We officially have a pre teen. She is amazing: funny (I mean stand up comedy funny), creative (it’s amazing what she uses to try and make slime “Mummmm the toothpaste is on fire!”), Caring (“You’re hurt? Sit down, let me get you a wet flannel”) and talented. She recently landed the lead role in her school play as the youngest in the show. Stage is where she is comfortable. Singing is something she does day and night. We call her Little Miss Leather Lungs.
Then came the Pre Teen bit. This snuck up on us until one day we wondered how we had got to this point. When did it start? The eye rolling, the door slamming, the answer for everything. When did the hatred for hair brushing turn into obsessions over new hair styles, and the roll into uniform in the mornings turn into taking an age to put on some lip gloss and accessorize?
When did shoe styles become a thing?
She started secondary school last September. It has been a rollercoaster as all year 7s friendship groups are fluid in their attempts to find their place. Add in the extra learning, homework and longer days and by the end of first term some were exhibiting flagging behaviours.
Abi has two Mums. I have been a part of her life since she was 14 months old. Together we have doted on her ensuring she has everything she needs, though not everything she wants (she saves for some things). We have brought her up with the magic of nature, wand hunting, foraging, home baking, arts and crafts (she can knit, I can’t!), many beach days, camping. We have always taught her that as long as she is happy, healthy, loved and safe then nothing else matters.
Then the teen thing took a turn. She became rude to us, she wouldn’t sleep, she was emotional. She was not happy going to school and insanely happy coming home. Then bedtime would come and she would not be happy again. School had knocked out one of our four “must haves” – happy. As weeks went by, she drip fed us information. It turns out school had knocked out another of our “must haves” – safe. Abi had been experiencing bulling at school.
One girl – one we had known previously – had gathered other children around her and whispered stories about our daughter. The stories were all the same: “don’t go near her she’s a lesbian freak.” “Her Mum’s are fat scabby lesbians.” “Don’t touch that, Abi has touched it – it’s lesbian infected.” And so it went on with the common thread being “lesbian freak.” We were able to pinpoint children who had taken on board these stories as the common thread was uttered time and time again. One afternoon Abi came out of school dripping with cherry coke. Another afternoon she had Seagull excrement smeared over her. She was often tripped up, often had her hair pulled and often threatened that if she told she would die in an ambulance.
Her distress was increasing as we had email conversations and meetings with school. A couple of incidents had been witnessed but school seemed more concerned with Abi’s behaviour: She is often late to class (she doesn’t want to cross paths with bullies en route so hangs back). She has been seen to be antagonistic in class (the teacher turned after another “lesbian freak” moment so caught the tail end, not the whole story. “These incidents are often reported by us not by her.” She is terrified to talk for fear of repercussion. “90% has not been witnessed.” Yet we are dealing with a different child – a very upset child who has had two ruined school shirts and two ruined coats due to the actions of others.
We took Abi out of lessons – putting her in “base.” A time out area for a week until school dealth with the issues. I felt like one of those parents who is constantly phoning, moaning, emailing. I didn’t want the school to view us negatively because of this but we could not stand by and allow this to continue. She was moved to the other half of the year group. She was given a pass to skip the canteen queue and given bolt holes to go to.
She is doing better in her new classes. She is certainly happier and comes home with tales of lessons and new friends. The issues continue inbetween lessons and at break and lunch but she appears to be handling herself better. She is very sensitive and is not the type of child to retaliate. I just hope this positive spell lasts. We have looked at other schools but if things can be worked out we would rather stay. Her school specialises in an subject dear to her, she has made a couple of good friends and she has bonded with many teachers. We don’t want the actions of one (and her group) to spoil what could be an excellent opportunity for Abi.
No child should EVER suffer in silence or be made to feel they cannot speak due to fear.
We have had a meeting with our local MP who is now requesting updates from the school. Homophobia is not acceptable. We are working very hard to bring our daughter back to the point where she once again feels happy, healthy loved and safe. This blog will be continued as things progress.