You never expect that sending your child to school would put her in harm's way. And if dealing with a bully in Kerri's class every day is not bad enough, yesterday Kerri had another inappropriate experience at school. One that she thinks is weird, and one that her Daddy and I find totally unacceptable.
When Kerri came home from school yesterday, she told me she had something to say but she did not want the teacher to know or to get in trouble. My eyebrows immediately went up.
Apparently, Kerri was on her last recess break of the day. An older girl that she really does not know took Kerri to the bathroom with her, and forced her into the stall with her. Kerri's teacher has a rule that no talking is allowed in the bathroom, so Kerri did not speak. The girl made Kerri watch her as she went to the bathroom. We are not sure what else happened yet, since Kerri will not say.
I immediately called the school, and the principal picked up the phone. I asked her if she knew this girl (I gave her the name), and she said there were three girls by that name in the school. Kerri interrupted and said (loud enough for the principal to hear over the phone) "She wears glasses". The principal knew exactly which girl this was. I then explained what happened, and before I could finish, the principal said that she had already addressed this with the girl and talked to her earlier in the day - but that she did not know Kerri was involved. I asked Kerri when did this happen, and the principal heard her answer again. And she lowered her voice and said: "Oh no, it happened again." I think I said "Excuse me?!", and the principal promptly said that this had happened to another young student earlier that day, and that she had talked to her about it. She then said she was going to call the girl's parents right away. Because Kerri was listening in, I thanked her and hung up, careful to keep my tone of voice cheerful.
I dropped the conversation with Kerri and tried to regain control. I talked to a dear friend who helped me calm down, and then called her Daddy to tell him what happened. I cannot explain the dread in our hearts, the sick feeling in our stomachs.
Kerri is a very bright child. We talked to her at dinner time about never going into a stall with anyone. We talked about privacy and what is and isn't OK. And Kerri kept saying that it was weird, that she felt weird, that she did not like it. We decided to drop the conversation again. Nana is coming over this weekend to carve a pumpkin with Kerri, and we are going to give them some space so they can "girl talk". Hopefully, Kerri will open up to Nana and tell her everything. And Monday, hubby and I are going to the office to speak with the principal. Because this is unacceptable, inappropriate, and inexcusable that my child is afraid to speak in the bathroom to ask for help in a situation like this - because of the school's rules.
I pray nothing else happened. I do not understand why an older child is taking first graders into bathroom stalls with her. Or what is being done in them or to them. I do not understand how the school allowed this to happen yet again to another child the very same day. And why they have rules that are unsafe. Because my daughter sticks to the rules. So she did not call for help.
Later that day, I took Kerri to her Kung Fu class, and talked to my neighbors (their kids enrolled in Kung Fu after watching Kerri attend a class). Their children attend a different (Catholic) school. And they proceeded to tell me that they had heard bad things about Kerri's school. That the school has a bad reputation. The hairs on my arms stood on end.
And then a friend reached out to me and told me how her young daughter had been sexually assaulted and molested. I almost threw up. I am so heartbroken for that little girl and her family. And I know only too well that could have been Kerri.
I am starting to think homeschooling is not such a bad idea, after all.
Life with Kerri keeps me up at night with worry.