the head? Absolutely, without a doubt. Her reaction though? She kicked him. Hard enough for him to fall to the ground. At this point the PE teacher said to the other adult something about getting in trouble. Ryan doesn't remember exactly what. But did the PE teacher report this to anyone? No, he did not.
After the period was over the class walked back the the classroom. On the way there he saw the person again. She taunted him. When her supervisor asked about it, she made the comment, "Oh, I kicked him in the butt." The supervisor laughed. Ryan then went to his classroom, crying, and told his teacher. She questioned him and questioned the class. Did she report this to anyone? No, she did not. Keep in mind, these people are all mandated reporters. My son was kicked, then bullied by the person that kicked him. And then several adults failed to make him feel safe by not doing anything about it.
The more I heard about this, the more upset I got. All I could think was that I wish it hadn't happened. Selfish maybe, but I knew I had to do something about this. And I hate confrontation. Saturday morning I called the Superintendent at home. I won't share the details as I don't feel comfortable doing that, but suffice it to say I wasn't really thrilled with the results. He acted like this wasn't really a big deal. He wanted Ryan in his office first thing Monday to meet with everyone involved. I was not going to let Ryan go into a meeting with all adults and have to tell that story. I informed the Superintendent of that and he said we could meet with him alone. When we got to the school and he started telling the story, he started crying. I can't tell you how hard it was to sit there while my son cried and talked about what happened. After the story, the Superintendent still didn't act like it was a big deal. I informed him of the steps I planned to take if he didn't follow the law in this situation. I'm pretty sure I'm not high on his list of favorite people. Then he had Ryan write down what happened. Ryan was shaking the whole time. He was so scared.
I won't share the rest of the details about what happened, as I don't think that's fair to anyone involved in the situation. I will say that I am satisfied with how things turned out. Could I have done more? Yes. Could I keep pushing? Yes. But I'm not, for a variety of reasons. Ryan is the main one. He asked me after the meeting yesterday if it could just be over. I don't want him to ever have to talk about it again if he doesn't want to. I don't want any kind of investigation. I wanted my son to feel safe at school and he does. I hope everyone involved learned something from this. I know I did. I learned that no matter how much I don't want to do something, if it comes to the safety of my kids nothing will stand in my way. I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. And I learned that Ryan and all of the kids in his class who reported this have a lot of courage. It isn't easy to "tattle" on an adult.
Now for the running part. I was sick about this all weekend and all day yesterday. I was just miserable. Then I went for a run. During the run I went over all of it in my head and really processed what happened. And then I just let it go. The run finally calmed me completely and allowed me to put this behind me.
Hopefully next time I blog it will be about happier, more lighthearted things. Until then, Happy Running!!