I told Luke these things the first time he told me she pinched him a few months ago. He accepted my explanation and let it go. I let it go. These are kindergarteners and the girl in question is not that big. How hard could she be pinching him?
The other night after reading books, I could tell he had something on his mind. Funny how, even at the age of 5, lying in a warm, comfortable bed in a dark, quiet room offers the perfect stage to lubricate the worries of the day freeing them from the mind and pouring them from the mouth. This is especially true with Jack. But that night, Luke talked. After he was spent, he said, “Night makes you think about a lot of stuff. It’s hard to quiet your mind.” Poor little guy.
He began by saying (using a made up name here for privacy – Hi Jill!), “Jill doesn’t like me at all. She told me she doesn’t like me. She hates me. She sticks her tongue out at me and pinches me. She pinched me as hard as she could.”
“Did you tell the teacher she pinched you?”
“I didn’t want to because I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but she saw me crying.”
So a little kindergarten girl can pinch hard after all. And I hated to ask, but I was talking to Luke so I had to:
“Do you know why she’s pinching you?”
“She said I pulled her hair. I didn’t. She said I pulled her hair and then she pinched me. So I flicked her hair a little and then she pinched me harder so I flicked her hair again. But she pinches me all the time, even when I don’t flick her hair.”
We had a long discussion about how it’s wrong to hurt other people, and how if someone is hurting him, he needs to tell a teacher or his mom and dad and not worry if the other person will get in trouble. If they are hurting someone, they should get in trouble. And if they are hurting him, they might be hurting one of his friends. I explained to him that it is never o.k. to hurt back. I told him that he should stay away from this girl and not play with her, and tell the teacher right away if she bothers him.
“The teacher said that all of our classmates are our friends.”
“You don’t have to be friends with someone that is mean and that is hurting you.”
Our school has a very strict policy on bullying. It also assigns a character word each month and teaches the students about this word. I like our school, I like its approaches to bullying and its methods for teaching about respect and friendship. But I think they may be missing the boat on the fact that 5 year olds can be bullies. And that girls can be bullies. And they may be missing an opportunity to teach our kids that you don’t have to and will not like everyone you meet and there is nothing wrong with not liking everyone you meet. The important thing is how you treat those people that you don’t like. We all know how to treat a friend. But how do you treat those people that you don't like and that aren’t friends? That is what defines character.
And this kid has character.