Two minutes into her first day at Big School and my daughter gets a big graze on her knee. Off we go to the medical room for some tender care from a helpful teaching assistant. Of course, only water is used to wash the grit out – it’s been a longstanding policy of schools not to use antiseptic creams. As a former Health and Safety Rep at school, I have never really understood why there’s such a broad brush approach. The usual reason is that some kids react badly to creams. My view is that if they help stop bugs getting into a wound then use them. I’d happily sign a form to that effect.
Many years ago, while still teaching, I was advised/ordered not to use Vaseline ON PAIN OF DEATH … and woe betide any teacher who slapped on a plaster.
Things must have changed a bit as Isla got a plaster – phew – which kept her new white socks clean… and she hobbled off to join her new class. Accidents will happen. And the plaster came off painlessly in the bath later that evening.
A few days later, she was back in the centre again after a passing boy decided to give her a push. She said she was just walking along in the playground when it happened out of the blue. Not sure why bigger kids want to target little ones – it seemed like a spur of the moment thing, not sustained bullying. That said, if a kid pushes lots of different children then there’s probably some issues – and need for tissues. At the end of school, Isla showed off a fresh plaster covering her new graze on a graze. Ouch.
Chatting to other parents, the consensus was that ‘these things happen.’ Children get pushed, mud gets thrown, etc. It is part of playground life and kids have to get used to it. I suppose whether this becomes an issue or not is down to how much time school staff have to be detectives.
I remember it sometimes took ages finding out who had done what during a break time, with valuable lesson time used up in the process. Based on my knowledge of the children I could generally get to the truth. It was then a matter of deciding if the situation was serious enough to tell the parents. Some were desperate to hear about every tiny incident, while other were extremely relaxed.
I suppose, as a Dad, I am somewhere in the middle. I don’t want to go up to the Office every time something happens, but I’d like to be informed about the big stuff. There is a system in place just for that. Texts are sent to parents when head injuries, fractures, etc occur. And stickers are sent home saying that a child has received medical aid that day. All very sensible.
Bad stuff happens in schools and outside of schools. It’s how we respond to it that matters. That way bullies get dealt with effectively. A recent study suggested that bullies who get away with bullying grow up unaffected by their actions, while victim-turned-bullies have issues.
Obviously those bullied have problems too, often with self-esteem and confidence which can lead to lack of job promotion and suchlike.
I’m writing this happy in the knowledge that my daughter is in good hands. She knows that the staff are there for her if she has a problem. I just have to pick up the phone. I shall try not to. The last thing my daughter needs is a Dad peering through the window and trying to solve all of life’s ups and downs for her. Far better for me to stand behind the white line and let her get on and deal with stuff her own way. I suppose all this is really about me letting go. Not easy after 4 and a half years.
Isn’t that what life, and school, is all about?