I don’t know if it’s just our particular class, or the fact that BC schools have moved to all-day Kindergarten, or that our little man is a bit younger socially than kids his age, but his first 100 days of school have pretty much bit the big one. This is part of the reason that I didn’t blog for so long – you might notice the “hiatus” began after September 1st.
I have never felt more like a mom than I have this past three months. Obviously I’ve always been a mom and love my kids unconditionally, but as I phrased it when telling a friend about our situation, “This shit just got real.”
They must celebrate the 100 day mark for a reason, as if everything magically improves at that point. I am hoping so. I know that it’s an adjustment for all the kids, especially now that they’re there even longer, but our little guy has been through hell. He’s really quiet around other kids, has a VERY vivid imagination to the point that he gets lost in his own make believe worlds, and he doesn’t like unpredictable movement in his immediate vicinity – think dogs, small children, etc. He quite often raises his hands in front of him if anything gets too close.
We started getting reports every day that he was pushing other kids, kicking, hitting, saying bad words…every parent’s nightmare. We talked to him about it but he could never really explain what was happening. He would tell us that other kids were hitting him, but he would never tell the teacher or the playground monitors when it happened.
It all came to a head in November, and I just happened to have a week off. I was volunteering in his class and had the opportunity to observe some of the behaviour. Kids were running up to him, telling him to say bad words and then telling on him. They were rushing him and hitting him, and then telling on him if he put his arms up to protect himself. Yes, he sometimes hit back, he sometimes pushed kids out of the way, but it was clear he was being targeted and baited. He’d been identified as different and was paying the price.
Mr. Awesome volunteered one day and witnessed a boy go up to our little man, who was playing quietly by himself, and kick him in the chest. This same boy was the centre of various reports we heard, knocking kids down, sitting on their chests, choking people…but he never seemed to be the focus of any discipline. No one ever reported it as it happened. And it seemed that his behaviour was serving as a model for all the other kids. Soon EVERYONE was hitting, kicking, punching…it was completely toxic. I knew we would face bullying at some point in our kids’ school careers, but in KINDERGARTEN?!
It’s not helped by the fact that 14 out of the 22 kids in the class are boys and they are very rambunctious. With a pretty much unsupervised breaks at lunch and recess, these kids are running around going nuts and having no idea what their boundaries are.
I started to get serious anxiety, as I was at a complete loss for what to do. Did we change classes, schools, consider home schooling? I was looking at any and every option as nothing seemed to be getting better. But we really like his teacher and he was doing well “academically,” if you can call it that at the age of five.
Finally the school started to take some action. The behavioural consultant started paying better attention to the actual behaviour, instead of just listening to the reports of the monitors. They had a meeting of the resources team to see what could be done. Finally they were addressing the problem. We are very present in the classroom through volunteering, and one of us is always right there at pick up and drop off to check on how the day went.
The Christmas break seems to have made a difference, and all the kids seem to have calmed down a bit. There are always reports of someone doing something to someone else, but it no longer seems to be ALL about our little man. We’re still working on getting him to say something when someone does something to him, to use his “big voice” and ask them to stop, to move away, to tell a teacher, but that kind of response isn’t his first instinct. In fact he quite often smiles when he’s uncomfortable so someone that doesn’t know him well would think he’s fine or enjoying himself. Only we seem to know better.
I hesitated blogging about it as the situation is still fairly unresolved but, as I usually discover through blogging, we can’t be the only family going through this. And no one seems to talk about it, so here I am. Talking about it.
We’re quickly approaching the 100 day mark. We will see how things go, and just love him, support him and teach him the best ways we know how and hope it all gets better with time.