8-Year-Old Accused Of Having ‘Out-Of-Control’ Behavior Talks About His Life
My 8-Year-Old Could Have Killed Someone
My youngest, Fiona, has always been a follower. She's a pretty smart girl, but can definitely be led astray. Sure, all children act stupidly from time to time and girls often try to emulate their peers. But mine took it to the next level.
The pattern started around age 7 or 8 when she had been known to listen to — and then instantly act upon — the suggestions of her pals. One particularly close friend led the way, talking her into all kinds of trouble in the second grade. From not paying attention in art class and making a mess of the cafeteria, to icing out a third kid in a crazy girl triangle and then actually slapping said child during math class, Fiona "followed orders," which made her path a bumpy one that year.
Of course, I can't blame others for my child's misdeeds. She didn't have to listen. And if the infractions had stopped at run-of-the-mill mean girl stuff and that one-time whack, I wouldn't have lost so much sleep. Yet Fiona managed to get involved in something so serious that I shudder each time I rehash it in my head.
It was June, late in the school year, when she and two others (yes, one was that same queen bee) wandered off during a free period and ended up on the top floor of the school. There's a rooftop green space just outside the door, with an herb and vegetable garden and rocks lining the pathways. Apparently the girls thought it would be fun to start tossing these pebbles over the edge at cars parked on the street below. And then a much larger stone sailed off the roof and smashed a windshield.
It could have hit someone on the head. Or landed in a passing baby stroller. Her thoughtless behavior could have accidentallykilledsomeone. I doubled over in my office cubicle when the call came from school, and I immediately raced home. I prayed it was a mistake, that she wasn't the one who threw the rock — that maybe she wastherebut then ran to tell an adult. As it turned out, a teacher caught the three girls after people on the block frantically reported falling debris.
It didn't matter who cast which stones — Fiona and the others got what was coming to them. We all had a sit-down with the head of the school and they were removed from the year-end activities. I was livid, of course, and mortified over the possibility that it could have turned out far worse. She cried buckets of tears, and we had a very sad start to summer. But some good came of it as well. We talked a lot about peer pressure in the weeks that followed, about doing the right thing even if it means your friend will be mad or won't like you any more.
Fiona grew up quite a bit in the next grade and her middle school years were a dramatic improvement — she was mostly able to avoid girl cliques and back-stabbing by taking the high road. Of course she was hurt a few times by classmates who tried to form "clubs," leaving less socially adroit peers behind. She wouldn't let herself be a part of this — and was stung in the process — left out of the "cool gang."
We still talk what happened up on the roof and count our lucky stars that no one was hurt. In a way I'm glad this event occurred, if only to serve as a watershed moment in her life. There was "before the roof," when she ran a little wild, and now the "after," where she's older and somewhat wiser. I'm sure my post-roof daughter won't always be problem-free, but I know Fiona has learned to handle herself better — and I can breathe a little easier.
Video: Was this 8-year-old bullied to death?
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