I’ve wanted to share this story about how my seven year-old boy used to wear a ring on his right hand. I am sharing it today – right now – because I just read My Son is Gay.
My son also may or may not be gay and to that I will say the exact same thing as Cop’s Wife: he’s my son and I will love him.
My story is similar, but different. It is about a boy who wanted to wear a ring. He saw his big sister wearing a ring and his twin sister had one. His mom had a few and even his dad had one. He wanted a ring so badly that he kept asking about it for months.
First, we tried plastic toy rings – just to see if he could wear a ring and not lose it. Then, we found a cool Lego ring. But they weren’t quite the same as a real metal ring.
Then, his mother found the perfect ring. It was silver and plain and he loved it. He wore it every day. He slept with it on. Someone remarked once that we were the only family they knew in which each person wore a ring.
One day, the boy came home and his ring was not on his finger. He claimed to have lost it, then found it again. When he presented it to me, it was clear that the story was more complicated. The ring was completely destroyed. It looked like it had been bashed with a rock and it was now broken and scratched and looking more square than round.
After some prodding, the real story, tearfully, came pouring out.
Three older kids were teasing him, saying that wearing a ring meant he was married. Who knows what else was said. No doubt, it was cruel and unfair – as kids can be.
In an effort to stop the teasing, the boy removed the ring and smashed it. He was reluctant to have me raise the issue with the school because, in his words, he had “taken care” of the problem already.
How sad I felt. My boy had something taken away from him – something that he loved. And it clearly upset him – why else would he destroy something he had loved the day before? He probably won’t wear a ring for some time – at least until he is more capable about being confident in the face of tormentors.
I did contact the school and told them the real story. Appropriate action was taken. Our school is in the second year of implementing an excellent bullying prevention program called Olweus which offers a complete methodology for schools to employ in cooperation with students, teachers and parents.
Bullying affects all kids whether they are the bullied, the bullies or the bystanders. And my kid could have just as easily been on the giving end as the receiving end.
What is critically important is that all parties – those doing the bullying, those bullied and those witnessing it – need to know that bullying is not tolerated at all.