I went to pick up Tuck, our six year old boy, at the bus stop on Thursday. He got off the bus just like any other day. He began skipping towards me, then broke into a full out run. Once he reached me, he almost knocked me over with his hug. Yes. Typical day.
There was a flurry of doors opening and closing, jackets and hats being flung, and seat belts being clicked. I greeted him with the usual, "Tell me something funny that happened today." He went on about how at lunch, 'his friend' tried to stuff a whole bagful of fruit snacks in his mouth at once. I replied with, "Does this 'friend' you speak of have the same name as you?" He raised one eyebrow and knew I was onto him. The rest of the car ride, we reviewed the universal sign for choking and why we shouldn't shove an entire bag of fruit snacks in our mouth. No doubt. Typical day.
We reached the garage and I turned to hand Tuck his backpack that somehow had ended up in my possession. That's when I noticed it. A bump above his eye. It took me a few seconds to decipher if it was just shadows hitting his face or something else. When he looked at me straight on, there was a definite large bump above his eye. His hat was on when I first saw him, so I hadn't noticed it. I gasped and said, "Tuck! How did you get that bump above your eye?" He was out of the car at this point, so I jumped out and met him on his side. He was crying by the time I got to him. Not your typical day.
I wrapped my arms around him and inquired, "What happened? Are you OK?" Then, my stomach dropped when he said, "The boy on the bus hurt me." I bent down to him. My mind was racing. "Who hurt you?" He gave me the name. I've been an educator for thirteen years. I have dealt with these situations too many times to count. This time was different. This was MY kid. New set of rules. New set of emotions. Yep. Our typical day was definitely over.
He sat there with me in the garage and sobbed. I asked him some questions to get the main idea of what we were dealing with. On the outside I was steady, on the inside my stomach was in knots. I kept my eyes on his eyes and reminded him how he could tell us anything. I got out of him that the boy, who is in his class, pushed Tuck's head against the window of the bus, then held him down in the seat for a few minutes. My insides were burning!
After getting those details from him he started crying again. "This was all my fault."
This statement caught me off guard. "Really? How?"
Then he followed it up with words I never expected to hear, "I can't tell you. You'll be mad."
I hugged him and assured him we would not be mad. We wanted to help him and figure out what happened. This did not sway him. He would not tell me anything else.
I decided it was time to bring in the big gun. We went upstairs and Tuck literally fell into Chris' arms. I explained the few details Tuck had told me about why there was a now larger bump above his eye. We got some ice for it and sat together.
He told Chris the same thing he told me. "I started it. I said something to him. I don't want to tell you, you're gonna be mad."
We began guessing at all the horrible first grade-ish things he could have said to the boy to make him retaliate like that. We tried to think of everything.
"Did you call him dumb? Did you call him a poop pants? Did you say something about his Mama?" (that was Chris' question)
Tuck shook his head at both of us, almost insulted that we thought he would have said things like that to someone else. Finally, after much coaxing and convincing that we would not be mad, he would not be sent to his room, and we wanted to help him; he told us.
"I said, 'Let's wrestle.'."
Chris and I both were a bit confused. "You asked him to wrestle? In the seat on the bus?"
"Yes." he whispered.
Then all the details poured out of him. After Tuck made his little suggestion of wrestling, this other little boy wasted no time. From what we gathered, it was not malicious. The boy didn't say anything mean to Tuck and thought they were having fun. Tuck didn't tell him to stop. He let him 'wrestle' him on the seat. It was obvious to both Chris and I that Tuck's definition of wrestle and this boy's definition of wrestle were completely different. Tuck's is gentle tumbling around with his dad. This boy has two older brothers. His definition might be more like the WWE. Tuck looked right at me. He knew.
"Dude, why would you wrestle on the bus? That is dangerous. You need to sit in your seat. End of story."
He shook his head. "I know. I'm sorry."
We finished up the conversation by making sure he hadn't hurt the other boy. He said he never touched him. What the heck? How was he planning on wrestling then? I digress.
I told him we should just relax and he crawled into my lap. I wasted no time soaking in his need to be comforted and we sat in silence.
Finally after a bit of time, he looked up at me and said, "Maybe I should have said, 'Let's THUMB wrestle.'"
Needless to say, this was a good learning experience for all of us.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you deal with it?
Feel free to share with me in the comments section.