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Kate did not go to school on Friday.

She got up complaining of a stomach ache and a headache. While she felt somewhat warm to the touch, the ear thermometer showed her temperature was normal.

She broke down. “No! That just shows that my ears are normal! Maybe it needs new batteries!”

Now, mornings are already trying times in my household. We don’t do them well. With the #bathroomredo it’s a touch more chaotic, what with me running across the yard and all.

So: Friday. Kate is physically refusing to move. She is buried under her blanket, curled in a ball. She will not get dressed, and we lack the strength and the fortitude and *time* to pry her apart and get her out the door. We suspect we are being played (no temperature), but can’t be sure (she really does look bad, bags under eyes and all) and WE HAVE TO GO.

Fine. She’s off to Bella and Tadone’s. I’m off with Flora; Dan is off with Michael. I check in a couple of times throughout the day. She’s fine. She’s eating fine (and she PIGGED OUT at dinner), she isn’t warm, etc. etc.

I’m somewhat preoccupied with this situation on Friday. This is the second time of note that Kate has pleaded sick in the morning without actually being sick. The first time was because her class had a Thanksgiving program the day before Thanksgiving (that I didn’t even know about), and she was nervous.

So I suspect that something is happening at school.

And then I remember what she told me when I picked her up on Thursday. In short, a classmate of hers (whom she has complained about before) was all up in her face all day AND said classmate had pulled Kate’s jumper over her head. When I asked if she had told the teacher, she said she hadn’t because when she said she was going to CLASSMATE CRIED. And she felt bad Classmate was crying. So she didn’t tell the teacher.

I told Kate that the reason Classmate cried was because she knew that she was going to suffer the consequences of her actions. She knew she was doing something wrong, and that she was going to get in trouble if Kate told on her, and so she cried.

And Kate fell for it. (Empathy can suck it.)

Ironically, of course, Classmate harasses Kate the way Kate harasses other people (especially, let’s see, FLORA). Classmate wants to play all the time, Classmate gets too close to Kate, Classmate touches Kate A LOT, Classmate won’t accept it when Kate asks to be left alone, or play with someone else, Classmate gets very upset. The jumper incident is kind of an escalation.

I would prefer it not escalate further. Obviously.

I talked to Dan about it, and Dan and I talked to Kate about it, and I nailed it (Kate was “sick” because she doesn’t want to deal with Classmate), and we basically said she can’t pretend to be sick when she doesn’t want to go to school.

Here’s my pickle: Even though I am a bad helicopter, and part of me thinks that Kate and Classmate are going to have to work this out (and Kate is going to have to tell the teacher about Classmate if/when she is giving Kate problems, which happens a couple of times a week), let’s face it:

THIS IS MY BABY DUCKLING. I WANT TO GO ALL MAMA BEAR ON THIS CLASSMATE. I AM MIXING MY PARENTING METAPHORS HERE.

Should I go talk to the teacher? What should I say? Should I maybe call Classmate’s mom? We have chatted at school events. I also happen to know that Classmate’s parents are engaged in custody warfare over Classmate, so I’m guessing some of her issues come from her home lives. (It’s messy, people. MESSY.)

Or do I give Kate the tools she needs to deal with Classmate on almost-6-year-old terms?

What are those tools?

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