As it turns out however, my eyebrows ended up being the least of my problems over the last few weeks. Ali has been embroiled in a series of dramas over - well, over nothing really. Even so, it has culminated in him changing schools by his own choice before he got involuntarily kicked out. I know, serious stuff, huh? In all the years I was at school I NEVER heard of anyone getting expelled. As the boys have grown up and gone through school I've heard of quite a few instances of people getting expelled for offences such as drug use or assault. Fair enough too! I have no problem with bullies being kicked out either - if they really are bullying.
It seems in this day and age though that bullying has an extremely broad description. I should know as my youngest son apparently has a 'history of bullying'. I'm the first to admit Ali is no angel. After all, he was involved not so long ago in the infamous 'penis sculpture' episode. But at least his sense of humour is alive and well. I honestly think these days that people are so busy bending backwards to be politically correct and please everyone that they have lost theirs.
Now don't get me wrong; I know how serious bullying is and if I thought any child of mine was physically or verbally causing real harm to anyone else they would be in for some serious consequences, not to mention a boot fair and square in the backside! But take a look at the following. I would love to know in all honesty whether this catalogue of events really constitutes bullying? Does it look serious enough to you to warrant threats of suspension and expulsion?
Incident 1. Ali called a ginger kid 'ginger'. The child in question was a friend of his, he said it in jest and his friend laughed. He was sent out of class.
Incident 2. Ali 'teased another child about his body odour'. The child in question farted in class, Ali laughed and said 'Did you just sh*t your pants?' and the child went running to the dean. Now call me a bad mother but I ask the same of Liam at least once a week and I don't think he's been scarred for life.
Incident 3. Ali 'intimidated a teacher'. To this day, neither Ali or the teacher involved knows what he actually did but the meetings and discussions carried on for days and Ali duly apologised to the teacher for whatever it was he was supposed to have done and cleaned the teacher's classroom as punishment.
Incident 4. Ali 'deliberately upset an overweight child by talking about food in his presence'. Never mind that the friend he was talking to at the time was actually larger than the child who took offence. As Ali pointed out 'So if people DON'T talk about food in front of me, does that mean I'm being bullied because I'm skinny?'
Throughout these instances he was withdrawn from class and put in isolation. There were many more times he was also sent out of class for talking, laughing and holding his tongue wrong. In the end he was spending so much time in isolation that we decided if nobody was going to teach him there we would take him somewhere that would. So we did and he hasn't looked back. He is in all the top classes, is earning top marks in all his subjects and hasn't been growled at once. Brilliant!
Unfortunately the whole chain of events has left Ali scared to even breathe. I answered my mobile this morning to a terrified Ali who was worried he was going to be suspended for throwing a muesli bar. The muesli bar hit another child by accident and Ali immediately went and apologised and offered him his fizzy drink but he was still convinced he was going to be dragged into the principal's office for his crime. Makes you wonder in the end, who was the one really being bullied?
As for me, I'm afraid I've been left feeling pretty disillusioned. Ali has wanted to be a marine biologist since he was nine, yet found his career dreams already at stake at the age of 14. And over what? It seems to me to be almost laughable but like I said, I think a lot of people's sense of humour shrivelled up and died with the introduction of political correctness. As I told Ali, the best revenge he can have on all the people who have labelled him a bad kid is to do as well as he possibly can at his new school. That's what he's doing and he's loving every minute. Good on ya mate.