One sure way to induce panic in a parent is for the school to ring at lunchtime and say “There has been an incident.”
Your brain goes into instant overdrive, with swirling panic and imagination, worrying about it. Just WHAT sort of incident?
“No1 is in my office and I just want to talk through an incident. It seems there was some name calling, then No1 kicked away another kid’s ball and he has retaliated by pushing No1 up against the wall.”
“Ok. Is he alright?”
“Well, he has hit his head, but says he’s ok.”
Oh my gosh, I thought, why didn’t you open with that? He’s hit his head…
“I don’t think it was malicious, and I just want to talk to you about it all.”
“Hang on. Hang on,” I said thinking the worst and completely justifying the initial overwhelming thought process. I took a big breath and tried to be rational, because let’s face it, freaking out on the phone is never that helpful.
“Head injuries are pretty serious. Is there a lump? Do I need to get him checked at a doctor?”
“I’m not sure,” replied the principal.
“How about I drop by and have a look? Then we can make a decision about that, and you can run me through the whole incident.”
Because, you know, you called me while I was having lunch in a very noisy food court, and I’m a little bit freaked out that my kid was smashed into a wall and hit his head.
I rushed to the car, and drove to school to find No1 resting with an ice pack on his head. Phew, at least someone at school knows basic first aid. There was no lump, and he said he had no dizziness or blurry vision, and he was awake the whole time. Right, now we have sorted out that, let’s figure out how these kids got to this place.
In the end it was fairly innocuous, and probably just a bit of ebb and flow between two kids that ended poorly. The other child has to see the school counsellor to talk it through, but it wasn’t serious enough for further mitigation. As well as that, it did allow No1 and I some time with the principle to talk through other issues in the school yard. There has been an ongoing issue with a different kid, and it has mostly been resolved during school hours because the teachers are aware and keep a good eye on everyone. But it has flowed over into after school care, and blew up earlier this week with that kid saying a few mean things to No1, No1 retaliating by kicking away the soccer ball. All the kids then started yelling at No1, and he walked away. That kid followed him, and when I was inside signing out, apparently leapt on No1 and tried to strangle him. No1 kicked him and ran off. Obviously, there is a kicking theme here, and the result is that both kids have to be formally reported through the after school care system, with all parents notified.
I’ve since done a lot of reading on bullying, and I can tell you that is a massive collection of information on bullying on the internet. You can read about what to do when your kid is being bullied, or how to tell when your kid is a bully. But there is no information about how to deal with social power struggles, and how to stop them descending into violence.
No1 “He always wants to be team captain, but so do I, so we have a team each. But then, when the teachers aren’t watching he takes over as referee and changes the rules so his team wins. And he says that he wants ‘Good Kid 1’ on his team, and when I pick ‘Good Kid 2’, he says I’m not allowed, even though it’s more fair if we have one good kid each. And then he gives me red cards for nothing.”
Can you follow that rant? I wonder if in their quest for competitive glory small issues can quickly escalate into the other one seeing red and lashing out. And then the other feels they have to defend themselves. And the behaviours don’t really fit under the typical definitions of bullying as it goes both ways. The principal also talked to the parents of the other kids involved, and all of the kids are happy, even keen, to come to school. Part of this is due to the before school soccer matches – so these games are both the cause and the solution to this power struggle. The school has seen a huge increase in on-time attendance amongst the kids who play the game, and the principal said “the game will stay. We need it.” And so, it seems that No1 and the other boy need to figure out how to both be captain, and play on opposing sides without conflict. A useful life skill for both of them.
They may soon have to work out how to be on the same team, as the other boy has just enrolled in our cricket club and most likely will end up playing on the same U12s team as No1. Perhaps that is just what they both need to move from being each other’s nemesis to being friends? Or it could be a total disaster with both of them reinforcing their opinion about the other one?
On a different note, Bismarck was at Bunnings the other day to buy a new U-bolt and nut to fix the trampoline. No2 looked at him and said “You know, Dad, there are four types of nuts.”
“Yeah. There’s the nuts you eat. There’s the nuts that are your balls. There’s ‘You’re Nuts!’ And there are the nuts we are going to buy now.”
Time to put some of No1’s aggression into pounding some peanuts into a sauce to make the ultimate, easy, yum flame-grilled satay meal.
3pm – We cooked these over our fire-pit in the back yard. It’s made from a recycled gas bottle, and is just the right size for a small city yard. You could grill them on a BBQ or pan fry them, but the fire gives them a smoky taste that adds a little authentic street food taste to the whole dish.
- 12 chicken thighs
- 1 piece ginger
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 2 Tbs ground turmeric
- 2 Tbs ground cumin
- 1 sprig coriander
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 red onion
- 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
- 1 splash soy sauce
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
Put the brown sugar, soy sauce and oil in a bowl with the ground spices. Take all the other ingredients and blend them (or finely chop) into small pieces. Throw them into the bowl and mix everything together.
Chop the chicken into inch sized chunks. Most recipes are quite pedantic about what shape to chop these, but as long as they are all about the same size and are big enough to thread onto skewers, it doesn’t really matter.
Mix the chicken through the marinade and leave until 6pm. This is a good time to put the bamboo skewers into water to soak (which helps stop them catching on fire when you cook the chicken later).
5.30pm – Because most of the kids don’t eat super spicy food, I have made a mild peanut sauce and put XO sauce as a side dish for those who want to add that smoky chili fragrance to the meal.
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 500g salted roasted peanuts
- 2 limes
- 1 litre of water
In a mortar and pestle bash the peanuts until some are crushed and some are small chunks. This is a great task for children who have lots of energy (and aggression). Most recipes for a traditional peanut sauce use tamarind paste, but that requires an extra shop to visit to acquire, so if you are time-poor (like me), raisins make a good substitute. Any dried fruit is fine really. Tamarind is quite sour and sweet, so the sauce will need a bit of extra lime to get that tang instead.
Put the bashed peanuts into a pot, along with the juice of two limes, finely chopped raisins, one litre of water, and the brown sugar. Bring to the boil, then turn it down to simmer until the water is reduced into a sauce. You will need to stir it occasionally to stop it sticking, but it’s easy. If you like it spicy, you can add dried chili to the peanut sauce at this stage.
5.45pm – This is a good time to put the rice on, then it’s time to make the chicken skewers. Thread four pieces of chicken onto each skewer, and cook over a medium heat. While these are cooking, I also threw together a citrus, avocado and rocket salad. This is really easy. Throw some rocket into a salad bowl. Take your citrus and cut the peel off, then slice into pieces. Throw that in the salad bowl. Cut your avocados in half, remove the pip, and slice into pieces. Put them in the bowl and mix together. This goes nicely with a balsamic dressing, and if you can be bothered, some feta cheese would be nice too.
- 1⁄2 bag rocket
- 6 citrus (a mix of types makes a pretty salad, I used 3 oranges, 2 blood oranges, 1 lemon)
- 3 avocados
- Balsamic vinegar
- Feta cheese (optional)
- Fresh Chili XO Sauce
6pm – Serve everything and eat. Yum.