Update on the disturbing little incident.

Well…after knowing how much my highly sensitive daughter was traumatized last night by her sister’s friend, this was one of those things I couldn’t let slide under the carpet. But before I confronted his mother, I asked my daughter’s first grade teacher that we see every time I pick her up from science summer camp at school what she thought about the friend taking a pocket watch and waving in front of my oldest daughter’s face and saying “I’m going to hypnotize M to kill [her sisters] K and E at midnight tonight”.

M’s former teacher told me two things about it: 1) that some kids say things for the shock value of it, and 2) that if he said that at school and a teacher overheard it, he would be expelled (no tolerance policy for that kind of talk).

I’m grateful to know that M’s former teacher agrees that for a child like my highly sensitive, anxious daughter K, I’m not overreacting. No child should not have to go to bed terrified that her sister is going to come and kill her in the night.

So…with that in mind, I confronted the boy’s mom, and fortunately, the boy’s father happened to be home as well. Of course the boy denied it at first, but my oldest daughter did indeed confirm the story. She hesitated a little, but only because she knew he’d get into trouble for it and I know she doesn’t like to rat out her friends if she could avoid it.

And of course, the mom told me, “Well, I asked K if anything was wrong when she wanted to go home early and she said, ‘no'”. (I know my K, she always wants to be wherever her sisters get to go to. She would never want to go home unless something was really wrong).

That’s when I said, “um…she has SELECTIVE MUTISM…she’s not going be able to tell you if she’s terrified to do so.”

I also mentioned what the former teacher told me about how he’d be expelled for saying that in school. So, the mom agreed that a break was needed between the kids. She said, “what, like a week?”. In my mind I was thinking that was not enough, so I said that “I’d have to check with my husband first, but I would think at least that much followed by making sure the kids are always within earshot”. She replied, “well, then maybe it needs to be longer, because I’m not about to be supervising them that closely”. So much for expecting the parents to help me build back trust.

And of course another friendship is going to bite the dust. Since she lives on my street and our kids had been close friends, we had done quite a bit of kid-related activities together – brought our kids to the park, gone to school related events together, and she even brought me to her Girls’ Night Out at her church a few times. Towards the end of our conversation, it was becoming clear that she was getting angry with me.

If it weren’t for my blogs and my internet friends, I’d really start thinking I’m not meant to have any.

This entry was posted in highly sensitive child, my stories, On friendship, selective mutism. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Update on the disturbing little incident.

  1. Spacemom says:

    TO be honest? I am surprised that a school would consider the word “killing” as a reason to expell a child. I think the schools should work more closely with kids like that because clearly that had learned the word and may not fully comprehend the meaning.

    At the risk of pissing you off, I have to agree with that mom only in the sense that she doesn’t see selective mutism. She has been with your daughter, but that is different from living it.

    Maybe you can suggest that her child come over to your place where you can listen to the kids. Then, when you feel comfortable, you could let them go back to her place.

    Here’s a question to you: What are you looking for with the break? Do you think you should have your children end this friendship? Do you think you should have your older daughter protect the younger by saying “hey, that’s not nice! You’re scaring her!” What are your goals?

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    No, Spacemom – it doesn’t piss me off, but thanks for warning me it might.

    It’s a number of issues with the boy that adds up to what could be a serious deeper issue. Once upon a time his mother told me she had to tell her son he shouldn’t poke baby animals with a stick or try to pick them up and be rough with them. That was an early clue he didn’t know boundaries.

    My 7.5 year old is not assertive enough herself to stand up for anyone (maybe not even herself). She is a mild-mannered child who doesn’t like to rock the boat. I don’t think it’s fair to ask a shy and demure 7.5 year old to police her friends that way.

    My goals are to keep this child at a distance. It used to be where he would come over every.single.day to ask if my oldest daughter would play. He’d get sullen when I said no. He gets defensive every time I correct him, and then when his friends pick on him, he whines how no one is being fair to HIM. But would have no qualms turning around and being mean to my girls. That I hadn’t ended the friendship long ago has been a huge effort for me NOT to be so overprotective and give the boy a chance to change.

    My oldest daughter doesn’t seem to be too upset by it. I told her I’d find her other friends to play with and she simply said, “that’s okay mom. C and J are my friends and I can play with them”.

    Trust me, I’m getting many opinions on this. I am about to ask my police officer friend who has a daughter K’s age how he would feel as both a father and as a police officer if his daughter was told the same thing.

    As far as the school goes, I believe that would be a form of bullying if not a downright psychological threat (of a sort). Some schools have zero policy for such things. To terrorize anyone (intentionally or not) is not really harmless.

    Perhaps the teacher mis-spoke and they wouldn’t actually expel the child (maybe suspend would be more like it). At any rate, I did find out that I can meet with the prinicipal two weeks before school starts to request that the two children not be placed in the same class (they may not be, but if they are, I can ask for a switch).

  3. Go with your gut. It sounds like you are doing the right thing.

  4. Jennaviere says:

    At the risk of pissing you off… 🙂 … I am also wondering what you hope to gain from the week off — or from indefinitely preventing them playing together. I mean, why not just sit this boy down and tell him what he did was unacceptable and tell him to not do it again? These are very young kids still and yes, they do things just to be sensational sometimes. Kids are always testing boundaries. The only reason this was brought to your attention was because (as you said) your daughter is highly sensitive. The reality is that most kids just brush this off.

    Maybe I’m not getting the whole picture here, but I just don’t see this situation as being severe enough to punish this kid by never letting him see his friends again. Boys are so much different than girls. They are rough, they are crude, they are sometimes disgusting, but none of that means they have deep psychological issues. Just simply tell him what he did was wrong and make sure he knows why, and then move on, I’d say.
    But a “One stike and you’re out” policy is really unfair for 7 year olds, in my opinion. You know, between the ages of 5 and 8, there is such a wide range of maturity levels. And, kids are going to do some weird things regardless. Suddenly jerking away all their friends and shaming them is not an effective way to change their behavior.
    In fact, what that will teach a child is that all friendships are tenuously conditional, and that people will leave you in a split second if you make a misstep.
    That just seems horribly unfair to me.

  5. raisingsmartgirls says:

    No, I’m not pissed Jennaviere (my goodness, far from it).

    But, it’s not one strike.

    He poked my oldest daughter (his supposed “best friend”) in the face a year ago just to “see what she would do”.

    I saw him two weeks ago yell at my daughter because she missed the shuttlecock when they were playing with the badminton, then went to hit her on the head with the racket. He ended up not hitting her hard, but he did connect with her head. When I caught him in the act, and said, “why did you hit her with your racket”, he said, “I didn’t”. But I SAW HIM DO IT WITH MY OWN EYES and he lied about it!

    He yells at all of them from time to time, but mostly likes only my oldest daughter and doesn’t like the other two around and treats them worse.

    He’s a brat. He will cry and run away when the boys pick on him and then come to me to tattle on them, but then he’ll abuse my girls and get sullen when I tell him to stop.

    It’s not going to be a week. I’m effectively minimizing their friendship because he’s going to seriously hurt my daughters one of the these days.

    I have some pretty strict rules for the kids around here: I won’t tolerate fighting, or play acting about violent things, or bullying. Or offensive words. Period. I have a zero tolerance policy and if they don’t respect it, they know they can leave. They are most welcome to stay if they respect my rules.

    My girls are gentle and loving. They are not aggressive at all. If their friends start acting in hurtful ways towards them, then we often just go play at parks far away where they just make acquaintances and I don’t have to deal with recurring problems.

    Yes, I’m a fiercely overprotective mama bear and if that makes me strange, that’s okay.

    My husband is a great grizzly papa bear when it comes to his daughters. He gets just as angry when the other kids do things to hurt his daughters.

    I don’t know…I gave the boy plenty of chances to be nice and he keeps being a brat. I don’t think I have to tolerate it.

  6. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks Switched On Mom. I am going to go with my gut and dh’s because he’s always said the boy just rubs him the wrong way – perhaps it’s because he’s always just a tad bit disrespectful of adults and always makes excuses for his bad behavior.

  7. Papa T says:

    Well, at the risk of pissing EVERYONE off (just kidding…sort of), I think that it is very interesting that there seems to be some sort of “defense” here for the little boy…in spite of the fact that he seems to be exhibiting some textbook characteristics of a budding sociopath. I’m not sure exactly who it is that is supposed to “sit him down” and tell him what is unacceptable about his behavior, but it is not likely that one sit-down is going to resolve his “issues.”

    Sure, kids do the darnedest things. I have a son who is fascinated with blowing things up. He wants to be a professional (scientific) demolition-ist “when he grows up.” Apart from the obvious concerns about his safety, I am not going to try and talk him out of it. He is researching universities that offer specialized education and training in the area. He wants to accelerate his middle and high school academics so that he can take some college courses early. Now, if he were abusing his friends and/or acquaintances, or “hypnotizing” them and suggesting that they murder their siblings/parents/others, or mutilating or torturing animals, or showed any other signs of socio- or psychopathic tendencies, it would be another story.

    The “zero tolerance” thing has caused some problems for us along the way. My son drew some pictures following 9/11 that depicted buildings exploding, etc. His teacher (he was in 1st grade) thought that this “behavior” was deplorable, and referred it to the principle’s office. My son was only trying to process some of his observations and reactions in the aftermath of the incident. He was not suggesting that the school should be blown up! I do not think that it is healthy to stringently or arbitrarily ban depictions or enactments of violence. Sure, it is difficult to help children process their thoughts and feelings. If parents find that they are ill-equipped, they might best be finding some help in doing so.

    I have very open talks with my children regarding their behavior, as well as acceptable behavior of others. I know that they don’t tell me EVERYTHING, but they have developed a good sense of what we need to talk about…and are not afraid when Daddy steps up to discuss matters with teachers, their friends’ parents, or others. Whether or not RSG’s daughter is highly sensitive (or selectively mute…or whatever), there is always a bit of a struggle when it comes to interpersonal and social interactions.

    I was quite verbally expressive as a child but was still subjected to “innocent” inappropriate “sexual advances” by some older neighborhood boys. The channels of communication were not available for me to approach my parents with this. The situation created an atmosphere where unnecessary guilt and an even greater difficulty in communicating with my parents emerged.

    I don’t really care what RSG’s “goals” are for “taking a break.” If she and her husband are communicating and they are comforting, protecting, and engendering a communicative atmosphere with their daughter, a little break cannot hurt. Sometimes we need a little space from things to get our thinking straight and develop an approach to best handle difficult situations.

    While it is true that this young boy might be testing boundaries, I would say that this possibility is a bit lower on the RSG priorities than the well-being of her (their) daughter.

    But what do I know, right?

  8. Mr. RSG says:

    Just to weigh in…

    I don’t necessarily think the kids are going to be separated forever, but I think it will be good for them to take a break. The boy gets obsessive with M, and I think separation will help “cool his jets” a little.

    Maybe it’s because I don’t have young boys, but telling someone, “I’m going to hypnotize your sister to >kill you< at midnight" is NOT a normal-type thing.

    "I'm going to hypnotize you to stay away"
    "I'm going to hypnotize your sister to take your toys"
    "I'm going to hypnotize you to do badly in school"
    I can see stuff like that, but "KILL you"??? WTF?

    I realize that at 7, we're past the days of Sesame Street, but does the kid have to jump right into Lethal Weapon?

    If his parents want him to act that way – that's fine; I don't need to have my girls subjected to it. My three girls look at the words "hate," "kill," and "stupid" the same as Carlin's infamous "Seven dirty words" – they refuse to say them. If the boy was running around doing a profanity-laced George Carlin skit, I'd be almost as upset and also call for a time-out between them. If other parents don't mind dealing with his mouth and attitude that's fine, but for me – I've had enough of his crap and bullying my kids.

  9. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks for weighing in Papa T and dear husband Mr. RSG.

    For anyone reading, we just have certain standards for my children and I can expect a 7 year old to respect my girls. I think children are capable of rising to most (reasonable) standards you set for them. I think many parents don’t set standards for good behavior high enough.

    If they can’t, the get sent home. In this case, if I allow them to resume contact, it’s with supervision until I can trust him again. Knowing how my husband feels about it, I have to side with him and limit their exposure. I can’t tell you how many times he’s told me he has a bad feeling about the kid. I have to respect that fatherly instinct. Especially now.

    The children who come to play with them clearly know my boundaries. I am the fun and caring parent that welcomes any of my children’s friends to our yard to play. At times, we have had 8 extra kids in my yard playing on our wooden swingset in back. I share our snacks and provide water for any hungry or thirsty child. I sit with some of the friends and actually TALK to them to find out what’s on their minds. I’m by far the most accepting mom on the block.

    But I have to draw the line at that kind of recurring behavior, especially since I worked so hard to protect him from the bullying of others and help him get along, only to have him turn around and bully my girls. I’ve reached my limit. I’m not waiting for him to up the ante and really do something to hurt them.

    Ask me how many times his mother had told me he’s had to “take a break” from other families? I know of three other times. This tells me that he has a history of causing trouble with other kids and pushing boundaries with the parents.

    Anyway. Thanks for the thoughts. I am convinced we are doing the right thing for the girls. Things might change, but I doubt it.

  10. Papa T says:

    Here, here, Mr. RSG…I’m glad you weighed in. Well said!

    You mention George Carlin (R.I.P.). As unconventional as it may be, “stupid,” “hate,” and “kill” are dealt with much more severely around here than the seven words you can’t say on TV. Your “…I’d be ALMOST as upset…” makes me think that you probably know where I’m coming from on this one.

    I really appreciate your joining the discussion here and wish you all the BEST as you continue to support each other and guide your precious children.

  11. Miss S says:

    My two cents:

    Your children are too precious to risk being with a boy like that. I’ve worked with children my whole adult life and I agree with Mr. RSG when he pointed out what he could’ve said instead of “killing at midnight”.

    I also would be concerned about the parent’s lack of concern. It’s ALWAYS wise to have children, especially ones you don’t trust, within ear shot.

    The animal poking is alarming, so is the sneakiness, and lack of respect.

    I have three rowdy, fun-loving, dirty, wild boys (one whom we’ve adopted from the foster care system) and they don’t act like that.

    Final thought: How much harm could be done to your daughters’ lives if he was still in it? How much harm would be done if he wasn’t?

  12. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks, Miss S

    It’s always good to have the opinion of moms who have boys. I know that there are differences between the sexes, but still…I know a lot of boys that don’t say that kind of stuff.

    The boy keeps asking when he can play with the girls again when he sees us at science camp…the only thing I’ve said is that we’d see after the week is up.

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