Son Feeling Torn at School
Dear Annie: My husband and I bought a house in a safe neighborhood 12 years ago primarily because it has a great school district. We have two children, a boy and a girl, and I am writing about our oldest child, "Alan," who is 12. Alan is very sensitive and wants for everyone to get along. He can't stand it when people fight.
Alan used to love going to school, but lately he has been trying to stay home as much as possible, saying, "I feel sick." Yesterday, when he was home being "sick," we had a long talk and he opened up to me. He said there are four boys in his class who don't like three other students because the others are immigrants from South America who are still learning English. Alan likes both groups of boys but feels like he is being pressured to take sides against the Spanish-speaking students.
Alan has a best friend, "David," who is also quiet and sensitive, and Alan said David does not want to take sides either. He said that he wouldn't be surprised if fights started breaking out, and he and David just want to run for cover. He said both sides get together at school and when school is not in session, and they say awful things to each other.
My husband and I don't really know where to turn. I have read stories about parents who approached their school districts with similar complaints, only to be labeled politically on one side or another. We don't care about politics. We just want for our son to be eager to go to school and learn, the way he used to feel. Do you have any suggestions for how we can handle this? -- Concerned Mother
Dear Concerned Mother: You and husband might want to get together with David's parents, and, if you are all on the same page, have a meeting with their teacher. It is remarkable, and wonderful, that Alan opened up to you. It shows that you are a great mom. I'm sure the teacher is aware of the potential problem. It might make sense for the school, or Alan's class, to have a group discussion and allow all students to express their opinions -- and hear their classmates', too.
What is happening in your school district is not unusual, and the more we can communicate openly and accept many different viewpoints and perspectives, the more we will all get along, just as your wise son wishes.
Dear Annie: I am responding to your column about competitive, catty women. So sad to spend your 70s with "friends" that are so challenging in yoga class. Not sure yoga is all about that.
Now going on to my 80s, I'm having a great time with friends that love to laugh, enjoy what we can and cannot do, find joy in groups that not-so serious about life's difficulties. My suggestion is to find different friends that can laugh and enjoy the good in getting older and wiser!! -- Staying Away from Negative People
Dear Staying Away from Negative People: Your vibe attracts your tribe.
Dear Annie: The column from the person whose in-law, a gentleman who worked really hard all his life only to pass on only a few months after his retirement, was really moving. It truly underscores the fact that we need to work to live, not the other way around. It also struck me that you termed the letter "incredibly beautiful". It was, and I like that you subtly brought to light that "beautiful" is not always pretty.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.