I remember once reading a saying about how becoming a mother means that your heart starts walking outside of your body. The last few days have been lessons in just how vulnerable a heart can be once it's found it's feet.
Ellis is being bullied. Or picked on. Or targeted. Or something equally horrible and gut wrenching.
For the last few weeks, my small, spirited boy has been a wreck. He has always been an emotionally charged person, but lately it's been awful. He has been so very defiant, tantrums in the street, an hour long walk to nursery complete with kicking, spitting and hitting. He has been exploding with rage and tears at everything, been horrible to his beloved sister and clingy and in my face from morning until night--nothing new, per se, but his worst days amplified by 10.
We thought it was the age or maybe the baby or possibly Georgia's increased mobility or the move. In many ways the why didn't matter. I would end many days crying on the kitchen floor after spending the day feeling like all I was doing was shouting. I was getting to the point of breaking. I did not want him near me and the mere thought of an afternoon alone with him filled me with dread.
This past week, we began to put together a picture...Kev witnessed an incident at martial arts where a bigger boy pushed Ellis down repeatedly, run ins with children saying they didn't want to be E's friend, a split lip, a marked face, a bitten nose. On Friday, the final piece fell into place and the name of the problem emerged: Bullying.
On the way home that day, I had to pull over the car because I couldn't see for crying.
He wasn't just acting out because of the move or Georgia or the baby (though they could all play role). He was (and is) treating us the way he is being treated. When I realised, I could see it instantly. He is talking to us EXACTLY as we have witnessed others talking to him. He was clinging so violently to me to see the limits of my love and tolerance. He was trying to control the few aspects of his life that remained within his grasp.
Bullying is a perennial worry, but we've always known E would be an easy target. He is quick to cry and yell when he is provoked, even his sister likes to wind him up. He is emotionally less mature than many children his age, but has an amazing intelligence and remarkable physical abilities--a mismatch that leads to a lot of frustration. He is also a slight child, with not much on his tiny frame.
Other traits make him stand out in a school environment. He is simply unable to do something if he doesn't want to. Group activities are incredibly difficult for him. So we knew that in a culture that values conformity, he could be an easy target.
But never once did we think it could at age 3, almost 4. And it's not one or two or even a small clique of kids, it appears to be an uncoordinated handful of children who have taken to pushing him around.
And so now we have this situation. He only has a week left before school holidays and then starting a new school. Our short term aim is for him to end his time at the nursery on a positive note. He'll go out with a bang on Friday, as he'll also get to celebrate his birthday.
Beyond that, we don't know. The desire to protect him is overwhelming, but he wants to go to school. He is excited about the new nursery and making friends here. Ultimately, we have to do what we feel is right, which has always been follow his lead...
...no matter how much I want to keep that little heart of mine by my side.