Walking The Boy home from school today he said something that made my heart twist inside a little bit.
"Sometimes I think," he said, "I don't have a very nice life."
Though of course he does, mostly. He is a happy, gregarious, funny, eloquent six year old phased by very little the world has chosen to throw at him during his short life apart from the one thing that prompted him to say he didn't have a very nice life in the first place.
And it's not really one thing, but two children (one girl and one boy) that make him feel that way. Two classmates who between them, and independently of each other, have since September inflicted The Boy with:
A bite mark on the upper arm
A bite mark on the inner elbow
A split lip
A bruised forehead
Punches (several) in the stomach
Stuck a sharpened pencil in the palm of his hand
Hit him with a bat across the shins leaving a livid three inch long bruise
And, today, he emerged from school with a cut and grazed cheek which "stings a bit" after he was pushed over in the playground onto a stone. My first thought was "Thank lord it wasn't any higher" and my second was "No you fuckers, this time I've had enough."
I understand, of course, that accidents happen, that kids will be kids and sometimes its half a dozen of one and six of the other, I'm a mother of four for gawd's sake, but I know that my Boy is not capable of an intentioned act of violence on anything and I know he doesn't go looking for fights. He has no need, he has three sisters at home.
I also know that he has a soft spot for The Girl that has outlasted anything she has so far thrown at him and that really he still considers The Other Boy a friend. And I know that he is bewildered that they do these things to him and hurt that they choose to, because he tells me so.
The one time he hit back, literally, was in response to The Girl biting his inner elbow and biting it badly enough to break the skin and leave a dental impression that would make a forensic scientist weep with joy. The Boy, in some pain, punched her leaving "a red mark on her chest" said his class teacher in a phone call apprising me of the "situation." But I saw the bite mark and I'd have bloody punched her too.
He's not the only one in the class to suffer at the hands of The Girl or The Other Boy and the school do what they do every time anyone transgresses and gets caught. The perpetrators are put on red (as part of the Traffic Light System *rolls eyes*), miss the next playtime and, if they've been really naughty, get sent to the headteacher.
I've talked to the Other Parents and discovered not-very-much and The Girl only ever bites people when she's at school. So that's alright then. And I've talked to the teachers. Expressed my concerns. Complained, politely of course, and come to the impression that, basically, they KNOW but really what can they do, they're busy.
And that's all well and good, I'm sure everyone thinks they're doing a splendid job in a tip-top manner and abiding by all rules, regulations and good practices you can throw at them but clearly somethings not working, or not working fast enough to stop The Boy, MY Boy coming home with cuts and bruises brimful of unhappiness and bafflement.
He's six years old and he doesn't deserve to be the punchbag or lose an eye while some classmates learn to behave themselves and not to bite, not to punch, not to hit people with bats. He has to spend another four and a half years in the same class group and what happens if they never learn?
I love my son very much, I would wade across seas for him, fight dragons and, yes, remove spiders from the bath and I will not let him be used as an educational aid.
*Puts on boxing gloves*
*Doesn't know who to fight*