And then, sometime between third and fifth grade, it all unravels and your child is left to use all of the "tools" you've provided them--in their own words. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. And when it doesn't, I'm not sure who feels worse, you or your child.
This weekend, my newly 11-year-old on learned some difficult lessons. Lessons that we all learn eventually. But he had to get his in quick succession in three days. First, on his birthday, I brought him a special lunch only to find him totally "shut down" and fairly non-responsive. A group of boys were continuing to taunt him. It has, apparently, escalated. He has not told me; he doesn't want me to worry. Or, probably more to the point, get involved. As he stared down at the lunch, I watched the four boys giggle, whisper and point, and say something low enough that only my son could hear. So much for a happy birthday lunch.
After school we packed him up for his first two-day campout with his new boy scout troop. From a parental perspective, it looked like Treasure Island, complete with tents, a fishing dock, rock climbing walls, camp fires and hikes. As the tents sprouted up, I left excited. Surely this will be a most memorable experience! And when we picked him up, we could clearly see that it was, and for all of the wrong reasons. Excluded in some instances; intentionally sidelined by the 13-year-old tasked with being the "leader" in others, it wasn't what he had hoped for. As a result, he may drop out.
It is hard to watch your child suffer, whether it is from illness, scholastic issues or peer trouble. And unfortunately, there is no non-stinging antiseptic and colorful band aid that can clean it up, patch it up and instantly make it better. If only.