Don't Spit On My Son

Shortly after I picked up my kids from school today, my youngest, Mr. T, told me, "Something gross happened to me today."

I think I was expecting a tale of witnessing vomit or maybe some other kid having an accident in class. But no, not either of those things.

"A boy from Mr. W's class spit on me today."

That's not the kind of thing any parent wants to hear when they pick up their kid from school. I felt that kind of anger that starts in your toes and then just shoots up your body, that adrenaline rush where you know that if the kid that spit on your son was right in front of you, it wouldn't be pretty.

I asked T to tell me how it happened and apparently this kid, a kindergartener, just rolled up and spit on my son.

"Did he say anything to you? Call you any names?" I asked.

"Nope. Just spit," my son replied.

"Do you have any idea why he did it?" I was really confused. What kind of kid just comes up to another kid and spits on them?

T didn't know, but he did know that it really hurt his feelings and made him upset. Of course he told his teacher and thank goodness she sent him to Mr. W's class along with her teacher's assistant to tell what happened. Good move. My son shared how glad he was that the assistant was there with him.

"Did you tell Mr. W what happened?" I asked.

"Yes," my son said.

"And? What'd he say?" I asked.

"He said for me to forget about it. He said that kid's just a spitter," my son replied.

Say what? Uh, no, I'm not going to forget that some random kindergarten boy spit on my son.

I was hoping there'd be a note in my son's backpack from Mr. W explaining that he was going to be calling the spitting child's parent/guardian and blah blah blah - whatever needs to happen to make sure the parents take this spitting thing seriously would be done. But there was no note.

I want to know what's going to happen to make sure this child doesn't think he has the right to spit on my son again. I want MY son to know that you don't just brush off someone spitting on you. You don't just excuse that behavior.

I've been so upset about this all night and I'm trying to tell myself that Mr. W meant that he didn't want my son to worry about it or take it personally, that maybe this kid just has problems and so he spits.

Sure, if this boy is coming to school and spitting on other kids, he probably does have problems. His home life might be jacked up so maybe he's acting out. But there's a part of me that knows I don't really care how many personal problems or challenges this kid has.

No one has the right to EVER spit on my son. Period.

To make things even more complicated, my son added this little tidbit:

"And the spitter boy is black. How come another black kid would spit on me? Doesn't he know I'm black, too?"

We had to have a talk about how just because someone's black that doesn't mean they're going to be your friend, respect you or even have anything in common with you. But his shock that a black kid would spit on him made me wonder if something deeper is going on. Is he expecting that some of his Latino classmates would do so but a black kid wouldn't?

It made me wonder if my son is starting to feel like he's the "other" at his school. Maybe he feels so much like the other that he was hoping that at least another black boy wouldn't diss him.

I know I'm worrying about this because last week another boy at school, a Latino student, was inappropriately making fun of my son being black. This other boy is a first grader as well, but even at such young ages, kids pick up the racism they hear in their neighborhood and in the home. Then they bring it to school and test drive it.

When my husband heard about this kid spitting on our son, he rightfully flipped out. He went on for a good 15 minutes about how our sons are targets because they're different from the other kids at the school. Different racially and culturally.

"And when you stand out, there's always gonna be some chump who thinks he's gonna be the one to take you down."

My husband thinks it's only going to get worse for my sons as they get older. The thought of that depresses me. But I know there's some truth to what he's saying.

In the meantime, he wants a conference with this kid's parents because spitting on someone is considered assault in the State of California. I know how he feels because I'm upset about it too, but I seriously doubt that's going to happen. Besides, the reality is that our sitting down with the parents of the spitter probably wouldn't be productive. They'd be defensive and we'd want their child's head on a platter.

I guess the most important thing right now is that my son knows we aren't OK with this spitting going on. I want him to feel loved and supported here at home, even when the world spits it's crap on him.

What breaks my heart is that I know one day love won't be enough.


Jameil said…
DISGUSTING. I would've been LIVID. When I was about 12 or something a little white girl who lived across the street spat on I believe my sister. OH HELLLLLLLLLLLLLS NAW!!! We lived in a predominately white neighborhood (and had been there longer than them) & went to predominately white schools but my parents made sure we knew black history so we were NOT playing that. I screamed on that child like I was her momma!!! She was like 6 and said she didn't mean it and please don't tell.

YEAH RIGHT HEFFA!!! We immediately ran home to tell our mom who went across the street to confront the other mom (as nicely as she could). The other mom wasn't home but the babysitter was. When other mom got home, she came to our house apologizing profusely on the verge of tears saying, "This was not behavior they tolerated in their home." THEN WHERE DID SHE LEARN THAT?!? Yeah we never played there again and matter of fact they still live there and my mom's still across the street and I don't think I've even really seen them in 10 years. I have no clue what kind of interaction my mom has with those people today. I'd forgotten about it until just now.

Wow... But to tell your son to just brush it off b/c he's a spitter? UNACCEPTABLE!! Even if you never speak to the parents, it needs to be addressed by the teacher & principal in a meaningful way. (I must admit I was very shocked he was black.)
Unknown said…
Wow! First, beyond the obvious insult that comes with spitting, it is completely gross and even worse considering the illnesses going on right now. Second, I want to say that from our interactions at Dland, I can say that your boys are amazing and lovely. Third, as a teacher, I think you are right that there can be oh so much going on with this other student. He could have a crappy home life, he could have behavior issues, he could be a too-young-kinder (needed another year of preschool), or maybe this kid is just...a jerk. It happens. I see it all the time. Work with the teachers. They will (ok, should be) your ally in this. Best of luck! I feel so bad for your little man. My blood would be boiling too!
nick said…
You're right, it's not good enough that the teacher dismissed it by saying "the kid's just a spitter". Spitting obviously implies hostility and prejudice, even if it's quite innocent, so it shouldn't be permitted and the other kid should have been told not to do it.
BRATMix said…
A kid spit on me when I was a kid. Teacher's response: "Well, go spit on him!"

Sandra Jane said…
Talk to the school and let them know you are concerned. Maybe don't discount the parents of the spitter until you speak to them. We had a little boy that spat he was a foster kid taken away from his mom and had expereinced a lot of trauma. His new adoptive parents were great, dealt with him and eventually put him on ritlin. He now has friends and can function without his new parents worrying he will harm the other children.
Most importantly, it is good that your child speaks up for himself. I was recently proud of my daughter to point out a parent-aide that called her a liar. The school principal discounted it and said the woman has English as a second language issues and that my kid may have just thought her inflection from her accent was why my kid thought she was being mean. I still told her to not speak to my kid ever again. I probably came off like a difficult or crazy parent. As parents we do tend to over react at times but I'm still glad my daughter (2nd grader) spoke up. We all learned how to deal with these issues.
Thanks, Silverlakejane
Just Us Two said…
Just plain FOUL! I'm with your the school and inform them you would like a conference. If the school [teacher] is taking the attitude to sweep it under the rug, how do you know if these parents are aware their child is doing this at school. If they do know, they need to know that it will NOT be tolerated any longer...get the kid straight. Black, white, red or yellow no kid should be allowed to spit on another. It needs to be nipped in the bud now before he graduates to bullying (which this is slightly a form of).
Whew, now I need to calm down!
Ariel said…
I would raise hell with the school.
Saliva is UNSANITARY. Someone being a "spitter" isn't acceptable! Even if the kid had no other motivation than just spitting for spittings sake I'd still be furious!
UGH! Spitting SHOULD be assault!
I spent so much time in health care that it makes my skin creep just thinking about it.
(I'm in accounting now. It's been 3.5 years since someones tried to spit/hit/kick/bite me.)
So ya. Not okay. Not okay that the other teacher brushed it off. Just NOT okay.
Liz Dwyer said…
Oh that story is horrible. You put the fear in that little girl as you should have. Totally unacceptable. Still living across the street, wowzer. You know that little girl still remembers that.

I talked to the principal this morning and she was super supportive and said she'd look into it. I told her my son said it was black student and she said she didn't know if Mr. W has any black kids in his class. I would not be surprised if this kid is a darker Latino child and my son thinks he's black. If they're the same color as him, he says they're black -- which I'm sure doesn't go over to well if he's voicing that because you know the last thing anybody wants to be in America is black. Sigh.

Disneyland Mom,
That's so very kind of you to say about my boys. Very kind. I was worried about germs too because with health care the way it is you never know what sort of illnesses a child could be carrying. And yay that you're a teacher! I used to teach in Compton. I miss it.

Spitting is a total act of hostility and disrespect. I can't even imagine doing it to somebody. I hope the teacher really does follow up on it because this sort of thing unchecked is how kids turn into total bullies. Or psychopaths.

You didn't go do it did you? That was a dumb teacher.

Sandra Jane,
Talked to the principal so I'm hopeful. It's true that my sons, especially my youngest, speak up for themselves and they know we're going to take them seriously. One thing I always appreciated about my parents is that if I told them something happened at school they were completely my advocates and didn't brush things under the rug. -- But gosh, I think we all probably worry about coming across as a difficult/crazy parent, even in situations like this.

Just Us Two,
You're feeling like how I was STILL feeling this morning. I even had dreams about this because I was still so upset about it when I went to bed. If someone told me my son spit on someone else, my goodness, he'd be in so much trouble!

As far as bullying, I think there's WAY too much at schools these days and I know sometimes teachers brush it off as kids just being kids. Particularly with boys, if they can't "take" a little bullying, they're seen as being sissies.

Crazy unsanitary and absolutely not ok. It's absolutely assault - although often the person who was on the receiving end gets in as much trouble for assaulting back after being spat on. And wow, health care to accounting is a big difference. I'm sure you see much less gross stuff on a day to day basis. I admire those that can work in medicine because I know I couldn't.
Call Family said…
Ohhh Liz...I think I'd be scared to have you as one of my parents. The spitter is in kindergarten? They do crazy stuff all the time- like flick boogers for no reason. I am sensitive because (they are unsanitary creatures)I also deal with overreacting parents daily, and remind them that their child's story is only one piece of the picture (and I'd do the same for their child if the tables were turned). I would have had T ask the kid directly why he did it, and if the answer was unsatisfactory then he should have apologized. In public schools there are going to be all sorts of kids with behavior issues (if this is the case) mainstreamed in the regular classroom.
Clarice said…
Even though it may not be productive because the parents of this delinquent - deviant will be defensive; the fact is they and this kid needs to know up front that that behavior is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Just be calm and well spoken and reasonable and explain your side. Doing that will not have you labelled as a crazy parent. I started writing this as soon as I read what happened and did not even finish the the replies, I was so livid.

I am not a parent but in this case I am furious and I only know you from your blog but I feel like you are family and this is not acceptable behavior. This is why I am not a parent because I would be filing charges if the law allowed as in this case. A hard fast and clear message needs to be sent and this deviant cannot learn any sooner and the parents need to be called on to teach their child some manners.

The school needs to send a zero tolerance policy and message on disrespectful behavior. If Mr. W said do not worry to soothe the child at the moment and sent a note home and followed up with the process of swift, harsh punishment for the deviant spitter that includes the parents of the deviant. That is how adults handle a situation - acknowledge and soothe child and then deal adult to adult to step up and do their job protect the children even from other deviant children. Then these same adults use this as a teaching moment for the children and let them know that disrespecting each other is wrong and not acceptable. There are consequences for their wrong actions.

It teaches the children that they have value and worth and that does not change because someone else disrepects them and that disrespect is NOT ACCEPTABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE and will be punished harshly. It teaches children that if someone disrespects them do not accept it but do not use violence to solve it. Not adressing it leaves that deviant spitter to continue on until someone who also has been disrespected one time too many decides enough is enough and fights back hard. If kids are not taught to handle lifes negative events with out violence and without tolerating disrespect - then they later resort to violence. The little indignities (not saying this is a little indignity in anyway) add up over time unless they are addressed immediately and resolved.

My prayers are with you and your family - hope you have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

Liz Dwyer said…
Hehe! No, you'd be happy to have me as a parent. I'd cut up stuff for you and laminate for you and all that! :)

Yep, the spitter is in kindergarten and he spit on my son in the bathroom. Yeah, they do all kinds of gross stuff - the booger thing included but this struck me as a little different. T did ask him and the boy didn't answer -- turns out he really was spitting on everyone yesterday. The principal talked to him and T today and had him apologize to T for doing it and talked about how it was wrong. I'm so grateful she did that. We definitely have behavior issues up the wazoo at the school but still, no spitting on my kid. ;0

It is so sweet of you to feel like you know me like family. Some of you all who've been reading and commenting for a long time do indeed feel like family. I think you're so right that if the spitter doesn't learn that doing that is wrong, one of these times he's going to spit on a kid that will pop him in the lip and then it'll all go downhill from there. It's so hard for kids to learn to behave though because we set such a bad example for them. - But I want my son to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is to never just suck up such a disrespectful thing.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!
Liz Dwyer said…
Just a note to whatever staff person at my child's school that came here and left a comment. I would've published your comment however, I don't put the name of the school or the full names of any staff member at my kid's school because I don't want my children's school to be searchable. My blog is a rather anonymous one even though lots of people who know me read it. Please, for the safety of my children, do not leave comments with full names of staff members.

Two, Everything I wrote is 100% accurate and true. Whatever gossip you were told is not.

As far as accusing a teacher of doing nothing, the truth speaks for itself: 1)a kid spit on my son. 2)the teacher told my son to forget about it. 3)no note was sent home that evening informing me that my child had been spit on. -- which means I wouldn't have known about the incident if my son hadn't said something to me about it.

If you read the comments on this post you will see that I took the initiative to speak with the principal about the incident the next morning. She had heard nothing of this incident prior to my speaking to her. She took the initiative to pull both my son and the boy who spit on him from their classrooms and spoke with them - which I'm VERY grateful for. She took it seriously and that meant a whole lot.

But thank you for your concern for the teacher. None of us are perfect and I'm sure he meant well - but my job is to stand up and protect my child and I will not back down from that, even if it makes things a little uncomfortable sometimes.

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