Shoved against a wall, by a man three times his size, defenceless, wordless and shaking with fear.
One day when J-man was in Grade One, not quite 7 seven yrs old, his regular teacher was away for the day. He had a substitute teacher that day, a well respected, old school guy with years of experience.
I was waiting for the home bell to sound, watching the class play a last minute game of scuttle-ball. As the bell sounded the teacher called the winning team (J-mans team) and sent the kids to collect their bags.
J-man was so excited by his teams victory, the excitement and hype of an energetic ball game and by the fact that a long school day was finally over.
I watched as he grabbed a small soft plastic witches hat and scuttled it sideways across about 4 metres.
I watched as his substitute teacher grabbed him up by his little polo shirt collar, and rammed him up against the brick wall of his classroom, screaming in his face.
"You are just a naughty, nasty, little boy"
"You are bad"
"I've had enough of you today".
The teacher, fully 3 times the size of my little guy, with a military style buzz-cut, red, angry face and fists clenched thrust J-man aside and stalked off to collect the other sports gear.
I was so stunned I didn't even absorb what I had seen.
I got his bag, and waited for the teacher, who addressed me with the same level of anger and scorn.
"Are you the mother? Did you see what he did? I should have known you'd take his side. He could have killed someone there !" (Yeah! with a soft plastic witches hat and all his 6 yr old strength!)
I took my little boy home, cried and wondered what to do next.
The next day I was at the school early to speak with the regular teacher. For some reason I still couldn't comprehend what I saw, what I heard.
I felt silly for making a fuss... (let me tell you now, if I saw that sort of shit now I would rip his lungs out before the witches hat fell to the ground, but I was young, scared and overwhelmed :-)
I told the teacher what had happened, what I'd witnessed, that my little boy had cried himself to sleep and wet his pants in fear that the 'angry yelling man' would be back again the next day.
I told her I didn't want to make trouble.
And she stopped me there.
She told me the most important thing anyone has ever told me. The most essential thing that I have clung to and held to my heart since that day.
Twenty years from now, these teachers, this principal, will not remember your name.
But you will always know, forever, that you stepped up and advocated for your child.
From a truly awful experience came the most important words.
If you have a child, special needs or not, there will be moments where you are called to step up and make a fuss, or to be quiet and tell your child it is okay to be treated in such a way.
Have you hit that point in your parenting when you have had to choose to make a fuss?