Growing up I had four girls who lived on my block and were in my grade. “Fair weather friends” is an extremely generous term to give them. 90% of the time they were absolutely awful to me, but I kept chasing their friendship because that 10% of goodness meant the world to me.
Historically September was the worst. Every year when school started the girls left a summer friendship behind, and turned into little monsters. It could mean a great morning at the bus stop, laughing and being friends. Then just moments later we would be on the bus. They would put their feet up on the seat so I had nowhere to sit. The bus driver would yell at me to sit down, and I would just panic on the inside. There is no where to sit, and on top of that my friends are being mean. I’m so confused and upset. Stop yelling at me.
I specifically remember this happening on one very rainy day. Everyone was fine sitting in the car, listening to music and staying out of the storm. When the bus pulled up, they pulled their normal shit. Every seat had a wet, muddy foot on it.
I panicked, and tried to make myself feel small. I picked a seat that was least covered, and tried to take up the least amount of room possible. When I sat down, this boy made a “booom” sound as if my fat butt had crashed right through the seat. All the girls laughed with him. He then spent the rest of the ride digging his muddy shoes into my thigh, staining my jeans and sweater. I moved as close to the edge as I could to give him space. He kept the pressure against my leg constantly, and when the bus driver wasn’t looking he used all of his lower body strength to kick me off the seat. I fell into the aisle. Mud now covered the entire length of my backside, and everyone was snickering. The bus driver just yelled at me to get out of the aisle.
The school year for my son is supposed to start at the end of the month, but our town has not released their covid plan yet. I’ve asked my son every single day if he will just agree to the full time distance learning and stay home with me. Every single time he tells me he wants to see his friends.
I’ve been blaming covid for wanting to keep him home. He is immunocompromised from his Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and I don’t trust the other kids at school to be responsible with their hygiene and masks. Every day that school gets closer, the more time I spend worrying about it.
I realized this morning that covid is only part of my hesitation. Jacen is already getting help for his anxiety disorder, and we’ve had so much trouble with bullies in the past. He even had a child from school taunting him over Xbox live, telling him to kill himself. Like me, Jacen insists these people are his friends and they just made a little mistake. He continues to forgive them time and time again.
It’s abuse. I was in an abusive relationship with my best friends, and I see Jacen doing the same. We let people make us the victim because we don’t have the strength to just walk away and stand on our own. We let the cycle continue because we just want to be a normal kid- to pretend we have people who care about us, to pretend we fit in. I want more than anything to stop Jacen from feeling this way, feeling like he isn’t worth the little sliver of an edge of a bus seat. He is worthy of space. Worthy of existing. So was I – but that didn’t stop little bullies from making me feel otherwise.
For months I’ve been telling myself that keeping Jacen home would be PROTECTING, but I realized today it’s more so PROJECTING. I’m so afraid that Jacen will be tortured like I was, and I would love to just avoid the situation all together.
Ultimately the choice is Jacen’s. That is, within whatever the school district offers. I’ll be so relieved if he stays home – for so many reasons – but I can’t keep him isolated forever.
I’m asking the parents out there- do you protect or project? What reasons are you considering when choosing remote or in person schooling? And finally, is there anything from YOUR past that makes you fearful for your own children?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Write them in the comment section or send your voice memos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wash your hands. Wear a face covering. Socially distance.
Stay healthy. Stay mindful.
Kate and the Kids