Lessons in Advocating

Yesterday I had the opportunity to teach my son just how important it is to stand up for yourself and the ones you love.

At the time though, I wasn’t looking at it as an opportunity. It was a “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-they-did-what?” scenario.

Bug made a mistake that got him in some trouble at school. He pushed another student and they pushed back but no one saw that. He was served a punishment that was both fair and one he didn’t question or balk at. However, what happened the day after, set a new low in school administration serving their students in the best possible way.

As his punishment he received a writing assignment, explaining the incident, an apology letter, a letter home to mom and dad explaining himself, and a paragraph or two about how he would have felt if he would have been in the other person’s shoes. As my son and I were discussing the incident and things that he generally wanted to tell me about the incident, he confesses that he doesn’t know what else to do. He has tried to handle this on his own for quite some time and unfortunately he made a mistake that landed him in hot water. The other problem he seemed to be having was that he was in no way sorry for what he did or feeling apologetic. At this point he is frustrated because he is the only one in trouble. His frustration is added by the fact that the other student later approaches him later the same day to bother him in lunch… This after him getting disciplined.

I suggested then to him since I was all out of options, to talk to the teacher. He’s tried everything else but nothing seems to work. He’s tried being mature (for an 11 year old) and talking to the student. That’s when I suggested the teachers at school should help him out.
“Speak to your teacher,” I told him. “That’s what they are there for.”

Tuesday he goes to school full of hope and relief. Someone is going to listen to him. To know that for almost 2 years he has been bothered and pestered (a nuisance he states) by this student. He will seek out some help.

That’s not what happens. He instead gets taken down to the office for a further lecture on assaulting another student, on bullying and discrimination. Why? Because nobody listened. You Heard Me. No one Listened.

And Why Not? Because he led with the wrong information. He led with how he was having a hard time being sorry for what he did, especially since he did it on purpose. The teacher heard this and without another word, took him down to the office. Where he was lectured out of the high school handbook on discrimination, assault and bullying and what could happen to him at this level. He was lectured and in a sense threatened with examples of what would happen at the grown up level if he assaulted someone. (Again, it was Bug pushing a student and then that student pushing back). My Poor Bug. Had I known I would be throwing him back into the frying pan, I would have at least turned the fire off first.

To say that this was not the reaction I expected from the school was an understatement. I was mad. Someone had released the wolves on my cub and I had to fight back. My first move was to leave a scathing voicemail for the assistant principal (which was the person lecturing him after the teacher so neatly and without reason deposited my son in the office).

So I seethed ALL NIGHT LONG. I am the kind of mother who will bend over backwards to bake the cookies (or pick up some lovely bakery ones), decorate for parties, clean up and even give rides home. How dare they, the one time I call in a Hail Mary, turn my child away. I have 3 more children to come through those doors. Don’t make me become the parent you hide from when you see me coming.

My next move required taking all children to school, including cranky 14 month old who will be in need of the coveted morning nap. There Bug and I sit. And Wait. It’s funny how everyone knows when bad news is walking in the door but everyone still pretends to be surprised. Incidentally, as we were leaving the house, the phone rang, I let the machine get it cause as I said, 4 children, one minivan and a mad, mad momma. When I got home and listened to the message, it was the teacher… Hmmm funny… She saw me sitting in the office with Bug, but never stopped, nodded or otherwise acknowledged my presence, other than to look at us from the corner of her eye. Funny huh?

The meeting with the principal went well. She understood and seemed to be surprised that this happened (but was still somehow knowledgeable enough to know what my son had done and had his writing assignments with her). I can only guess that she had been briefed by the other involved teachers and principals – I wonder if my fiery voicemail had anything to do with that?)

Regardless, I know one thing: School works the same as Corporate America… Everyone had a nice talk before we showed up (whether they admit it or not)… It’s Called C.Y.A, People… Cover. Your. Ass. And that they did (or tried to anyway).

Though Bug didn’t witness the rest of my meetings and phone calls yesterday, he did learn something.
He learned that Mom will go to bat for him.
That when someone fails her child or treats him unjustly, She will strike like a mother bear defending her cubs to the death. It’s what we do. We stand up for our children until they have learned to do it for themselves. Probably the best way to know if you have taught them well is the day they stand up to you for what they believe is right.

I knew my son had been wronged. I knew that I put faith in the school to help and guide him when he needed it most, and I knew that they had fallen flat on their face in that department. I knew that if I didn’t fix it, no one else would and my son would forever feel that no one would listen to him, that he would have no one to confide in when he needed it most. I couldn’t let that happen.

If there is a moral or a main point to this story, it is that we have to be our child’s advocate in every aspect of their lives. No one else will defend or protect them like we can. No one else can make the boo-boos better but us. No matter what sort of bond you have with your child, you need to make that effort to do what is right by them. Sometimes it means doing something they need more than what you need or want.

About Nichole Smith

Nichole Smith has written 765 post in this blog.

Founder of Chaos in the Country and (original) The Guilty Parent blog, Nichole is a professional writer, blogger, social media strategist, and collector of yarn, books, and pretty paper.


  1. Jessica says:

    I can relate to where you are coming from. My 11yr old came home the other night to tell me of an issue he had with a computer at school. Each child in his class has a laptop that is used in class. This laptop is shared with 3 other people in 3 other classrooms. When DS#1 went into his folder on the laptop some one had put cusswords into his report he had been working on. Instead of going to the teacher and showing her he erased them. He was worried that he would get blamed for the words being there. I went into school with him the next morning and discussed what happend with the teacher. She and I both told DS#1 that he needed to bring stuff like that to her attention so that she could deal with it and by not doing so the person who did it got away with putting those words there. I hope that the statement was hammered home for DS#1 so that he makes the right choice next time. Growing up is not only hard on the kids it is hard on the parents.


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