After deciding she wasn't going to stand idly by while our neighbourhood primary school was being wrecked by bullying, she has been a little busy. First she got on the phone with mothers of girls in the class where M-chan has been reigning supreme. Over the next ten days, my wife spoke to every single mother, sometimes for hours at a time. And frequently emerged in tears. She contacted the class teacher and the headmistress. Told them what was happening, but assured them that the mothers were on their side, they just wanted to stop the tormenting that had been going on unchecked for five years, resulting in countless sleepless nights, victims moving schools and one even continuing counselling three years since moving.
My wife quickly realised, not for the first time in her life, that she was in over her head. So she sought help. She started to read up on the bullying problem. She talked to neighbours with similar experiences, and she paid for a consultation with a professional counsellor.
Then, she managed to get 13 of the 15 mothers of girls in the class to meet for coffee this morning. Including the mother of M-chan. The morning coffee turned into lunch. Lunch turned into afternoon talks.
My wife had intended to keep accusations to a minimum, and all blame off the table. Maybe she succeeded in this, maybe not. But before the end of the day, every mother had their chance to have their say, to catalogue the ignominies their daughters had been put through. There were tears. There were uncomfortable moments. But there was an epiphany of sorts. Until today, every kid had suffered individually, but no-one had the full picture of what was going on. Least of all the mother of the bully. She said that she had no idea of the extent of the problem. At the end of the afternoon, she was in tears and my wife found herself comforting her, a fellow mother, who like everyone in the room, just wanted her daughter to thrive.
There's every chance that will happen. Because now there are no secrets. There is still mistrust, but there are also the beginnings of understanding and an agreement to work together to fix the problem. Now the hard work begins.
Happy Valentine's Day.