If you missed it, you can read part 1 here.
I couldn't wait to pick Lindsey up after her first day of her bike-riding unit in gym. She had just learned how to ride her bike and was excited to show off her skills.
When I picked her up she looked mopey and kind of sad. I tried to ask how it had gone but she wouldn't say. It wasn't until we got into the car that she finally felt safe enough to burst into tears.
It was awful, she said. Everybody teased her for her tiny bike, and of course they all passed her up because her wheels were so small. Even her friends joined in the fun, not remembering that perhaps somebody's feelings were at stake. She had been so excited for the class and instead it turned into a taunt fest.
The other part that made it hard is that she had gotten a nickname at the beginning of the year that had come to a climax that day. The short story of that nickname is that a teacher had misspelled her name "Lindsoy" on one of the first days of school, and the kids started calling her Soy Sauce. When she first heard it even Lindsey giggled and thought it was kind of funny, but then it spread like wildfire. Kids were calling her Soy Sauce in class, in the hallways, at lunch and kids who didn't even know her started calling her Soy Sauce.
The same day of the biking incident the Soy Sauce nickname had reached a tipping point for Lindsey, and she had had it.
I felt so badly for her and wanted to hug her all night. It hung over the entire evening and was all she talked about. She didn't smile and she wasn't looking forward to going back to school the next day.
I finally got her permission to talk to her teacher about what had happened, and her teacher was amazing. She spoke to the class the very next morning about name calling without pointing out Lindsey's situation. One boy who was apparently an instigator of the nickname looked at Lindsey knowingly, but she just ignored him and turned away. We bought her an appropriately-sized bike which she took to immediately and couldn't wait (again) for the next gym class.
Her second biking outing was today and she did great. No one teased her for having a small bike, and the gym teacher reminded everybody that people go at their own pace and that it's not a race.
There's more that can be said about this, and I'll probably write a few follow up posts on the subject. It definitely got me thinking about the definition of bullying, how we accept it as a society (or choose not to) and where to draw the line as a parent in getting involved in our children's social upbringing.