WWYD – schoolboys

My son’s class is allowed to order pizza from the local kosher pizza place on Rosh Chodesh. This is not something that the school arranges, but something that they have to organize on their own. Usually they decide together and a phone call goes out to all of them to bring money to school so they can enjoy the pizza / poutine the next day.

Last week apparently there was a phone call that went out to everyone in the class except for 3 boys, one of whom was my son. The boy who did the calling just decided not to call these 3 kids for reasons that he had not wanted to explain.

These 3 boys came to school without pizza money. By the time they realized that they had been excluded it was too late for them to go home or call home to get money, and they ended up demoralized and sad, eating their “boring” lunches in the cafeteria while the rest of the class yummed it up in the classroom.

When they asked the boy who arranged it all why he didn’t call them, his answer was “I just didn’t”. In my book, this was mean. Why deliberately exclude these kids? The boy had the numbers for the whole class, he has called here before many times for the same reason.

My son doesn’t want me to do anything. He didn’t even want to complain to his rebbe / teacher. But he was very hurt. WWYD?

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  1. lady lock and load says:

    Leave it. Your son doesn’t want you to do anything, you should do what he wants. Otherwise he will not confide in you about the other hurts in his life for fear mama bear will want to come to the rescue.
    On the other hand, you can take him out for a pizza supper to make up for that! can’t hurt! :)

  2. Ashleyroz says:

    What LL&L said. Interfering could make it worse.

  3. Offthederech says:

    This is serious (passive aggressive) bullying. I would say especially if your son is under 10 or so and the same kid usually makes the phone calls (IOW it may happen again) make a major scene. If son is older, and if it’s unlikely to happen again, maybe let it go.

  4. I’ll look at this as a longtime teacher.

    You have to decide what’s the issue. The previous posters say ‘it’s about your son’. I say ‘it’s about education, about Torah, about what values are allowed/promoted/tolerated in a Torah environment.’ What this kid did was against our simple and basic values of how to treat other people with dignity. It was against our basic value of community. I’m sure he didn’t think in those terms; but the message should be properly transmitted.

    In my mind, it is about a real person – your son; but it is no less about something even greater than any one person.

    My thoughts are worth exactly what you paid for them.

  5. sheldan says:

    I’m torn between these responses. However, I think this time I’m on Mordechai’s side.

    You can speak with the rebbe/teacher/principal privately (you don’t have to tell your son you did this). The kid who didn’t call the three others (when he normally did) should be relieved of his duties as punishment for the “I just didn’t” attitude (and he should be told exactly why).

    Regardless of what your son said, he is hurt, and this must not be allowed to be repeated–end of story.

    • Mark says:

      sheldan – You can speak with the rebbe/teacher/principal privately (you don’t have to tell your son you did this).

      Yes, you can speak privately, but you can’t have any expectation that it will remain private. The next say the Rabbi could get up in front of the class and say “Yesterday I spoke with Mrs. Milner and she informed me of something very disturbing and I’d like to talk to all you bochurim about it”.

      I went to school and I know the “shut up code” :(

  6. mekubal says:

    Personally I can excuse what the boy did. Boys will be arsim from time to time, its the nature of boys. My problem is with the teachers for allowing it to happen. Teachers and Rebbeim have to be seeing this, I am not unfamiliar with the microscope that Yeshiva/Cheder children are under. If they are permitting it, that in my mind is a much bigger problem.

    Rav Pinchus Posner wrote something in the Jewish press a while back, like 7-8yrs ago. I don’t remember the whole story, but I remember that he was involved in a bullying incident. When the Rebbe returned to the classroom he said, “When I was a child, and the rebbe left the room it was expected that we would misbehave, even play tug of war with the bench. But bullying… demeaning another Jew… NEVER!! Such a thing is simply not Jewish.”

    So what you do is up to you, but in my opinion, which is probably worth about as much as Mordechai’s, is that if you want to lay the ax to the root of the problem, deal with the rebbe/teacher, not the boy.

  7. a.k. says:

    Why do you not propose a more active response for the next time? Like: have your son order pizza for himself and the other two boys who were left out, next time?

    You cannot force children to do Mitzwoth for other children. You have to teach your children that no-one is forced to accept them, but it is up to them to react and “make their own happiness” even if the others want to “leave them out”….

  8. shualah elisheva says:

    i don’t have an answer, really – only to say that my heart cracks a bit for your son and his friends.

    passive.aggressive bullying is the absolute WORST. harder to pin down, harder to discipline, and sometimes harder on the victim.

  9. this made me so sad! as a mom i just want to wrap my kids up in bubble wrap and protect them from every possible hurt! how very disheartening to feel the mama-bear-need to protect at school! (and do a dare say, at a religious school at that?!)

    i would talk to the teacher PRIVATELY and try to come up with some sort of life lesson/ consequence that the teacher can implement.

    since your son doesn’t want you to step in, i would leave it with him except for the occasional annoying mom comment such as, “that was sad/ mean/ etc” and “chin up buttercup (can you tell i have girls?!)” or something like that b/c that, too, is a life lesson.

    i’m sorry it happened to your son’s heart!

    • HSaboMilner says:

      My boys told me Friday night that my sense of justice when it comes to the kids is out of all proportion. I just smiled – they will be fathers one day and understand how there is no such thing as out of proportion when your child hurts.

      • amen. it might bring tears to their eyes when they realize it though!

        btw, i read the end of the thread and your solution and think it sounds reasonable, fair and sends the message of strength. good, good and good in my book! well done.

  10. Lion of Zion says:

    if you do decide to talk to the teacher, don’t be surprised if he passes the buck. i recently had an incident where i complained to the teacher about things my son was learning from classmates

    http://agmk.blogspot.com/2010/04/teaching-tolerance-to-jr-other-jews.html

    and i asked her to address it in class. she told me that i should call the boy’s mother and complain directly

  11. Mark says:

    And just a brief practical suggestion. Kids over a certain age should always have some money on them to cover things that they may have forgotten or just a general emergency (left lunch at home, cab/busfare, etc).

    • Lion of Zion says:

      Mark,

      yeah, i’m sure they’d keep it only for emergency use!

      Hadassah,

      next month let your son preempt the other boy and he should make the phone calls and do the ordering.

      • sheldan says:

        LOZ,

        Be careful. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        I suppose a better idea would be for both boys to duke it out and settle it that way (Hadassah, kidding…).

        • Lion of Zion says:

          you’re right. her son should let the other boy coontinue being in charge of ordering the pizza. her son should compete by organizing to order sushi

          • lady lock and load says:

            listen Mr. Lion, don’t start me on the little pishers in school having to order sushi! Sushi is expensive and us parents have enough to pay for! I say let them eat pizza and not get so fancy shmancy!!! :)

        • Mark says:

          I think LOZ meant that he should take over the job of calling … and make sure to call EVERYONE in the class!

          Question – Since everyone knows when Rosh Chodesh is, why do they need the calls in the first place?

          • HSaboMilner says:

            Mark – there was two days Rosh Chodesh plus they do not always do it plus they are KIDS – consistency doesn’t occur to them…

          • Mark says:

            I wonder why they don’t just announce it in the class and dispense with the phone calls at night???

  12. Debbie B. says:

    My kids go to public schools that are so hyper-vigilant about the heading off “bullying” that sometimes it makes me roll my eyes. I don’t know if all the sensitivity training of the kids helps, but I suppose if it might discourage the kind of bullying that is clearly at the heart of the pizza-ordering situation, they maybe its not such a bad thing.

    Then again, I think another public school that most of the boys in my son’s Hebrew school class attended probably also did “anti-bullying” education and that didn’t prevent them from being led by one true bully to gang up on my son. They taunted him and shoved him toward another boy telling him to fight him. They did this at every break for weeks until my daughter who is older caught them doing this and reported it. When confronted, the other boys were ashamed and stopped harassing my son (although being treated as a leper was not great either); the bully was unrepentant and still physically and emotionally abused my son whenever an adult wasn’t looking.

    So one could say “boys will be boys” because this kind of thing is certainly not unusual, but my sense is that these kind of kids grow up into nasty adults who do similar things to make other people feel excluded. The fact that the boy who did the calling for pizza had no reasonable (even “lame”) excuse like “the line was busy and I forgot to call back” indicates that the other boys were excluded precisely to be mean to them and make them feel bad. Why wouldn’t the boy say why he didn’t call some of the other boys? Because he knew that the real reason was not morally defensible!

    What are the parents like of the boy who excluded the others? I would want to know if my children acted in that way because I would want to convey to them how unacceptable I find that kind of behavior. But if the parents are the type “how dare you criticize my perfect child?” then it does no good to inform them.

    Will it be “worse” in some way for your son if you react? Yes, it might be. But doing nothing sends the message that one should not do anything in the face of injustice or when other people are getting hurt. Doing something shows that you care and sends a positive message even if there is a backlash (as there could be if the pizza ordering is no longer allowed). I was proud to hear that my daughter stood up to other kids who were making disparaging comments about someone else. Standing by passively helps bullies do their work.

    I personally would notify officials at the school, because allowing the ordering of pizza to be used as a weapon against some students should not be allowed. They don’t have to allow the pizza ordering at all, and they shouldn’t if it can’t be done in a non-hurtful way.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      If I thought it would do some good, i would notify the school. Unfortunately, nothing good would come of that. The teacher’s own son was one of the three left out – so he is well aware what happened.

      I told my son that two days before next rosh chodesh HE should make the phonecalls, making sure to include everyone, and to follow up in person the next day.

      I told him to notify the teacher that this is what will happen. Not to ask if it’s ok, but to tell him this is the way it is.

      • lady lock and load says:

        excellent hadassah. let us know how it worked out next rosh chodesh sivan. You empowered your son by giving him such great advice!

    • Mark says:

      Debbie – They don’t have to allow the pizza ordering at all, and they shouldn’t if it can’t be done in a non-hurtful way.

      If complaining about this to the school/Rabbi causes the loss of “pizza day”, not only will the bullies harass the complainers, but the rest of the class will too!

      BTW, Hadassah, were the excluded kids ones that are perceived to be “less frum”? Just curious. I doubt it because the Rabbis kid was one of them, but who knows. If so, it could be learned behavior from parents/teachers/Rabbis/etc

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