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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Scared to breathe

What a busy few weeks it's been.  On the positive side, my eyebrows are mercifully growing back and I haven't experienced anyone doubling up in hysterics upon encountering me.  Mind you, the whole sorry experience did end up costing me even MORE as I ended up having to enlist the help of my lovely beautician friend Ursula to try and make me appear slightly normal.  Come to think of it, she DID double up in hysterics...

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.


  1. I feel your pain, as the mum of a child with ASD and Severe ADHD who was suspended 3 x ( 2 of which I successfully appealed). Once they get a "bad name" anything they say and do is often seen in a bad light from thereon in.

    One of the suspensions was for bringing a NERF gun into school on a muck up day. Given his reputation, I did forbid him to take it to school and he disobeyed ... but the things my 3 brothers did in the 1970's at school would have labelled and jailed them terrorists nowadays.

    Another suspension in Year 7 was for him fighting back when 3 older, bigger boys had him in a tight head lock and he was losing consciousness so clawed and scratched one boy to get him to release his neck...what the..???

    He ended up spending time in 2 special units, one of which was awful and one better one and finally sent to an all boys school where he is now and has never been in any trouble at school since.

    Good luck.I am thinking of you all..

  2. i agree, political correctness has gone too far. kids are being victimised by this, and not allowed to enjoy their childhood.Ali sounds like any normal 14 year old xx xx

  3. I also wanted to add that when I was a Supervising Teacher for University Student Teachers I advised them that the best way to avoid discipline problems in a High School class was to have PETS. They looked aghast until I explained that PETS stood for Patience, Enthusiasm, Tact and a Sense Of Humour. Too many people working with kids have had a humour bypass.

  4. Aww Jackie - that sucks big time for all of you. And to answer your question - no - I don't think those incidences even come close to warrant expulsion. Whatever happened to people's sense of humour? It seems we can't do anything these days without someone's feelings being hurt. It sounds like you've made the best decision by letting him attend another school but it really does suck you had to go down that route :( Keep being the awesome mother you are - you have my admiration for turning out such fine boys.

  5. You prove them wrong Ali. You definitely sound like a normal 14yo to me and I had 2 who are now 34 and 30.
    I hope your new school is the best thing that ever happened to you!

  6. Oh for goodness sake - sometimes I think people need to stop being so over-sensitive and grow a sense of humour. Ali sounds like a likeable, normal kid .... please don't let the politically correct system change that in him. What a storm got created in that teacup. Sheesh, sometimes it makes me embarrassed to be a Kiwi the way people are so "precious" today.
    PC gone mad, that's for sure!

  7. my sister had a similar experience thru primary school. Was labeled by a teacher that didnt like her. From then on everything she did was wrong.
    wasnt even allowed to read a book on the bus because she was being unsociable!

  8. If he's throwing a muesli bar it doesn't sound like he's too scared to breathe. It sounds like he's still retained a bit of his old cheeky self and is just reigning it in a bit. Sounds like it has all worked out for the best. X Jane