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Mom Furious After Daughter Is Sent To Mediation For Refusing To Play With Her Bully At Recess

AnnaKovalchuk/Pixabay

We have come a long way in our understanding of consent, safety, and even kindness.

But as our standards improve, there are still issues that impact our children, girls especially.

One mother described a backward-thinking incident at her daughter’s school on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor MobileRecord8599 was appalled to realize what her daughter’s school had done and their reasoning, in fact.

But after careful consideration, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was doing the wrong thing.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my daughter she is allowed to exclude other kids at recess?”

The OP was aware of a bully at her daughter’s school. 

“I (34 [Female]) have a daughter (8 [Female]) who is in second grade. By the way, her school closes in 2 weeks from Wednesday.”

“So one day last week it was raining, so my daughter’s school had indoor recess, which is basically when the teachers bring a bunch of toys and board games into the classroom during recess.”

“There is another boy in her class (I’ll call him Isaac) who my daughter complains about a lot. He has made fun of her disabilities (Achondroplasia) and other things, but it seems like he’s kinda like that to everyone and I thought the teachers had it under control.”

There was a recent incident between the OP’s daughter and the bully. 

“Well, I guess last time they had recess indoors, he took the whole bin of legos and wouldn’t let any other kids use them.”

“But that day he had again taken the whole bin of legos, but my daughter went over and asked if she could use some and he let her. The teacher noticed and praised him for sharing.”

“Then the next day they had recess outside again, but this time it was special, I guess, because the third grade and the second grade were having recess together which my daughter says barely ever happens.”

“My daughter was very excited because her cousin is in 3rd grade and so she only wanted to play with her.”

“They were playing hide and seek by themselves when Isaac came over and asked if he could play too. My daughter said she just wanted to play with her cousin right now but maybe another time.”

“He got very upset and started hitting and pulling my daughter’s hair. The teacher came over and asked what happened and they explained.”

“The teacher thinks that because Isaac was so nice to her by sharing legos that she should say yes to playing with him.”

The OP did not agree with how this was handled, however.

“I always teach my daughter that she doesn’t owe anyone anything, no matter how nice they are, and I believe it’s important to teach these ideals young. But my daughter still said no and so they got sent to mediation which is basically where 2 11YO’s sit down with them and talk through the conflict.”

“But I got a call asking if I ‘consented to the mediation’ and I asked what it was for. They said my daughter got in a fight but that doesn’t sound like my daughter so I asked for more details and they gave the phone to the teacher who told me what happened.”

“I was mad. I said that it should not be the job of my 8YO to reward another 8YO for their good behavior and she doesn’t have to play with anyone she doesn’t want to.”

“It would be a different story if it was a big group of kids playing and they left one kid out, but it was just my daughter and one other kid, so I don’t think it was a big deal that she said no.”

“I refused the mediation because I know they were gonna act like their actions were equally wrong and make them both apologize(Has happened in the past).”

“But maybe I could be an AH for not making her include another kid and not letting her do the mediation.”

The OP also added more information about her daughter’s health.

“I am not taking it up further with the school, it is almost over and I know it will just cause more problems.”

“For those wondering why I haven’t made it a big deal before, I knew the teachers already saw him as a ‘problem child’ and every time he had been mean to her, he had been scolded or punished.”

“Also, I realized I didn’t include this but my daughter has a lot of other conditions that come with having achon (including bowed legs, hydrocephalus, scoliosis, low bone density, heart defects, left lung problems, kidney defects, and epilepsy), so after he pulled her hair, she was supposed to go to the nurse’s office to make sure she was ok, specifically concerning her epilepsy and hydrocephalus, but the teacher said they had to go to the office first.”

“She had them sit in the office for 30 minutes while they called both their parents and only let her go to the nurse after I said no [about the program]. Luckily, she was fine.”

“Just to be clear, I did speak about this with the principal when it first happened but I didn’t request for anyone to be punished. He did say he would look into why she was not immediately taken to the nurse.”

“Also, the teacher doesn’t know all her medical problems, so she probably didn’t realize the urgency of getting her to the nurse.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some applauded the OP for raising her daughter this way. 

“Hang on, so your eight-year-old, by the teacher’s logic, is supposed to let a boy who was hitting her and pulling her hair play with her because he was nice yesterday? She has a history of him not being nice to her but she is supposed to forget it?”

“You are NTA and well done Mom for helping your daughter see that”Slow_Owl

“Why doesn’t the teacher know how serious her medical conditions are!? Make sure the next one does please.”

“NTA, I’m glad you defended your daughter’s choice to say no. The violent kid should get a big punishment. The teacher handled it terribly.”mrsjavey

“The school should not be encouraging little girls to be people-pleasers who meekly put up with abuse, nor teach boys that it’s okay to become abusive if they don’t get their own way.:

“They should be teaching that not everyone will be your friend and the way you behave has consequences.”Far_Administration41

Others immediately took issue with the “nice guy” vibes the school gave off. 

“All I could think was… someone should ask this teacher if that same boy was in college and bought a girl dinner… she has to be ‘nice’ and give him her body if he asks?”

“WTF is wrong with her? We do this to girls all the time.”

“They have to be accommodating, they have to make sure everyone’s feelings are fine, even at the cost of her own, talk less, unless it is yes and smile more.”

“We need to instill the power of NO NO AND F**K NO into our kids. 1 nice moment doesn’t make up for 100 crappy ones… and this teacher ALREADY FAILED BY ALLOWING THE BULLY TO BULLY EVERY OTHER KID AND STEAL THE LEGOS”Ursula2071

“This is how ‘nice guys’ are made. They are taught from a young age that as long as you’re ‘nice’ at one point, you are given what you want, and that’s not how it works.”

“I worked in a before- and after-school child care program briefly after finishing my undergrad, and I loved that they were never about forcing kids to share or be friends. If a kid didn’t want to share, you’d tell them it’s kind to share, and you ask how they’d feel if someone else wasn’t sharing with them, but at the end of the day, it was the kid’s choice what they did.”

“If that kid got the toy first, then the other kid had to wait their turn. Same with being friends, no kids were forced to be friends.”

“Same as OP said, if a big group of kids was excluding one kid, yeah, that’s a problem, but as individuals, the kids were taught that it’s their choice.”Jex0003

“Also, him ‘being nice’ consisted of LETTING her use some of the class’ legos.”

“He took all of the legos that were for the entire class, and because he ‘let’ her play with some of it, she isn’t allowed to say no to him?”Barbed_D*ldo

Some agreed and also criticized the school’s mediation program.

“Girls are not responsible for teaching boys good behavior.”

“Girls are not responsible for being nice to boys who hurt them.”

“NTA. Do not go to mediation. It’s not your daughter’s job to minimize her happiness so that an 8-year-old bully can have a good time.” 

“And shame on the staff for not holding that boy accountable for his behavior.”aSeaPersonByNight

“Uhmm, the mediation is two 11-year-olds deciding what should happen? Are you f**king kidding me?!?!?! No, just no!”

“What are the adults at that school thinking? Oh, they aren’t thinking. They just don’t want to deal with it. A**hats.”

“NTA”Leading_Goose50

“I agree, having 11-year-olds be conflict mediators is a very iffy concept.”

“Look at the asinine decision made in OP’s example by a grown-a** adult who felt that because this boy shared the legos he was monopolizing, that gives him a chit he can cash in the next day to overrule the wishes of a girl who doesn’t want to play with him.”

“Classes in emotional literacy, like classes in everything else, should be guided by professionals. This teacher doesn’t sound like she is too well up on her own emotional literacy, I wouldn’t want her training anyone else to do it, let alone 11-year-olds.”Signature_Sea

“NTA I got so furious reading this. Where was ‘mediation’ when he was bullying your daughter. Just because he was nice once does not mean she has to accept him nor that he has the right to physically assault her when she said no.”

“OMG I am a teacher and trust me he would of been dealing with me for his bullying way back. Yes I would have told him he was nice to share as we try to remark on the positives when they do happen but the day he refused to share trust me I would ask who wanted to play with the Lego and divided it up between all of the students as it is the class Lego.

“If it was his personal Lego then he gets to decide.”

“He needs to be suspended for physical assault and made to publicly apologise to your daughter for attacking her (and those words need to be used).”

“Also were I am any child with a health issue (even something as simple as well controlled epilepsy and asthma) have a health care plan that the teacher MUST know about.”

“It is also shared with anyone who would come into contact with your daughter ie front office staff, senior staff. Talk to your school about developing one for her I can send you a template if you would like.” ~ W1ldth1ng

“NTA. He was mean to her a lot but now that he was nice to her ONE time she’s supposed to let him play with her when she wanted to spend time with her cousin? WTF.” ~ Weekly-Salary

“HARD NTA. Just because someone does something for you (isaac doing something for your daughter in this case) does NOT mean they are entitled something in return.”

“This is a first lesson in general consent and it’s perfectly fine and within your right to teach your daughter that nobody is entitled to her time and kindness.” ~ SpringFragrance

Though the school may have the best intentions with their peer-led remediation program and their work to make sure all students are included all the time, there has to be a balance.

As pointed out by this subReddit, the school needs to understand the message they are sending to young girls when they overly encourage them to reward boys for being “nice” no matter the circumstances.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.