My Son’s Two-Day School Suspension

The news echoed through the phone’s earpiece — two day suspension. The words cut through this mother’s heart like a hot knife through butter. The assistant principal was asking me to come pick up my second grade son. My body went numb. The only feeling was the force of my wounded heart pounding against my rib cage.

Wait? Why? How could this be? Haven’t I been a good enough mother? Haven’t I taught my children to be kind, show respect, and never harm another person? Don’t they get enough love? Did I drop the ball as a parent?

My Sons Two-Day School Suspension

My son has no sense of aggression or violence. He wasn’t attacking another student, but rather defending a friend from a school yard bully. He wasn’t the first one to hurl the water bottle, the weapon of choice; he was just the one with better aim.

Why weren’t we notified prior to the ax being dropped on this first time offender? I’m in no way upset that my son was disciplined for his poor choice. I’m disappointed that we were not involved in the life of our son. We were not called in to the school, so that, as a team, we could do what’s best and most effective for our son. Had someone called and talked to me, I could have told them that missing two days of recess would be a much more effective to a seven-year-old boy than two days off of school. My son calls that vacation.

But no one called me.

Instead, the severest of punishments was administered to a first time offender. A black mark that will follow him the rest of his school career. A label that will put him in a category, a box of high alert for future detentions, future suspensions, and future visits to the principal’s office. They can say what they want about not putting labels on children, but I’ve worked in a school. I was a teacher not that long ago.

I want to protect my boy from this system. I want to pull him out and hold him close to me, never to let him out of my reach. He’s still so innocent, still so pure. He’s not ready for the harsh reality of this world. So, for two days I just wanted to run, and never look back.

Then, after two days of playing the victim and feeling like a failed mother, I changed my mind. I dried my tears and began working to turn this negative experience into a positive one.

The system is broken. The system isn’t perfect, like everything else in this world. I know I won’t be able to change the system, but it’s the system that we’re a part of, right now, so we’re the ones who can make some changes.

We wrote a letter to the superintendent, expressing our disappointment.

We set up a meeting with the principal, to get to know her better, and discuss our concern with how the situation was handled.

We set up a meeting with his teacher and counselor, to discuss ways to make sure he is successful in school, not how he can fit in their box.

I filled out the background check, so I can volunteer in the school.

I set-up a babysitter for once a week to watch my youngest while I volunteer in the school.

Then, this week my mother-in-law is baking cinnamon rolls and we’re taking them up to the office staff.

I won’t be able to change the system, but I can change the way the system relates to us.

28 thoughts on “My Son’s Two-Day School Suspension

  1. Sarah Day says:

    That seems like a really harsh punishment for a 7-year-old, but if you can identify some resources for him, at least there will be a positive outcome. (When my daughter was a 1st grader, the teacher moved her desk up next to her own because she talked in class, with the idea that my daughter “would tell her when she was ready to move back into the room.” I had to break it to the teacher that my daughter probably loved sitting up front and was never going to voluntarily move back among her classmates.)

    • A truthful teacher says:

      Everyone on this side says that until the rolls are reversed and your kid is the one that get a bloody nose from a water bottle thrown… Then this would be an article about a school that allows bullying if someone didn’t get expelled. Parents need to think of all angles. He should of been kick out. Zero tolerance mean 100% zero tolerance. Be glad it was only two days. Be glad your school lets in ‘volunteers’ and that helps you feel better about yourself but explain to your child what the right action should of been instead of condoning violence and saying he just so young. The kid should be 8…. Old enough to know better than to resort to violence. Early intervention is always the key to fix behaviors. The school system in the US is broken but this ‘everyone gets a trophy’ generation is not helping the world either. That’s what you need to spend your time fixing instead of baking.

  2. Michelle petterchak says:

    I feel your pain. Jack was placed in in school suspension because he tried breaking up a fight. He thought he was doing what was right, but he had his hands on a boy pulling him off the other boy. I believe what he says, when though he is a middle school, because he has autism and doesn’t know lying. His world is black and white….. right and wrong. It is sad to have to tell your child he cannot stand up for another human being, if it involves touching, but this is the broken system.

    • Charity says:

      Michelle, you’ve taught me so much on how to be an involved mother in the classroom. I just need to do better at it. And Porter’s world is black and white, too. He kept saying over and over, this is kindness month and “boy A” was not being kind. *sigh*

  3. Melanie says:

    Man I feel for you on this one. My son got a day of in-school suspension when he was in first grade (15 yrs ago) for telling a friend they should “kill” the little girl who wouldn’t leave them alone on the playground. Thankfully, his regular teacher, who was out that day, recognized the over reaction and did all she could to remove the stigma. His day of suspension was spent in a 3rd grade class (the teacher his older sister had had) and they made him feel special all day. We talked about language and recognizing that we are responsible for the words we use.

    I am impressed with your ability to take the high road. This too shall pass, but I’ve been that crying mama, so I know how you feel.


  4. Melissa says:

    These kinds of things are so hard on a momma’s heart. I have always tried very hard to teach my kids that if you do the crime, don’t complain about the time, but its so hard when they aren’t dealt with justly. We had an incident last year where my daughter witnessed a classmate being sexually harassed/assaulted. When we reported it, first the school said my daughter was lying. Then, when one of the boys confessed, they were not punished in any way. But another girl was threatened with an out-of-school suspension for wearing a dress with straps that were thinner than the dress code. We pulled her out and started homeschooling.

  5. Chandra Hadfield says:

    Oh sister, I know what you are talking about. Last year, my oldest son’s 2nd grade year, was the worst experience for all of us. He received a half day suspension, in the principal’s office for saying he wanted to destroy the school. This happened after the teacher humiliated him in front of the class. He said it on a whim in the bathroom, and another student reported him. I know he could not, or would not destroy the school, but they take that stuff so seriously these days. I can just say we’ve been there, too. You’re not alone. My mama heart feels what you feel. I could go on, but I’ll just say I can relate!

  6. Tara says:

    I’m not a Mom yet but I work at a church. I agree with you that not getting recess would have been more effective. It sounds like you made wise choices. Blessings to you as you volunteer in his classroom etc.

  7. Krystal says:

    Awwww Charity you’re so sweet. I never really thought about long term effects of this. But for me this is something we teach our sons to do. If they see a helpless kid being bullied, we want our sons to stick up for them. With suicide on the rise because of bullies I’ll gladly let my son take the punishment for doing what is right. We can deal with consequences and reputations later. If the teachers were paying close enough attention maybe your son would not have had to step in. I’d be proud. Proud that my son has a caring heart and proud that he put his own concerns aside to do what God has called us to be. Salt and light.

    • Charity says:

      I was so proud. I even said I was to the assistant principal that I was, and he agreed with me, which made his decision even more blatantly misplaced. Thank you for reminding us how important it is to stick up for those being bullied. You made me more proud of my son.

  8. JulieK says:

    Oh boy – I can’t imagine how distressing this must feel for you. If it helps any… I was a former middle school teacher and… if your teachers know your son at all, it sounds like they’ll figure out pretty fast that the punishment was too severe for this first-time offender who acted what seems like out of character for him. I doubt they will hold this over his head for years to come as you fear. Sure it might be on his paperwork but people know the truth in their day to day interactions with kids. 🙂 Take heart – you will get through this and your son will too!

    • Charity says:

      Thank you so much. I love hearing from other’s perspective, because it’s good to know that it’s not all bad. I’m feeling so much better about this already.

  9. Jen says:

    Such a tough situation. This parenting thing is hard. We do our best to teach our children to do what’s right. And sometimes our definition of what’s right is interrupted a little differently. You can’t fault him for standing up to bullying. I’m so glad you went to the school and did all those things. More parents need to get involved. If no one starts the conversation things will never change.

  10. Lisa Brittain says:

    Charity, I feel your pain and shock and anxiety and questions – how? why? what on earth? I feel it all deep in my heart because I’ve been there too. I’ve been there as the mother of a 1st grade boy who was getting punched in the stomach every day at school, and taking it because he knew if he fought back he would get in trouble. The teacher was the one who told us this was happening after it had been happening for about a week. My husband told our son to punch the kid in the nose the next time it happened, assuring our son he would come to sit with him in the Principal’s office. That was 17 years ago round about. Our son followed Dad’s directions and the two boys ended up with some consequences at school and later ~ best buddies! I know this action in our current day is politically incorrect.
    My heart hurts for you and me, but more for our generations of children growing up in a very, very broken system which relies on a “police – justice” system rather than relying on and building up family to support and nurture children into adulthood. This is a growing problem. It’s a dangerous problem. Our justice system is moving into our school systems and elbowing parents out in the name of safety. You are correct to take action and move into the system to be a presence and a voice of reason, speaking the truth in love. As the mother of sons in college, my heart hurts for the way the justice system has moved in to correct our children. Young people are now arrested for simple things like realizing they forgot their purse and not having a driver’s license when pulled over for a routine stop or speeding. There’s no need for drugs or alcohol or racing to be involved. For a long time I thought we were the only ones, but I’ve had opportunity to speak with many college students who have been raised in good homes, Christian homes with loving parents who were taught to respect authority, especially policemen, who have been arrested for the slightest of offenses.
    I’ll climb down off my soap box now. You can delete my comment if you find it offensive in any way. I just understand…from a more experienced place…as a mother who loves her sons, and surely didn’t get it all right…but did teach her sons to love, respect, honor in the name of Jesus.

    • Charity says:

      Oh yes! Your comment is so helpful and encouraging, because I’m realizing more and more people need to speak up about the things that really matter. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your words are wise.

  11. Anita Ojeda says:

    Ohh! My emotions are all over the place on this one! First of all, it doesn’t sound as if the consequence fits the infraction. I’m a teacher and my husband is a principal, and NO ONE gets suspended for a first time offense unless it’s really, really severe and the safety of the rest of the students is called into question (black eyes, bloody nose, etc). Suspension is always the last item on the list of escalating consequences–a visit to the school counselor is usually first. If it makes you feel any better, there are some people out there who don’t hold suspensions against kids ;). I came to realize the importance of not holding it against a student or pigeon-holing a child back when our oldest daughter got suspended and kicked off the varsity volleyball team her sophomore year (she happened to attend the school I worked at) for aiding and being with a girl who got caught shoplifting at Wal Mart. Yikes–I certainly understand your mamma heart’s pain. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that someone out there thinks your child is worthy of being suspended. I think you’re doing the right and respectful thing by getting more involved in your son’s school and trying to understand the people and the system a little better. There’s a fine line between being your child’s advocate and being a tiger mom that goes in slashing and smashing (I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of those conversations, too). My daughter’s little experience actually opened our eyes to the fact that she desperately needed help for some anger issues she was experiencing caused by PTSD from my husband’s catastrophic cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment and recovery. So, while I’m not glad that she got suspended, and I was devastated by her behavior and the consequences she had to endure at the time, I think we’re both better people because of it. Her experience was a catalyst for change and she started making good choices in her life (and I learned a lesson in compassion towards kids who mess up). She graduated from a university summa cum laude last summer at 21 and got accepted to a prestigious MFA program. I actually think we teach our children a lot by the way we react to the discipline they receive at school (believe me, I wanted to go all tiger-momma at school when she got suspended). Helping them understand that respecting authority is important but trying to change a broken system within the context of respect is even more valuable. Kudos to you!

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