Up til now, I had hoped to avoid a certain parenting issue entirely, I naively thought perhaps I was out of woods on this one. But something has been happening with a boy in JH's class at school. I'm discovering that this particular parenting issue is far worse than grocery shopping with a child that is jacked up on sugar or catching barf with my bare hands.
It involves telling my son to be judgemental. Or to put it in a way in which I can live with it better: telling my son to use his better judgement.
This boy: He's been talking about him a lot. He's a new boy this year, one of only two - JH is with all of his same classmates and his teacher from last year, so they all know each other pretty well. I think JH wanted to help this boy out because he was new, and for that I'm really proud. He's been talking my ear off about this boy, P* does this!, P* does that!, but one day last week, he told me that P* was nine (in second grade). My mommy radar went up a notch, then the next day he told me that P* had a cell phone and sometimes was called R* instead of P*. My mommy radar started to inch up next to the red zone, then the next day, he told me that P*/R* stuck up for him. "How nice!" sez I, and the needle begins to drop back into the safe, pretty blue zone. "Yeah, P*/R* told me that if someone bothered me, he could just grab him by the tenders, or pinch their neck." Staying calm, but firm, because that mommy radar needle is now spiking the far end of the red zone, I reminded JH that that was NOT okay to do to anyone, and if someone at school was bothering him, he should use words first, then tell a grown up if it doesn't stop. Now I'm seriously worried that maybe P*/R* isn't the best person for JH to hang out with, but I don't want to tell him he can't be friends - after all, kids are a lot better at being friends without judgement than adults are. Maybe JH can be a positive influence on this kid, I tell myself, trying with all my might to get that needle back down to a safer, calmer color.
I finally met P*/R*, and his "uncle", who was so scary, it was all I could do not to run away. We all met at the park, and he told me that they had come looking for our house (JH had given our address out - and YES we had the conversation about THAT not being safe), and in our conversation I discovered that no one in the house works, yet they have a WI, a Playstation, not to mention the kid has a cellphone, but the "Uncle's" teeth were rotten. And he couldn't read.
It would be one thing if this boy were a good student, or had some redeeming quality that I could overlook all this. But JH tells me the boy hates school, is disruptive, and has alienated all of JH's other friends.
So no. Never again will I ignore my "Mommy Radar". It's there to keep my child safe. I've told JH, firmly but gently, that he is to play with other friends at recess. He should be nice to this boy, but make different choices about who he plays with at school.
The needle hasn't come back down yet, but I'm hoping, hoping it will soon.