Professional blogging tips always include a Content Calendar Planner and I keep planning on creating one, but it seems life provides plenty of things to write about each week so I will just share with you our latest ordeal with school from this week.
The ordeal started last Friday, just as I was writing my post on My Child Might Look Normal, But…, but I didn’t realise it until much later. I will write it in chronological order to help you see how a ‘simple’ issue can all too fast develop into a massive problem and it can ripple through all walks of life and can linger for days for adopted children.
On Fridays my husband picks up the boys – every Friday. Snoops (7) was in a terrible mood when they arrived home. I was wondering if he had a bad day or if it was something that happened on the way home – it’s a big difference in terms of after effects, though for him every issue constitutes to End-Of-The-World disaster that justifies a massive meltdown! Upon asking he confirmed that he lost all golden time today (special play time they earn each day), he didn’t say why or what had happened. He refused to do anything we asked him to do (like take off your shoes or go wash your hands) and put up fights for everything. There is only that much Therapeutic Parenting one do within 1 hour so as a natural consequence I told him he just lost 5 minutes of his evening playtime.
Usually this is bad enough for him to stop whatever he is doing, but not on Friday. His behaviour and defiance got a lot worse, he was throwing things, destroying furniture so again, as a natural consequence he was told he lost the chance to watch a movie in the evening – this has only happened a few times over the last year; Friday family movie nights are a Thing in our house!
Behaviour not improving, just the opposite! He got very violent so in order to keep ourselves safe we had to take him to his bedroom and close the door. Inside he started to trash his bedroom and I was very worried that he would hurt himself so I went in and grabbed him in a super tight bear hug (meaning he was unable to move).
A call from School
In the very moment my phone rang; it was School, but I was too busy fighting him so I couldn’t take the call. I hoped they would leave a voice message that I can listen to later…
About an hour later Snoops stopped his destructive behaviour, he was still very agitated, but at least I could loosen my grip around him. I picked up my phone and listened to the message:
‘Hello, I am Snoops’ teacher. I didn’t see you and didn’t recognise your husband so I said nothing to him. I wanted to tell you that Snoops was disruptive all day today, after several warnings he started throwing chairs in class so I sent him out of class to calm down, but he kept trying to come in so I put my foot at the door to block him, there was a struggle, I clipped his finger into the door frame, but he is fine.’
So, before we continue, lets just digest this message for a minute
- From this message it doesn’t sound like the teacher tried to help him at all! I do not know WHY was he disruptive, what had set him off, if it was his own fault because he was daydreaming and therefore missed the instructions, or somebody said something to him, or he just didn’t want to do the work, or he became anxious about something… SO many things can (and usually does) go wrong with him every day!
- Ok, fair enough, throwing chairs is NOT OK! But, children don’t just start throwing chairs for no reasons!
- Although I appreciate that she gave him several warnings, but sending him out of the classroom ALONE is a really bad idea! For once, being alone is the worst thing that can happen to him, he already feels alone, isolated, rejected. TIME OUT DOESN’T WORK FOR LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN. End of! Time IN is the way to help him!
- Not to mention her idea of ‘calm down’. Have you ever met a person who was very agitated, brain in a Fight Mode, but when he heard the word ‘calm down’ they thought ‘Ok, good idea. Boom. I am calm.’ Yeah, me neither…
- She was blocking the door with her foot to stop my son from entering the classroom! It really bugs me, because I have spoken to her several times about this and explained why this approach does NOT work, yet, she keeps doing it!
- I appreciate she has 20+ other children to worry about, but then what on earth the TA is doing??? It is in my boys’ PEP (Personal Education Plan) that he shouldn’t be left alone, especially when he has a meltdown! Once his brain is in that ‘foggy mode‘ as he likes to call it, there is no room left for clear processing, he can’t think straight, he doesn’t hear words, logic, what is logic?, he just keeps repeating the last coherent thought in his head! In this case it was ‘I want to go in!’ So, naturally he kept trying to get back into class! Of course there was a struggle…
- I clipped his finger… FFS, how can she just mention it so casually? While it would be a very unpleasant experience for ANY NORMAL child and while I appreciate the fact that it was an accident (I have to believe that she didn’t intentionally wanted to hurt him), for Snoops it was so much more! It was a confirmation in his mind that grown ups do hurt children! It was a shock to realise his beloved teacher is not safe to be around! It brought back memories of his own abuse! (we can’t know for sure, but he had dropped some hints before about his first parents hurting him in similar ways)
- And my ‘favourite’ part: but he is fine! No miss, he is anything, but fine! He might present as fine, but I can assure you HE IS NOT FINE!
Back to the story
At least now we know why he was so cross. When I asked him about the incident, Snoops kept on lying to us; said he didn’t do any chair throwing so according to our house rules, he lost all his playtime for that night. Naturally he unleashed on us so, again, to keep ourselves safe, we put him to his room. As you can imagine, he was screaming for about an hour, incoherent screams and shouting filled our house…
When the turn happens
My husband and I were sitting outside his door waiting for what comes next. Eventually his screams started to include words and it began to make sense. I don’t think he knew we were right outside, so he was clearly not talking to us! I think he was just processing his thoughts out loud. First he said to himself ‘Snoops, you are not safe here, everybody hurts you‘, but then he started saying he loves it here, I am his ‘bestest mummy ever and even daddy is really the best I ever had’ and he is happy here and he knows his behaviour was bad, he needs to apologise, ‘but I can’t go out, I need to wait till the morning, I wish I could go out to say how sorry I am...’
It was incredibly sad, but also fascinating to hear his monologue. I really wanted to go in to reassure him, but my husband suggested we wait. After 20 min of hesitation, of touching the door handle, but not having enough courage to press it down, he took the plunge and came out! Right away I pulled him into a big hug and he pretty much said the same things to me.
I kept on reassuring him he is safe, we love him, he is not going anywhere and eventually he stopped sobbing. He was still sad that he missed the movie and snacks, but he understood that it was fair and didn’t fight it. I took him back to bed. We expected a difficult night, but strangely it never came. He slept through the night and to our utmost surprise he didn’t wet the bed that night!
Sadly though the ripples carried over to Saturday where we had a very rubbish morning with very similar moments like a day before. Sunday was slightly better, but he was anxious about going to school on Monday. I wasn’t surprised! First thing in the morning I called school and had a word with the Head. She promised to investigate. When I picked them up on Monday afternoon the first thing his teacher told me was ‘he had a really bad day‘. ‘I am not surprised! He is still not fine and he doesn’t feel safe with you any more!‘ She didn’t take it well, got upset and told me I have to discuss it with the Head. I assured her I will.
Long story short, it took him 6 days to get back to ‘normal and yesterday was his first day when he had an OK day. And it all happened because he didn’t finish a sentence in class…