10.27.2008

"Some daddies hit"

"You can't do that, Sage!" Thalia insisted, as Sage pulled the DVDs from the cases (again) and strew them across the floor. "If you do, daddy will be mad...and he will hit you."

"What?" I asked. "What did you say?"

Then more tentatively: "Daddy will be mad. He will hit you?"

"Now why do you think Daddy would hit you? Daddy's never hit you. He loves you. We don't hit people we love."

"But sometimes they do. Sometimes daddies hit if they're mad."

I sat her down and asked her where she learned this.

"James," she said, referring to a boy in her class. "James told me that he had to run because his daddy will hit him if he does something bad. So he runs. He runs away."

I fumbled for words. I said something about daddies loving their kids and kids loving their dads and what James said may or may not be true because people generally don't hit each other.

"But if their daddies are bad, they do. James's daddy is a bad daddy."

Eek.

To be fair, Thalia is in that imaginative stage where she she attributes her own thoughts and needs and ideas to other kids. Like telling me that Sage "wants me to eat a cookie" or that Sage "says I have to watch Caillou," which, frankly, I know isn't true because Caillou sucks beyond belief and my children would never ever like anything that sucks. Also it freaks me out because it makes me think of David Berkowitz revealing that a dog named Sam told him to kill a bunch of teens making out in their cars. In other words, Thalia is either a very imaginative child or she's on her way to being a serial killer.

Of course if the story were true, it would explain why James (not his real name of course) has hit Thalia in the face twice this week.

Eek again.

I don't know what's true and what's not, but the whole thing has given me a very uneasy feeling. I don't even know how to proceed from here except to sit tight, hope that's the end of it and wish that kids were all just perfect and never hit or made up stories and certainly never insisted on watching Caillou.


63 Comments:

Anonymous WaltzInExile said...

In order from least important to most important:
1) We had to pretend we didn't get the channel Caillou is on anymore, because the whinging in my house increased exponentially upon viewing that whiny whiny child.
B) Poor James. He obviously needs some help. Not that I have any idea how you (or anyone else) could do that... Maybe Thalia could give him a hug the next time he's feeling all hitty. No, then she's just closer to him. Scratch that. At least Thalia understands that that is NOT supposed to happen.

10/27/08, 9:21 AM  
Blogger Black Hockey Jesus said...

Little kid named Finn keeps pulling up Lucy's dresses.

There's some nutjobs at daycare. It's the new bus station.

10/27/08, 9:22 AM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

As an (on maternity leave) teacher, my first instinct would be to have a private chat with the teacher and give her the heads up. She can keep an eye on the little boy and if she's already having suspicions, she can probably find a way to ask certain questions or pass it along to the appropriate person at the school to handle it.

Teachers are mandated reporters, so you're not passing the buck, you're giving them more information to possibly support a theory they may already have or to give them a heads up to keep an eye on a child who may need an intervention. We also spend a TON of awake hours with the kids and can assess for odd/different/worrisome behavior. If anyone else has said something to the teacher (that the child told their child his dad hits) having another child corroborate the story might be a vital point. This will NOT get your or Thalia's name on any paperwork or get DSS involved in YOUR life (which is what some parents worry about when they wanted to bring up another parent to me).

I wish I didn't know so much about this, but after 5 years in urban public schools, I've unfortunately had to file a few reports. And I hate that once my suspicion of abuse was absolutely dead on, but I'm glad that the child was able to get moved to a healthier situation.

Sure, Thalia could be making it up. Kids at that age make all sorts of stuff up (as you noted). But on the chance that she's not, it's worth mentioning.

10/27/08, 9:23 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

It's amazing that a generation ago, the conversation would have been very different. And not just because Calliou wasn't darkening anyone's television set back then.

That's a tough one. I would suggest speaking to the teacher, but if I were you, I'd hate a suggestion like that.

10/27/08, 9:43 AM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

I agree with Mrs. N. Tell her teacher. It may help them figure out something they were already somewhat aware of, or it may start something that needs to happen.

I think one of the hardest things you can do as a parent is to call out another parent. However, someone has to stand up for the kids. It still amazes me that if you hit another adult, that you can get charged with assault, but if you hit a child, it is discipline.

10/27/08, 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Fibibuffy said...

I worked for our school district for quite a while. If you think it may be true, you should talk to the teacher. They are great at handling situations like that. I have had to report an incident or two also. It is tough. What if other people know, but are afraid to say anything. If you don't report it, who will?

10/27/08, 9:52 AM  
Blogger natasha said...

Wow. I too think that talking to the teacher is the way to go. If nothing else she may be able to help you determine just HOW much overtime work (if any) Thalia's imagination is putting in.

I hope I never have this kind of conversation with Grasshopper. Good luck!

10/27/08, 10:06 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I used to work with abused children and it's pretty normal for them to act out their abuse on their peers.

However, he could just be a hitty kid. I'd say tell the teacher. She see them all day and if there really is a problem, I'm willing to be she's already suspicious.

10/27/08, 10:09 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

As you and others have said, there may be nothing to it. James may just hit. Thalia may be making it up.

I do think, however (as a former teacher), you should talk to the teacher and/or a guidance counsellor or principal. (I don't know how your school is set up.)

10/27/08, 10:18 AM  
Blogger Russ, Anna and Pepper said...

Try living in the south where ALL mommies and daddies hit!!!!! Try explaining that to your child. I think we truly dont get channel with Caillou, ha!!!

10/27/08, 10:37 AM  
Blogger Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Scary.

10/27/08, 10:59 AM  
Blogger RuthWells said...

I agree with the others who suggest that you report it to the teacher, with an additional thought -- Thalia is surely looking to you to help her make sense of this situation, and if James' dad's discipline does cross the line, Thalia needs the security of knowing that there is a Right Thing to do, and that you will do it.

10/27/08, 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

I have to agree with the other posters - you HAVE to tell the teacher. Through my experience of being the oldest of four and having a mother who works in the school system, it's safe for me to state (because my mother has, several times) that most kids don't make stuff like THAT up from the top of their heads. You know your child. If that doesn't seem like something she'd make up (and since you've already said that the child in question has hit your daughter), it's more than likely that he's being hit at home. Telling the teacher will allow her to keep a closer eye on the poor kid, and also allow her to intervene quicker than you might be able to. And if we can't stand up for children, who can, y'know? Don't worry about rocking the boat - instead think of what MIGHT happen to the poor boy if you DON'T intervene.

10/27/08, 11:11 AM  
Blogger Jennifer H said...

Tell.

It may be nothing or it may be something. (I speak as someone who wishes adults had followed through on their suspicions, and even evidence that was undeniable.)

Please tell.

10/27/08, 12:12 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I agree with everyone here - you have to tell the teacher. The teacher has an obligation to follow through on it. You'll feel better, but you won't be directly responsible for whatever happens.

I had a couple of occasions when I was teaching that I reported things to my higher up (guidance counselor) and nothing was done, and I still feel bad that I didn't push harder to make sure these kids were safe. I did what I was supposed to do, but sometimes I wonder if the counselors did what they were supposed to do.

Eek is right.

10/27/08, 12:19 PM  
OpenID madgetastic said...

HATE CAILLOU. Around here we call him Cry-ooo, because he's such a whiner. Would it be okay to hit him? (Kidding, of course. Well, sort of.)

Oh, also, tell the teacher. What harm could it do?

10/27/08, 12:31 PM  
Blogger KayleighJeanne said...

Yeah, say something to the teacher.

Of course, when I was in elementary school I told a girl a huge elaborate story of how my parents beat me. I don't think you'd need two hands to count the number of very mild spankings I got as a child. (I still remember it because it's so out of character for me, pathological liar is not one of my personality traits.)

So yeah, mention it to a teacher, hopefully they will have their own observations too.

10/27/08, 12:59 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Yep. Tell the teacher. They won't file a report, but it will keep them on the lookout for the little boy. We went through something similar when we saw one of Samantha's classmates being beaten (by her grandmother!)as we walked to our car from school.
It sounds like you said all the right things to Thalia. It's one of those "I can't believe we had to talk about this today" moments, isn't it?

10/27/08, 1:18 PM  
Blogger Susanica said...

Hi Mom 101. As I read your story I immediately thought back to my 4 years as a teacher. And yes, I agree with just about everyone here that it's important to share your concerns with the teacher.

Isn't it funny that in all the advice columns in the world, young people are always encouraged to talk to an adult. But as adults, we sometimes struggle with what to do once someone confides in us. Please don't keep this to yourself. You're reporting your observations and/or your conversation with your daughter. You are not interpreting. There is a difference. Best of luck. Sadly there are lot of little James's out there. -Monica

10/27/08, 1:45 PM  
Blogger Astrogirl426 said...

I'm afraid I'm going to have to join the bandwagon on this one (but then, you knew this was coming, didn't you?). I am also a mandated reporter, and everything Mrs. N is saying is correct. If I were the teacher, I would be grateful that you came to me with information, even if it turned out to not be valid.

It isn't easy to do this sort of thing; but you'll feel a lot worse if it turns out to have been something after all. Good luck!

10/27/08, 1:50 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

I'm another one for telling the teacher. You lead by example and aren't afraid to tell people to pick up their trash. I know this is a harsher situation, but I think the right thing to do is report it to the teacher who can observe the boy.

Good luck! And I'm with you on the "Eek!"

10/27/08, 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't sit tight and hope that this passes. As an Early Childhood Educator, have a little chat about it with their teacher. Then they can also be on the look out for behavior or comments that may be a little out of the ordinary. Believe me, they will appreciate it!

10/27/08, 3:14 PM  
Blogger Random Chick said...

Whoa...sounds like you handled that one great. I'm not sure what I would do in that situation.

Caillou does pretty much suck beyond belief.

10/27/08, 4:35 PM  
Blogger ScientistMother said...

Just wanted to restate what everyone else has said, tell the teacher. Its better to be over protective and say something then not

10/27/08, 4:47 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

In your position, I would have a quiet chat with the teacher just to tell her what Thalia told you and tell her that while you understand and hope that it might not be true, that you wanted her to know what James had reported to another child in case she sees any other signs.

You may just save that kid some pain, and the chance is worth it, I would think. It's also worth proceeding with caution, though, and letting the teacher use her professional judgment and discretion.

10/27/08, 4:57 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

All I can say is this broke my heart a little.

10/27/08, 6:33 PM  
Blogger Miss Grace said...

Adding one more voice. I think it's worth mentioning to the teacher. If it's not true it's not true, but if it is, it'll be good to have more eyes on the situation.
Although from the story telling perspective my son recently told me a very involved story where I'm always biting him and it's very naughty. I do not bite him, obviously.

10/27/08, 6:35 PM  
Blogger Mandy @ Adventures of a Millennium Mom said...

You are absolutely right about Caillou! I change the channel immediately when his whiney, little bald head comes on the tv!

10/27/08, 6:47 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

I agree with others...tell the teacher.

10/27/08, 6:50 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I am so appreciating the unanimous voice of "tell her" more than you know.

I'm adding this to the growing list of things they don't teach you about parenting in Lamaze class.

10/27/08, 6:58 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

it's not that we wish all kids were perfect--we wish their parents were.

10/27/08, 8:29 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

It sounds as if you've already made your decision...Good for you!!

10/27/08, 8:34 PM  
Blogger Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Oh my. How extremely disturbing! I would definitely talk to the teacher.

And stay away from Caillou at all costs, cause he is the devil.

10/27/08, 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

What a sad conversation to have to have with your child. I can barely watch the news anymore because I can't stand hearing about children being hurt, by parents or anyone else. I hope for James' sake that his Daddy isn't a habitual hitter.

And Caillou is just wrong. His voice makes my skin crawl.

10/27/08, 9:23 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Wooo. That gave my stomach a knot too. So many things in parenting, we are just so freaking UNPREPARED for, you know?

10/27/08, 9:49 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

Agree. Tell.

Caillou. Sucks.

10/27/08, 10:00 PM  
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10/27/08, 10:41 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Caillou has gone downhill ever since they stopped intercutting the cartoon segments with the ambiguously gay puppets. I was a fan of the ambiguously gay teddy bear and cat daddies and their dinosaur kid. That was cute.

I wish you luck in figuring out what is going on here. It's possible the boy's dad spanks him as a form of discipline, but doesn't beat him up. It's possible the boy made it up. It's possible Thalia made it up.

If nothing else, I would talk to Thalia's teacher about the fact that this boy has hit your daughter in the face and you wonder whether he might have something going on in his life that is making him feel aggressive.

10/28/08, 12:14 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Just heartbreaking that a little girl has to learn these things, but it is a big complicated world.

10/28/08, 12:17 PM  
Anonymous karma_musings said...

undoubtedly 40 of your 39 commenters have already said this, but, can you bring the story to her day care people? (privately of course!!) taking the tack that "Thalia said this, thought I should check it out, just wanted to give you a heads-up?"

10/28/08, 12:42 PM  
Anonymous jamie said...

Stuff like this really lays me low too. Kids absorb lots of dubious facts.

In 1st grade a kid in my kid's class said her Dad had to go to jail because he hit her Mom. Heartbreaking and terrifying, but guess what? It wasn't true.

Here's one: my 8-y-o said to me that she was going to have to get better at folding laundry because she "was a girl."

Ouch.

10/28/08, 2:33 PM  
Blogger R said...

My step-nephew has been having problems with an abusive step-father, and my BIL has mentioned it to his teacher so that she can keep an eye out. My mom has also told nephew several times that his teacher is his "safe person" and if his step-father hurts him or his mom to tell her, and she will let BIL know. Our situation sucks even more because nephew currently lives with his mom & step-father 8 hours and 3 states away... still fighting for custody, but with only a 5 year-olds word to go on, authorities won't do much (even though he was saying the same stuff at 4 years old)... its a crappy situation all around, but mostly for nephew.

Please tell the teacher, he/she will know that kids that age have an active imagination and will be on the lookout for anything that doesn't seem right... what could it hurt?

10/28/08, 6:38 PM  
Blogger Sunny said...

It is a crazy world we live in.
I am reminded of what Ellen Degenerate said on her talk show regarding kids and their imaginary world. "There is a fine line between pretending, and cuckoo."

10/28/08, 7:24 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Eek. I love hearing the imaginative stories ("Obi-wan Kenobi likes potstickers!" Really?), but it's so tough to figure out when they're reporting something you really wish wasn't true.

I'm glad so many school/child ed experts are piping up with good advice.

10/29/08, 12:50 AM  
Blogger Two Beautiful Girls Mommy said...

I agree talk to the teacher.
Caillou is awful and whiney. But the really bad thing is that he reminds me of my nephew!!

10/29/08, 2:43 AM  
OpenID samanthahines said...

A teachable moment for your daughter, an opportunity to help a child who may desperately need it, and an enormous challenge for you. Take a deep breath and be strong.

10/29/08, 6:46 AM  
Blogger Tree said...

hey amiga - while i'm not a parent (yet!), this is one of my favorite posts from you ever. it's one of those rare writings that mixes a very serious topic with whimsy, without making light or fun of the serious topic. kudos on something so brilliant.

10/29/08, 8:08 AM  
Blogger Hilary said...

Caillou does truly suck...plus, what is he, like 4, and he doesn't have any hair yet?

10/29/08, 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate Caillou. Enough said.

10/29/08, 11:40 AM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Hmmm. Bossy agrees. Hang tight and observe. Kids have a way of picking up odd bits of actual information and assembling it based on other influences we're not even aware of -- like overheard conversations, snippets of Oprah previews, and the reaction on our faces.

10/29/08, 1:19 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

I really hope James' dad doesn't hit him and that you never have to watch Calliou. The end.

10/29/08, 2:35 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Wow, my kid attends daycare so I don't ever get stuck watching silly cartoons but I'm really surprised to hear the hate over Caillou. I've watched it a couple of times on my days off from work and didn't think it was THAT bad.

10/29/08, 3:46 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

We banned Caillou because of the whining. Same for "Max and Ruby".

The hitting thing... It's tough to handle sometimes.

10/29/08, 4:01 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Yes, Calliou really is that bad.

Liz--Most have already said to talk to the teacher, and as a pediatrician I agree 100%. Something to think about if the idea of that is very uncomfortable for you. How would you feel if a few months from now you heard on the news that something horrible happened to this child at the hands of his Dad? That feeling you would have to live with would be so much worse. Tell.

10/29/08, 5:14 PM  
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In case you didn't know!! CONGRATS!!
You are so funny & you write so well...
I LOVE Mom-101!!!
xoxo, Jessica
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10/30/08, 5:29 AM  
OpenID heartfull said...

My reaction to what I read here is so different now than it would have been 7 or 9 years ago. Oldest (9) is a girl, Middle (6) is a girl. Youngest (3) is a boy and whoa baby, is he ever a freaking hand full. No, I don't spank him. But I have "popped" him on the backside a couple times - so lightly I can barely feel it and yet it gets his attention and stops his behavior far faster than the begging I was doing 10 seconds before.

Would he tell his friends in preschool that he has to run away from me? I doubt it but maybe - because he is three.

So. Maybe James is being abused. Maybe not. Report it to the teacher, of course. I would. But don't pass judgement on his parents until you know something concrete.

Oh - the other thing about my boy - he is very physical. When he gets upset he hits. He throws. Same thing with play - he wants to be playing in a physical way much of the time, not just the quiet pretend play that my girls loved so much at this age. He has been this way LONG before I ever swatted his bottom. His emotions are just so much more *there* than his sisters' ever were.

Parenting a boy after two girls has really been an eye-opener for me.

10/30/08, 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Asha {Parent Hacks} said...

Oh boy. This is when we start saying to ourselves: "Perhaps parenting older kids ISN'T easier than when they are babies or toddlers."

My son came home telling us that his friend got grounded because he tried to "kill himself at school." This friend asked my son to watch, and said he was doing it "because he has a bad life." (He tied some string around his neck and was never in any danger, but still.)

We can't figure out if this was a joke or not. I intend to talk to the school -- I'm worried about this boy.

10/30/08, 1:52 PM  
Blogger b said...

As a parent of a kid who told her classmate that her mommy "will beat her to death", I second the tell the teacher thing. We'd just had a very young close relative die and our little girl was obsessed with death and, oddly, violence, for a good 6 months after. (I say that it was odd because the relative died in a non-violent manner.)

I had discussed this with the teacher in advance. When the classmate's mother told the teacher the teacher was able to put her mind at ease. Here's hoping the same happens with you.

10/30/08, 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anita Doberman said...

Tough situation - but like heartful's comment i have to say that in certain cases it's tough to figure out what's really happening.
I have five biological girls and one little boy we adopted and he is very physical, often times biting or hitting.
There is no hitting in our home but some symbolic spanking (you sort of pretending to spank on the butt) and yet he is a very physical boy. I am not sure what he would say, he knows that bad behavior is usually punished with time outs but I think when you report something you have to be really careful about pointing the finger (though talking to a teacher isn't pointing the finger) you never know what really goes on

10/30/08, 9:47 PM  
Anonymous lexxity said...

I think a word with the teacher is the right way to go.

My son, 3, has an incredible imagination. He can tell you all sorts of involveded and detailed stories. Including one where his nursery nurse had supposedly hurt him. We had a good talk with the nursery and the staff and found that nothing had ever happened. He just has such an amazing imagination and can't yet tell the difference between reality and fiction.

Do talk to the teacher, definitely.

As for the programme, we don't get it here, thankfully as far as I can tell1

10/31/08, 6:06 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

We had a similar situation and I called the assistant principal at school and asked her what to do. She suggested calling my pediatrician - who also happened to be the other family's - and that's what I did. He promised to keep an eye out. I also think Mrs n's suggestion of talking to the teacher is good. Silence - not sure that's the best route. I covered the story of Lisa Steinberg's beating death at the and of her fother so I may be paranoid.

11/3/08, 7:44 AM  
Blogger MommyWho? said...

So how did this turn out w/James?
I'm on the bandwagon of tell.

Don't even get me started on how much I hate Caillou and what he did to my previously nice daughter.

As for "what's up" with being 4 and having no hair...

My husband has alopecia universalis and ALL his hair fell out when he was 2. Talk about a tough childhood. I can't even imagine. Anyway, just wanted you all to know bald-headed kids aren't always a result of whining. ha ha.

BTW: Found this blog off the Mom Agenda website links page. LOVE it!
First time I've laughed all day. (but not from this sad one.)

Keep up the great writing.

12/4/08, 3:33 PM  
Anonymous J.R. said...

I realize this is an old post, but I just have to reply to one of the comments.

Jaelithe said: "Caillou has gone downhill..."

My question to you: How can a show go downhill when it was already at the bottom of the hill when it started? I don't think I'm exaggerating by stating that Caillou is the most annoying television show in history.

9/10/09, 11:25 AM  

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