It’s Friday night and I get home later than usual when my husband picks me up from the train with Jonah and Lexi in the car.
“Jonah is having a problem at recess,” my husband Michael announces to me. “He says some Star Wars obsessed boys are chasing him and hitting him with sticks.”
“Seriously?” I say.
“They are mommy, I swear!” Jonah tells me earnestly as he sits in his car seat, already dressed for bed in his Scooby Doo pajamas.
Almost every day this week, Jonah had been coming home with Band Aids informing me that he had gone to the nurse because a boy in his class hurt him at recess. To the skeptical mom in me, the injuries seemed too minor to even warrant a Band Aid. But Band Aids seem to make kids feel better so I hadn’t said anything. No big deal, I thought.
My son is legendary for his extreme imagination. He’s the type of child who tells me that his tooth became loose, then fell out at school, and an hour later, a big tooth sprouted in its place. He also swears that he saw a real dinosaur walking through our front yard and that his teacher spontaneously took them to an amusement park as a special field trip earlier that day and bought every child cotton candy.
It is understood by all who know Jonah that he has a robust sense of fantasy. So when he started telling me that his friends were chasing him with sticks and throwing acorns at him, I wasn’t immediately calling the principal on bullying charges.
But tonight in the car, when Jonah told me that he was being picked on every day by three boys, I suddenly switched into Mama Bear mode.
“I’m calling the boys’ mothers as soon as we get home,” I declared in the car.
Jonah seemed relieved. And I felt terrible that I hadn’t taken him more seriously.
My first call was to Owen’s mom, a woman who I’ve never even met. She expressed an appropriate amount of concern about the situation and then informed me that she volunteers at recess and has seen all of the boys playing together. In great detail she described the scene of six year olds for me complete with the two, cranky elderly lunch ladies who constantly scold the kids for, well, being kids.
Suddenly, it seems that all of the moms are now part time volunteers in the first grade. This was never the case in preschool or kindergarten, but first grade in the public school seems to demand a battalion of mommy volunteers who do everything from stack library books to monitor recess. While I think it’s fantastic that so many moms want to and can help out at school, for a full time working mom, this makes me feel completely removed from what’s literally happening daily on the playground.
“Mommy, will you pleeaasseee volunteer at recess on Monday?” Jonah asks me before I put him to sleep Friday night.
My impulsive reaction is absolutely! I need to see who these kids are – who is chasing my boy with a stick. I want to be there. I’m already coming up with the story that I will tell my boss:
There’s a Recess Crisis in the first grade. My sweet son is being targeted by bullies. I must take action before he becomes labeled the wussy kid who gets tortured throughout grade school, becoming the weird kid in high school who can’t get a date, and winds up in therapy before he’s 20, all because of Star Wars crazed, acorn throwing, six-year-olds who traumatized him while his mother sped off to work each day.
So clearly, I need to be there at Monday at noon…except that I can’t. So I’m coming up with my Plan B. I spent Friday night locating those “recess volunteer moms” to see if they can look out for Jonah to make sure that he is not being teased or targeted.
And if that doesn’t work…I don’t know what I’ll do, quit my day job and become a recess mom?