I hate this post

We were driving in the car yesterday evening talking about our day when Rex quietly said from the back seat, “Mommy, the kids at school were mean to me today. They were kickin’ and pinchin’ me…and well…they were not very nice kids.”

I almost had to pull the car over and vomit. This is my worst nightmare for Rex. I know he’s quirky and different and has the most massive imagination in the universe, and I know those qualities don’t usually win a kid the “most popular” vote. He’s not interested in soccer or sports, is a very young 6-year-old who still wants to build houses for his animals all day long.

I tried to press him for more information but he’s not good with this kind of verbal communication. He just changes the subject to things like snipes or frogs. I did ask if he told his teacher. “Yes,” he said, “but she didn’t understand me because she only speaks German.”

I feel like bulldozing my way into the school today and throwing a few little German kids around. My first thought was yank him; if kids are being mean to him he’s out of there. It’s one thing when a kid deals with a bully and has the power to tell an adult, but when the adults have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE SAYING it’s a totally different ball game.

Unfortunately, he can’t live here in my house and hide from real life. He’s got to learn how to make a place for himself in this stupid world and get along with other kids. If I didn’t love him so much I would home school him until he was twenty.

Lucky for me he got a rash on his face last night and we called the neighbor (a good friend and pediatrician) for a quick consult. A little cream and I put Rex to bed, then decided perhaps we should ask the doctor for a little advice.

I am so, so glad we asked. First he wanted to know if we’re seeing any effects from school in his home life–regression, violence, major melt downs, overreactions or bed wetting etc. So far Rex has been really happy here and we haven’t seen any kind of outbursts. That gave me great peace of mind. Then we talked about kids in the quirky category.

According to our doctor, if you got 100 6-year-olds together you’d find that a good 20% of them are at Rex’s bus stop on the route to maturity. We talked about how much childhood has changed just in one or two generations, how quick we are to expect children to put down their toys and grow up. Our society has high expectations and demands more emotional maturity than many kids are ready for. I hate that about society.

His best friends are Harrison and June, they love each other and play constantly, especially he and Junie bug. I wish you could see what Rex can do with scissors and an old box, or with a silly piece of string. He comes home from school and explodes creativity all over my house every single day.

For the record, creativity is super messy.

How do I help my boy? I am going into the school today to talk/pantomime to his teacher to see if she has any suggestions. German or American schools, he’s going to come up against this regardless.

When he said his morning prayers today and actually prayed that the kids at school would be nice to him I almost cried. He usually just prays for his animals. Perhaps this is the Lord’s way of teaching Rex to ask for help with his problems. Oh, the refiner’s fire is so uncomfortable.

Heaven help me help him.



  1. Oh I hate this post too. You know what I mean. I have a boy a little like Rex. So tender, sweet, extremely soft feelings and I’m already having panic attacks about sending him to kindergarten next year.

    I know you are a wonderful mother and will make sure Rex gets whatever he needs. I wouldn’t worry about any of your children with a good mama bear like you behind them. I know you will find what is best for him, I am rooting for you!

    I know I’m not much of a commenter, but I’m loving all your posts from halfway across the world.

  2. Do you have one of those fancy phones or ipad? My thought is, you could find an app that could translate for you… so you can at least get SOME kind of point across to the teacher. Also, what about inviting those kids over to your house for a party and show them some American games (or come up with some unique/cool games and pretend they’re all the rage in America.)

    I do think though… you’re right in that it’s a valuable life lesson for him to learn to rely on the Father to help guide through these treacherous waters called Life.

  3. Oh, this post made me cry. We are going through similar in an American school. My daughter has Tourette’s. She just was diagnosed a year ago and it became official this summer. The kids are cruel and mean and teenagers. It breaks my heart how she is struggling. It hurts, but I do know that she will be an amazing adult woman with all these trials. I do know that Heavenly Father never, ever has us go through trials like these without also provided blessings and lessons for us to remember. Perhaps the best thing that we can do is keep reminding them how very much they are loved and wanted and needed. Hopefully one of the teachers at your school will speak English and will be able to understand what the problem is and can help. It is so hard to watch them struggle.

  4. I too hate this post. But I love you for how you’re parenting Rex. And I love your doctor for being awesome. I have a neighbor kid I’ve wanted to drop-kick a time or two but I also know George has to learn to choose good friends. Parenting sucks rocks sometimes.

  5. Oh, my heart is breaking for poor Rexy! Is there anyone who can help with translation?

  6. This breaks my heart. I’m so sorry your little boy is being bullied. I hate it whenever I hear it. Always.
    I think you are so amazing and brave to do what you are doing. Thank you for your example. I hope Rex makes a good friend to have at school soon so you won’t have worry so much. Here is to tomorrow being a better day.

  7. I’m sorry. My son (5) is a lot like Rex, too. He likes to play Cat and is very emotionally sensitive. I’m a little worried for him because kindergarten starts tomorrow and I don’t know how the other kids will respond to my sensitive and shy little boy. I hope it gets better for him (and you) soon.

  8. Annie, you’re such a good mom. Rex is going to be fine because of how much you care, how invested you are. Think about the struggles he might have if he had a Mama that didn’t work like you do to make sure he gets what he needs.

    And heaven will help. Because you asked, He will.

  9. UGH! This is never fun to have to deal with. “German or American schools, he’s going to come up against this regardless.” Alas, you couldn’t be more right, with this statement & approach. As far as what your pediatrician friend was saying about childhood having changed so much in just a generation or so, is also so very very true. We’ve seen this with our daughter as well (lol, she’s a messy creative type as well). Just remember that not ALL kids are mean. We had to learn that with her. 2nd grade was her roughest elementary year, she’d come home in tears every day. And I had no idea how to fix it. In the early years, kids treated her differently because they played basketball & t-ball while she danced at a ballet academy… also, we didn’t (and still don’t) allow her to sleepover at anyone’s house except family’s…. Shoot, even now, we’re a “different” family than the norm where we live. Let’s face it, being LDS isn’t as common & accepted as we’d like… I don’t have to ground her from TV & video games, instead I have to ground her from her books just to get her to do her homework, chores, & clean her room… we live so much farther out of “town” than the other kids… she’s an ONLY child who doesn’t know what its like to have siblings, especially older siblings, so she hasn’t had anyone show her the ropes of school & popularity & “the norms”— while at the same time, she’s not an only child who’s allowed to behave like an ONLY… and according to her peers, I’m a mean mom for not letting her have a Facebook account. ::shrugs:: I’m okay with all that & more importantly so is she. There was a time that all this bothered her tremendously, however she’s realized that time changes a lot of things. Today, what’s different is that she has developed an interest in some sports, and she feels good when she participates… not just health-wise, but she feels like she’s part of something. That doesn’t mean Rex needs to go join a sports team if he’s not interested, by any means. What I’m getting at is that my daughter realizes not only that she can change, but that the other kids can as well. Some of the kids who were meanest to her in 2nd grade, are now, in High School, kind & good friends, while some of her closest friends back then have moved on & aren’t as kind now. Through it all, she’s learned to avoid cliques, lean on her parents & be the happy social butterfly she’s decided is the most enjoyable person to be. As for Rex, just love him like you do. If he knows he’s okay with his family, then he’ll be much more comfortable in his skin no matter the friend-weather forecast now or to come. Still go holler at a teacher or administrator (or twelve), but remember that Rex WILL be appreciated eventually. It’s just a long hard road to travel. Love ya guys! Best of luck with it all. ::hugs::

  10. I am going to kick some major Deutsche-butt! They’d better leave him alone or ELSE–you know I have family in low places, right? Just say the word.

    While I agree that kids need to learn how to stand up for themselves at some point let me say this from a place of ‘knowing’: if it causes an overwhelming amount of anxiety, gets in the way of his learning or he doesn’t have the skills to appropriately resolve the issues (ie. language/communication/maturity skills) then sometimes (big qualifier there) it is just too much to ask of them for the time being. We as their parents need to take the time to teach how to appropriately resolve conflict and express what it is they want. Sure–this takes a whole heck of lot longer than they way we instinctively do things.

    Or we can just go back to the instruction my dad gave us 8 kids: Warn them 3 times, then put them in the hospital.

  11. Oh Ms. Annie I hate this post. Rex is such a loving child and to not be able to express hisself to and adult for help. I am so thankful he did pray for that and he mentioned it to you non chalantly. That is a huge start to communication for his little loving heart. You are and awesome parent and I am sure that god will help work this out for you all. HUgs and prayers your way.

  12. I cried for Rex. I want the kids to be nice to him. I don’t want him to lose his creativeness. Hugggs for you and Rex.

  13. I am not a poster… and I came along your blog quite accidentally and have enjoyed your posts until this one. I am so sorry … and I know that coming from a stranger, this sound incredibly lame … I have been in similar shoes to yourselves. My husband is in the oil and gas game and we have lived in several different countries and dealt with different schools … it’s tough. The first 6mths are a killer with lots of up and downs and after 12mths you tend to find your groove. The fact that you are dealing with a different language is massive and my hat is off to you for placing your son in a local school. My eldest sounds of a similar personality to yours. Jake marches to the beat of his own drums…and he’s wonderful but definitely not in the “typical box”. He struggled against bullying in his school in Malaysia – not being a sporty kid, not having a mean bone in his body, and not your typical academic kid tends lead to some issues. But you know, he’s 14 and an amazing kid. He looks back on that time with disappointment but also with understanding and compassion. It has made him an advocate and stronger in his faith. The refining fire is painful and hard to bear esp when it’s your kids. Rex is talking to you… this is huge!!! The fact that you are prepared to face the school is huge (language barriers and all) The fact that he has an amazing relationship with his siblings is massive…. All these things are magnificent and will hold him in stead. I wish I could have done more for my Jake but I also wouldn’t want to take away the life lessons he’s learnt through that period…. Hope this helps….

  14. Barb Snyder says:

    Alan and I spent some time tonight reading your blog and wanted to let you know that we are thinking of you and of Rex. We had Open House tonight and Alan met some wonderful families and their nervous kindergarteners (who start sschool tomorrow)…some who are probably just like Rex. Your “old” kindergarten teacher wants to let you know that your Rex is going to be okay and he wishes he could meet him someday. Be thankful for Rex’s imagination and his young ways…they grow up way too fast. Hang in there…you are in our thoughts.

    Barb and Alan Snyder

    • annie valentine says:

      Oh Barb, thank you so much. And here I was keeping it together so well up until now. For those of you who don’t know, Alan Snyder was my kindergarten teacher and his wife taught first grade. They are so very, very wonderful and are possibly the most wonderful teachers to ever walk the school halls.

  15. Oh man. This is the thing I like least about being a parent. Makes it hard to have charitable thoughts. I hope things resolve well and soon. Good thing Heavenly Father asnwers prayers. Especially little boy’s prayers.

  16. This post totally spoke to me. I love (and hate) having kids exposed to the world for the reason you hate this post. Thanks for this post.

  17. You probably don’t want to hear this, but I’d pull him out this year. There is no question that difficult times are ahead and he’ll have to learn how to cope, but the poor kid has zero skills right now. He’s powerless, and that can lead to all sorts of emotional and health concerns.

    My suggestion? Home school him for a year and immerse him in as much German as you can get your hands on. Have him watch the German version of “Dora.” Get Berlitz for kids. Sign him up for a once-a-week playgroup with kids YOUNGER than him. They’re learning German, too, and because he’s older and bigger they’ll be less likely to bully him.

    I’m all in favor of prayer. But when Brigham Young was asked to help pray to get a wagon out of the mud, his counsel was to ‘get off your knees and push.’ We aren’t faith healers; we’re expected to work, and to act, particularly when it comes to advocacy for our kids.

    Trust me, Annie, Rex doesn’t have to learn every single life lesson by his 7th birthday. A year at home won’t hurt him, and it could make a huge difference next year.

  18. This tugs at my heart strings, and I have never met your little guy. I have a son just like that, and he is now 20 and in Mexico. I still worry and panic and want to take care of him. You will know what to do. That’s how inspiration works. You are a good mama.

  19. yvonne stewart says:

    Oh Annie and Rex, my little guy and I went through the very same thing through his years of childhood. I can tell you that my own gentle, creative young man grew up, married, became a father, has a great job and is still the joy of our life. You will think of many ways to help him, love always does. I held my boy close ,and helped him excel at what he was good at, his self-confidence bloomed when he found music, debate, politics, Rex will also, he has a wonderful loving mother and family and there is nothing a loving family, standing together can’t conquer. Help him cherish the fact that he is different, there are not enough people in this world that stand out from the crowd.

    • annie valentine says:

      Yvonne, your words are like cool water to my soul. Jason and I just read your comment together and I can’t help but bawl all over the place. Thank you. Thank you for loving your boy and for reminding me that we will come through this better and stronger and happier. You are amazing.

  20. Annie,
    You know I love you. But I agree with DeNae. This may be in large part because I’m homeschooling my 6-year-old. And it’s not because I don’t love him or want to “hide him from real life”. Quite the contrary. It has been the best thing for my son, my relationship with him, my husband’s relationship with him, our family, and his learning. He is still social. He has dozens of friends and interacts with them daily. In fact, his confidence level has skyrocketed since last month. Homeschool is not what it has been stereotyped to be. You’d be amazed with the diversity and depth of options. Is it for you? I have no idea. I just wanted you to know there are options beyond the stereotypes and the system.

    Okay. Soapbox over. I love your face and want you to be happy wherever you are. Really, I do. I hope you know that. No matter what my soapbox may be, my friendship isn’t conditional. Love you.

  21. Annie, there’s not much to add, but I’m so glad you and the teacher found some good solutions for Rex. That’s got to be a relief.

    Mostly, I just want to say “thanks” for creating such a great place to come talk. It’s so nice to pop in here on a tough day and know there are other moms and kiddos who have lived through similar experiences together and survived.