We took Dawson out of public school after 7th grade for many reasons. But one was because he was being bullied, and it had been going on for two years.
Well, this week we learned that Dawson has been bullied again. This time by family members who don't agree with our decision to homeschool.
Out of the blue on Wednesday, and I really did feel like it was out of the blue, Dawson got angry about an assignment. He stormed upstairs and destroyed his room, throwing around his clean and folded laundry and papers and yanking his comforter off his bed. A tantrum. (The last tantrum he had like this was when he confessed the bullying and fear he was having in the 7th grade.) He told me that he hated homeschooling and that he was torn about going back to school. He said, "You have no idea how torn I am about it."
He was right. I had no idea.
In fact, I had been noticing how much he was LOVING homeschooling and LOVING how we have the freedom for him to learn the way he best learns and LOVING his homeschool guitar class, and various other things. I was taken aback. Really I was. There were no signs.
But, he's a boy, so I guessed it was completely possible that he was feeling one way and telling me that he felt another. Or that he had feelings he wasn't wanting to discuss.
But after a calm conversation over lunch, the truth came out. He said something that just caused a "click" in my mind. He had spent the previous 24 hours with family members at a funeral. And I knew what was going on. He started sobbing when he told me that members of the other side of his family make him feel bad about homeschooling. He said they "throw their opinions at him". In fact, one of them even said they were "disappointed" in him. He was devastated. He didn't disagree with them at the time, in an effort to just allow it to blow over. But it buried deep in his heart and he was so hurt by it.
He cried for quite some time (even to the point of an anxiety attack) while I assured him that he is a wonderful person with no reason to doubt who he is or what he is doing with his life. I told him that these people have no idea what they are talking about, that they have no idea what homeschooling is really about and the reasons behind our decision. Not one of them has ever asked. I told him that I cannot think of one thing that I would change about him, if I had the chance. He's that great.
After he calmed down a bit, he told me that his angry outburst had nothing to do with whether or not he wants to continue homeschooling. He said that he still does. His outburst was because of the hurt he was feeling, the true realization that someone in his family does not care about him (his words).
I told him that these family members should be talking to ME if they don't agree with our decision to homeschool. But, instead, they choose to bully a 14 year old boy and shatter his self esteem. Over the past few weeks I have seen his confidence sour before my very eyes. In a 24-hour period, it crashed. It's not the first time that's happened, over various, ridiculous things. But now that he is older, he understands it more. It hurts more. People either don't realize or don't care that a few negative words can pierce a person's soul and shatter his spirit.
I told him that if we needed to revisit the idea of him going back to school, that we should. But he assured me over and over that we DO NOT need to discuss it.
I want to go kick somebody in the shin right now. But, it wouldn't do any good. All I can do is try to help Dawson deal with his side of this situation. He will be confronted with mean people in his life and, unfortunately, he has to learn how to handle it. I felt it was better to just help him see that he should be confident in who he really is, to know that we love him, and that he has a Father in Heaven who is immensely proud of him. We are immensely proud of him. He is an amazing young man, and homeschooling has a good deal to do with that. I know it in my heart, or I wouldn't be doing it.
Dawson went to church that night, and Rick picked him up so that they could talk. Dawson was much better when he went to bed, back to his old self. I am praying that he will just always continue to talk with us so that we can work through problems.