Week three of school. Martin and I were walking to the bus stop when he asked, “Why do some kids say, ‘You can’t sit here!’?”
“Do some kids say that to you?”
“Yes. Then the bus driver says, ‘You can sit in the first two seats’.”
“Which kids say that to you?”
“Big kids in the bus.”
“Does any of the kids from this bus stop say that to you?”
“Do the big kids say that to other kids from this bus stop, or just to you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think that is something kind to say, or unkind?”
“Unkind. Then I have to find a seat with one kid or no kids.”
“If someone says, ‘You can’t sit here!’, maybe you can say, ‘I’d rather find a better seat anyway’?”
The conversation freaked me out. As soon as Martin boarded the bus, I texted his behaviorist, who sees him both at home and in school. With her approval, I also emailed the school principal.
The principal responded quickly: “I will look further into this situation today. Is it possible that Martin is going to the back of the bus to sit? The long-standing tradition at our school is that the fifth graders sit in the back of the bus. The fifth graders will sometimes get overly sensitive about their ‘earned right’ to have the back of the bus. I’m hoping that this is just a misunderstanding and an easy fix. I will be very disappointed if there is more to it than that. I will be in touch.”
Later the same day, the principal sent a follow-up message, saying she had spoken with the bus driver, who would ensure that a seat behind him was always open for Martin, just in case.
I explained to Martin that fifth-graders sit in the back. He asked, “Then why do the twins get to sit in the back?” He meant our neighbors, who are in first grade. I had no answer.
The next morning, I consulted a fifth-grader I know, who also boards at our bus stop. She confirmed that fifth-graders sit in the back.
First bullying incident—might have been nothing, might have been something.
Subsequent bullying incidents—I’m worried. I’m always worried.