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DS making "offensive"; remarks to another child??

(82 Posts)
MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:04:23

Okay, this might be long so I apologise in advance.

DS in in year 4. At the moment they are doing a topic on the war (think it's WW2) and are laerning a lot about what went on at the time and the English defeating the Germans and so on.

Last night I had a phone call from a Mum of a boy in DS's class who said that as he sat down to do his homework on the topic, her DS said that my DS had said something along the lines of "if you're German you should leave the country." Apparently, the other boy's Grandmother was present when he repeated the remark - and she's German. We didn't know that, obviously. It seems the Grandmother became very upset, and the boy refused then to complete the homework.

My initial reaction is that it's one of those situations where my DS has said something without realising that it may be mildly offensive to others, and he hasn't grasped the full meaning of what he's said.

However, the other boy's Mum is making a real meal out of it and is going to see the class teacher. This annoys me, as the class teacher is new to the school so doesn't know the children well, and I don't want him to form the wrong opinion of my DS who wouldn't dream of hurting another person's feelings. I've never had any trouble in school to do with him being unpleasant. I took a letter in to school this morning to be given to the class teacher, in which I described what had happened and the telephone call I'd had from the boy's Mum. The Mum will probably see the teacher after school today, so, for my position, I wanted to 'get in first' if you like, and explain that my DS didn't mean it the way she's making it sound. I also said to the teacher in the letter that I am happy to see him 'should he feel it necessary.'

I just feel that the other Mum is being completely oversensitive. She did say to me on the phone that she feels that my DS said it without malice, so why then didn't she just explain that to her DS without dragging me and the teacher into it? Okay, it's her perogotive to take it up with me and the teacher, but I do feel it was un-neccesary. It sounds like she's upset her own DS now by over dramatising it.

I have taken my DS aside, and explained a few things to him and told him that I know he didn't mean it nastily, but in future it's best not to pass remarks about other people's culture, race etc.

I think the Mum is going to seek me out after school. Asd far as I'm concerned, the subject's closed. I'm certainly not going to go over it with her again. She was on the phone for about 15 mins last night giving it the bleeding heart routine, and I was trying to dish up dinner. The whole thing has really annoyed me.

Also, how do I know that my DS hasn't just said something in general about the war that has been misconstrued by the other boy? Why should I just take hers and her Son's word for it?

What do others think?

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:04:48

Sorry that is long blush

seeker Wed 12-Sep-07 12:11:36

What does your ds say he said?

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:17:30

He said that he'd said "something about the Germans." It's possible that he did say what the Mum is saying, but he definitely wouldn't have meant it nastily. He wouldn't have realised how it could be perceived.

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:18:37

When I told him that his friend's Mum had been on the phone and why, he became upset and cried. I felt sorry for him.

fairyjay Wed 12-Sep-07 12:20:01

Some mums do get things totally out of proportion in the heat of the moment.

What about suggesting that she invites your ds for tea, so that he can meet the German grandma, and find out for himself what a lovely person she is.

I'm sure the teacher will take a balanced view.

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:20:19

The other Mum has real issues with the whole war topic, and thinks that they shouldn't be doing it anyway. As far as I know, she's the only one with that opinion. DS has found it all very interesting. The other boy's Mum thinks that they're too young and it's too 'deep.'

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:23:11

I think the teacher will see the situation for what it is too, I'm not worried about him to be honest. I could suggest the tea thing, but at the moment, I don't feel much like talking to her, and I'm not sure that DS would want to go now anyway.

It's just annoyed me that my first contact with a new teacher is to do with something slightly negative.

professorplum Wed 12-Sep-07 12:23:27

If he did say what the other mother said then I don't see how he couldn't have meant it in a nasty/offensive way. Year 4 is old enough to know that comments like that are mean. If the other mother feels that you don't understand what the big deal is then she is likely to go on at you until you do.

Threadworm Wed 12-Sep-07 12:24:21

If I was a mum involved with this I would assume that one or other of the boys had briefly got hold of the wrong end of a stick and said something accidentally offensive without holding any genuinely offensive views. I might check it out briefly, and remind the boys gently about tolerence, etc, but I would certainly not assume that anyone had behaved wrongly at all.

It does sound like the other family has some acute sensitivities that your ds has accidentally activated.

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:26:39

I can see what you're saying professerplum, but I guess you'd have to know my Son - he really wouldn't have wanted to cause upset. Even if he did say it, and perhaps understood the implications, I think it would have been nothing more than a poor choice of words on his part, he maybe wanted to say something to do with the topic and the Germans being defeated and just put it really badly.

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:27:43

Well said Threadworm, that's exactly how I feel.

seeker Wed 12-Sep-07 12:30:51

I think your son should apologize - it's always a bad idea to make negative remarks about different nationalities - even lightly. One of the reasons that I don't like them doing WW2 as a topic so young - I think it's very polarizing. As an aside - if it was my child, the fact that he got upset and cried would suggest that he did have a fair idea that he shouldn't have said what he said - but I am a tough old boot and a cynic!

I agree with threadworm, they are only young, I really think the other mum is blowing it out of all proportion

lulumama Wed 12-Sep-07 12:38:38

i think it is a very salutory lesson about resepct for other cultures and nationalities...

i presume the boys are 8 or 9, in which case, they are old enough to know , or start to learn about acceptance of other cultures, and that saying people of certain nationalities should leave.

i am sure he said it in the context of being appalled at what nazi germany did in teh second world war, but here is a great opportunity to see that germans are not all the same, and to learn about acceptance.

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:46:23

Well, I'm not going to make him apologise, as I genuinely believe that he didn't realise the effect it might have. I think he's learnt a lesson, and the teacher may have a little word with him today. I agree with DS saying something to the other boy along the lines of "I'm sorry if anything I said has caused upset." However, as for really aplogising, that's going to make him feel that he's done something really wrong, and I don't think he has. I don't know, we'll have to see where it goes from here. The main thing is that I don't know exactly what was said.

Perhaps the topic is a bad idea. DS doesn't know any German people and this has maybe given him a very one-sided view.

lulumama Wed 12-Sep-07 12:48:48

i think he should apologise, he might not have meant to do anything wrong, or hurt anyone, but the upshot is, he has. and for that he should apologise.
it is a hard situation , and everyone feels slighted, and two young boys are at the heart of it, but at the end of the day soemthing was said that was offensive to someone else.

potoroo Wed 12-Sep-07 12:50:26

If that is what your DS said, then it is very (not mildly) offensive HOWEVER I totally understand that he probably did not understand what he said - just reacting to the atrocities he had just learnt about (understandably!)

I think your initial analysis that he has said something without seeing how it could offend is exactly right. And I do think the other mum is over-reacting - I don't think calling you at home at tea time is appropriate.

However, the mother may have assumed that he picked up this attitude at home or that the school is teaching that all Germans are awful which may explain why she is very upset.

If the other mother does approach you, I think you could just explain what you have said here - that he was reacting to the lesson and you have talked to him etc etc.

AnnieBesant Wed 12-Sep-07 12:50:41

Gosh, I think he should apologise, if that is what he did say. I am trying to teach my ds that if you hurt someone, even if you did it unintentionally, then you apologise. Because the hurt is still there.

MummyPenguin Wed 12-Sep-07 12:51:10

We'll have to agree to disagree I think. I'll probably be a lot clearer about it today, as the teacher will probably want to see me having received my letter. I'll see what stance the teacher takes on it.

OrmIrian Wed 12-Sep-07 12:51:52

"if it was my child, the fact that he got upset and cried would suggest that he did have a fair idea that he shouldn't have said what he said "

I don't see how that follows at all. He could have said this in all innocence but now sees that everyone else thinks what he did was wrong and is going to be in trouble at school. Of course he would cry.

I feel sorry for him - I really do. How many of us have said things without thinking of the consequences - especially as a child. I think that if the mother wants to bring it home to him that he was wrong she should speak to him and explain, not humiliate him in school. It seems to me that she is bringing her opposition to the topic to this and it isn't fair on your DS.

minorityrules Wed 12-Sep-07 12:53:17

Even if he didn't mean any offence, he should apologise as someone took offence

It is a good lesson to learn that you can uset people without meaning too

He must have said something, as the family wouldn't be upset if he didn't

Just let him send a note, saying sorry if I upset you, I didn't mean to and didn't know what i said would cause upset

That way the family know it has been dealt with at home and your son is a nice boy after all

OrmIrian Wed 12-Sep-07 12:54:19

I totally agree that he should apologise btw. Even for inadvertent offence, it's always better to acknowledge and say sorry.

WorkersforfreEdam Wed 12-Sep-07 12:55:36

Blimey, even if it was unintentional on your ds's part, I think that was a very bad thing to say. And I can see why the Granny might have been upset - how do you know her father wasn't killed in the war, or her family sent to concentration camps (even if she isn't Jewish, lots of other people were imprisoned).

Think WW2 needs to be handled very sensitively.

AnnieBesant Wed 12-Sep-07 12:55:54

If he accidentally trod on someone's toe for example, would you expect him to say sorry?

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