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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A little of this

I wish to clarify my selfishness, there is nothing wrong with being green. I take good care of my parcel of land. It’s the fad that I find troublesome. If you wish to lead a greener life, I applaud you. Please remember that there isn’t an easy out.

I was asked about why I needed a donkey and did she need one? I have talked in the past about getting a llama for guard duty, donkeys are protective in the same way, except they are better with children and cuter. And yes, everyone needs a donkey.

The last thing on my mind this morning is my oldest son. He came home yesterday gritching. I asked him to do one of his chores and he ran off to his room crying, yelling that he had a bad day and all he wanted to do was lay around watching tv. I followed him and sat on his bed, asking what had happened. Between deep breaths and sobs, he told me that no one wanted to play with him at school, and that he was chased off with the taunting of “you stink.” He was told he smelled like a zoo. And because he lived on a farm he couldn't play with them. Then the kids followed him around the yard, taunting him about being a farm boy.

What do I say to that?

I squeezed his leg. I remember how the country kids were treated in my school. The thought of that happening brought tears, I knew it was worse than he admitted to. Calmly I told him that he had it better than the town children. He would have the teachings of both worlds when he grew up, and have more options, and easier transitions than those children. They were jealous that you have the animals that you do. Their parents don’t even let most of them get dirty. I told him he doesn’t smell, but we will take the precaution to shower well in the mornings and run clothes through the dryer. He sniffled and nodded.

Here I had been worried about the teasing that would come from living in a mobile home. I forgot that the country kids came with a stigma.

I wish there was more I could do to help him. I am hopeful he will come out of this with only a few tears and no physical scars.

Any ideas about how to soften the teasing?

Also, if anyone is interested in purchasing a small homestead in Kansas, let me know.

18 comments:

Killi said...

My little one is shunned at school ~ nearly all the childer in her school have grown up together & their parents went to the same school before them; she's an Incomer, born in England, but is good at trad, music, dance & is catching up on the language & she's very clever ~ things to really turn the locals against her: an outsider better than they are at their own culture! Also I live on the mountain, don't drive (can't drive now if I'm honest), house is old & in need of renovation & I don't work away from home. Annon has no father.................. well she does, but won't acknowledge him at all.
My little girl has no friends in this strange land that I dragged her to ~ no friends apart from our animals.

Children are cruel. I have no idea how to stop the teasing or how to make it not matter. I just try to give her love & support & if I can show her the inconsistencies & funny side of the taunts (from the childer's own ignorance of words used), then I do so. Is the school on your son's side? Father is proud of my daughter & what her cleverness means to the school ~ run by the Catholic Militia ~ & that gives her a certain amount of protection with (?from) the staff. I think I help a bit as I possess skills valued by the headmistress that exceed her own... I get the impression that I make her feel a bit uncomfortable for all that we are paupers within the Celtic Tiger wealth.

Like you I point out the advantages of our way of life & point her towards "big" school & then freedom.
I wish I had the answers. I don't. We live settled, but I dress in such an outlandish way & insist on being ME which doesn't help, except to show that if you believe in yourself you can get away with being true to yourself. I had to learn self-confidence aged 38 & still am not there yet, but confidence does help ~ that & being happy in yourself & what you are. Not sure how to teach a child confidence ~ I think mine learnt the hard way. All you can do is be an example (if necessary at times, play act confidence to get you through) & be aware of the child.

Not sure any of this rambling will help ~ if you find the answer, please share it.

farm mom said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your son's situation. I grew up being teased as well for being a country girl and was also told that I smelled. It's an extremely hard thing to deal with as a child, and it says alot about your son and your relationship with him that he opened up with you and told you in the first place. I never told anyone, in fact, this is the first time I've admitted to it! Your son will grow up strong in himself and not be afraid to work, and work hard for what he wants because of the life you are giving him. So many children grow up in homes where nothing is expected of them and they in turn feel entitled to everything and superior to others. When they become adults, it all comes crashing down around them because they don't know how to work for what they want or even who they are or what they want. I've run into the gang leader of the click that used to terrorize me on a few occasions. She's divorced, huge, drinks and smokes too much and is just as mean and angry as ever. But, she also seems deeply unhappy, tired, and lacking any true sense of herself or direction in life. I don't know how to stop the teasing, or even how you can make it any better for him...other than to be who you are, a loving mom, and give him the attention he needs. I hope he keeps talking with you about it, as I'm sure it's helping him. All I can do is offer some assurance that you're sons going to grow to be a better man than most. But, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know am I? :)

Jami said...

Gosh, kids sure can be ugly little buggers, can't they? I remember the days of being a farm girl in grade school and how, when my parents split up, my cousin disgustedly called me a "city girl" because my mom, my sister and I moved to town. Funny, now that I have lived IN a city, I realize that living in that town (population 500) hardly left me qualified to be a city girl. :)

Anyway, we three gals moved so often while I was growing up, I became quite accustomed to being the odd-gal out. My younger sister was my best friend, and my first friend no matter where we moved. There is so much comfort derived from knowing your family loves you, ya know?

All it takes to get through school is a good friend or two, and the rest are gravy! Upon reading this blog, I find it impossible to believe your son has inherited none of the charm possessed by his mother. He'll make a close friend or two and know he can conquer the world if he wants to.

Oh, and by the way, when a boy made fun of me for that "farm girl smell," my mother told me to tell him "That's the smell of MONEY," because farming was how my family earned a living. Personally, I like to think of it as the smell of clean-living and the scent of guilt-free, mixed in with the unmistakeable odor of able-to-sleep-easy-at-night.

Small comfort for a kid, but he'll understand it one day. Just let him know that at least what these children view as his big flaw is easily remedied, unlike being beaten with down with the bad manners stick like those kids apparently were.

Wendy said...

Your son's experience is a really good argument for homeschooling. If you are able, you might offer it to him, and he might just decline. My son wore braces and had headgear when he was in the ninth grade. It was really hard for him, and he suffered a lot of teasing. We offered homeschooling to him. He ended up sticking it out at school and graduated with honors.

Jeff Roberts said...

Hmm...maybe offer your place as the site of a field trip or barn dance for his schoolmates? Could open their eyes, or then again might backfire.

Just a thought.

Stephanie said...

Middle school right? They are horrible then! Anything that is different is fodder for teasing.

There is no way to stop the teasing that I know. I think you are doing what you can; pointing out the advantages, loving and supporting him.

Of course, I'm with Wendy, that kind of crap is a great reason for homeschooling. Not that I have any personal bias toward that ;)

The Fool said...

Unfortunately, it is not your son that needs the lessons in tolerance...it is the other children. Many children in Alaska live in homes without electricity or running water. Many kids come to school without the habit of bathing every day, or they smell of woodstoves, or lack a fresh, packaged, or commodity smell.

We have quite a diversity of cultures and living styles in Alaska...and we are perhaps a bit more rustic...which lends to a greater tolerance. It is unfortunate that your child must face the stigma that comes with mingling with the ignorant. It is really the other children in need of lessons.

Stay in touch with him, Phelan...it is the family bond and the support that comes from that bond that will help him through.

maggie said...

I lie awake at night dreading and fearing the day that situation comes up with my children. It is hard being different at any age. I don't know if pulling him out of school now would give him the strength he will need for the next battle. I would be open and talk him through it. Under no circumstance would i try and dismiss it as, "no big deal", (not that you would). After the year he may opt for non traditional schooling. My heart is with you both what a horribly unfair situation.

Bob said...

I grew up military traveling the world so was always the new kid with no friends. Add Asperger's Syndrome and I was the target. My youngest also was picked on till I started taking Aikido lessons with him. He never used it just became confident and that helped allot

Norman MacIntyre said...

I remember being teased beginning in the fourth grade. I didn't like being teased because it hurt worse than a scraped knee. That was then. Now, I am grateful that I was teased. It was good conditioning. Rearing a child in the tradition of self sufficiency includes self assurance.

Anonymous said...

I think you should just keep reminding your child that its important to keep being his own self, no matter what, and tell him he doesn't live his life for anyone else, and lots of artistic people will always be different, and creative.

jessyann said...

this post makes me very sad, i was bullied in school (like some here, was different and had moved to a new area) but my parents always told me it was just the other kids' immaturity, and it has made me probably stronger and more sensitive to people, especially the underdog. my mom used to tell me "the strongest steel goes through the hottest fire". just take comfort in the fact that, although your son is having a hard time and being hurt now, at least he is not one of the ones teasing and hurting others. i know which i would prefer my children to be.

Donna said...

Now I realize how fortunate I am that there are more farm kids in our little school than there are town kids. Kids indeed can be cruel. I think most of us mothers would rather be hurt ourselves than to see our child hurt.

This is so sad, to me.

Justin said...

I am so sorry to hear about how your son was ridiculed at school. The experience was inexcusable.

There is no doubt that your son will remember this experience. I want you to think into the future about what you want him to take from it. I think that, because of your positive parenting skills, he will remember to be proud of himself, but for now he will need a few reminders of that.

I don't know how old your son is, but surmising from past posts I am guessing 7-11 years old. From my experience, this is a time in development where children create their own identity and truly interact with others. On one hand, we want to protect them. On the other hand, we are teaching them to stand up for themselves.

Maybe your son could benefit from a program like 4-H that would connect him with other country kids. He will soon be at the age, if he is not already, where he can interact with like-minded children in leadership-developing activities. Additionally, it is a volunteer-based program and, unlike programs such as Boy Scouts, does not require money to participate.

Your son may also enjoy a little independence and responsibility to develop his self-confidence. Perhaps he can be responsible for an animal or a portion of the garden.

Celeste said...

Luckily my granddaughter goes to a school where there is a lot of farms kids. Our biggest problem was we have no children in our neck of the woods. I enrolled her in tae kwon do and she has made friends with a varity of people. What you did was right. The field trip suggestion may work if they are in they 710 year old group. Especially if there is babies!

abbagirl74 said...

Hhmm, this post looks like a chapter in my current life. My kid is in the sixth grade and goes through the same thing. He gets called so many names and actually gets shoved around in the hallway sometimes. The advice I have given him is to speak up. I have talked to school officials, and it seems to have lessened. But, he has his days. I feel helpless sometimes. I don't want him to grow up becoming a bully himself.

april said...

I'm surprised by this, even shocked. Are there not a lot of farm kids in his school? Farm kids were always revered in my school. You tell him my kids would think he's wicked cool, because 1. he gets to live in Kansas 2. he has lots of animals 3. if he has cowboy boots, then he's the BOMB!
We have avoided so much of the teasing by homeschooling, but it's not for everyone. If you do go the route of a coop it would probably fit nicely into your homesteading routine.

ps. My neighbor wants a miniature donkey and I'm sure she'll get one, she has a llama too. I'll just have to live vicriously through her animals.

Robbyn said...

My daughter went through some tough times simply because she doesnt run in cliques (neither do I) and because she did WELL in her classes. There is always some reason for other kids to pick on somebody...does any kid get through school unscathed? I was reading the suggestions, and they all sound good. 4H for me was really a great outlet, and so were developing some of my other interests...it at least diffused the impact of some of the nay-sayers.

At any rate, it's really great that you and your son can talk about it openly, and that you can be his sounding-board. If he has a couple of really good friends he's compatible with, it can help insulate him somewhat from the bad eggs.

I both homeschooled AND had my daughter in public school at different points. Each school year and stage of development are different, even for each individual child. You're so creative and capable, youre the very BEST at knowing as things roll along what is the best fit for your guy :)

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