Jenni Button and Napoleon

I approached today with the strategy of a master general preparing for war. At least that’s what I always think on the Jenni Button suit days. Like each expensive layer is armour. The ritual of make-up and mascara as intricate as the way my forefathers painted their skins blue before battle. And the final touch. The killer heels. All of which was somewhat marred by a hacking cough and a runny nose. Still you can’t have everything and the way the weather was at Waterloo, I’m fairly sure old Bonaparte had a runny nose too. Of course he lost, but still.

This morning we met the headmistress of the pre-prep, the headmaster of the prep and the class teacher. And I might have well as worn jeans. Bugger. I don’t get enough reasons to wear the Jenni Button suit, but the damn thing has to be dry cleaned, so I’d like the occasion to have merited it. I am, however, very grateful it didn’t.

Walking in to the headmistress’s office I felt a strange time displacement brought about in large part thanks to the cough syrup and Med Lemon cocktail I had for breakfast. Anyhow, this Back to the Future phenomenon transported me almost twenty years into the past bringing back in technicolour brilliance the times I was called in for a “chat”. I shook it off with some difficulty.

The school has taken my increasingly impassioned pleas to heart and instituted an anti-bullying behaviour curriculum. The psychologist has spoken to Small boy aged 6, his counterpart and the class. They’ve acted out bullying behaviour and how to deal with it. Now, if only Small boy aged 6 can take those lessons out of the classroom.

After a lot of posturing – you can’t get around that – we’re all grown-ups who think we know best. We came to some conclusions.
First, perhaps we should ask the boys what is going on?
Second, Small boy aged 6 is coming out his shell, is this causing some tension?
Third, what is the root cause of this trauma?
Fourth, how are we making it worse and how are we helping?
Fifth, what must we do?

I’ll start at number five at work backwards. The psychologist will advise if we should keep the boys apart, or should try and see how they work outside of the school context together – like a play date. As an aside, I loathe them, but they are a necessary evil.

Instead of asking how Small boy’s day was and the highs and lows of it, I need to ask relevant targeted questions about his day at school and end with, is there anything else you’d like to tell me?

Now the first three questions are pretty much the same and I discovered the outcome on the drive home today.

Small boy aged 6 launched into his day without any prompting.
Small boy aged 6: “Mummy. Mummy. Normally, the headmaster spoke to both of us today.”
Mummy with some interest and trepidation: “Really, what did he say?”
Small boy aged 6: “He asked us if we wanted to be friends. And Mummy? Mummy? We both said yes!”

Now this is the bizarre part of the whole situation. I think they do want to be friends, they just seem to be going about it in a truly strange and destructive manner.

Small boy aged 6: “And then! And then, Mummy, the headmaster asked him who his friends were and he said, X and Y. Then he asked me and I said X and Y too!”

AHA! It was a light bulb moment. Thank God for headmasters who understand the intricate and convoluted workings of the male mind. Basic jealousy and posturing because they both have the same two friends. So, I guess it was a sort of an animalistic vying for alpha position or some other testosterone induced insanity. Do they even have testosterone at this age?

I think we all agreed that we’re on the same side at last and that we’re all trying to make sure the boys are okay. We chatted about diversity and perhaps incorporating some celebration of difference into the anti-bullying class. We hope that might help with the whole violin playing issue. I must admit, I do hope for the day when he trades it on for the drums. 6 year old violin playing is no joke on the adult eardrums. At least with the drums I can turn them into the next Jonas Brothers. A mother can dream, can’t she?

Still I ended the day decidedly more light-hearted about the education and psychological wellbeing of Small boy aged 6 then when I started. The only thing missing was a reward from the rather spectacular jar of sweets the headmaster keeps on his table. Perhaps the headmistress should get one too?

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