Tables Turned

For a boy who whined and moaned all summer about not wanting to go to school, J seems to be really enjoying Senior Kindergarten. Anytime he is not busy he is asking me if it’s time for school, like at the supper table today.

“Mom, can I go to my school tomorrow?”

“No honey, tomorrow is Sunday”

“Ah, but I want to!” (complete with whiny voice and small fist hitting the table)

Imagine my surprise the other day when out of no where J insisted he wasn’t going to school anymore, tears welling up in his eyes. We sat and talked for a while, J finally confessing that there is a “crying boy” in his class who also hits him and takes his toys. He had mentioned the boy that cried before and I hadn’t thought much of it as his is a JK/SK mix so some of these children have never been away from their parents. The hitting was news to me though.

I asked him if he had told the teacher and he said yes. We started to talk more about it and he let it slip that the boy wouldn’t talk to him or look at him, he just cries and takes things. AHHHH, the light bulb starts to go off. I knew that C’s EA from last year was in the JK/SK room this year helping with some children who had transitioned from the early intervention program. The Prinicpal had also mentioned to me that it was a little “hectic” in the classroom as one child was really having a rough time adjusting. I am thinking this little boy has some delays (possibly Autism?) and he does not mean to hurt anyone. J and I talked about how the boy probably didn’t know how to be friends yet and that hopefully he will learn more about it while he is in the class. In the meantime, perhaps J could try to be friendly and share and ask the teachers for help of he needs it.

As I was talking to J, I didn’t realize C was also listening to our conversation – he piped in with “Yeah, J, he’s just like me when I was little. He has special needs and he takes longer to learn. He just needs people to be nice to him until he learns”. I was floored. I had no idea that C even realized he was like that in SK, where he spent the majority of his time roaming the room, taking toys, destroying work, hitting and resisiting anything to do with fine motor skills. What wonderful insight and empathy.

The next day I spoke with the Principal as J’s teacher was busy talking to the mom of the other boy. I didn’t want the mom to overhear and mistake my sharing with the Prinicpal as a damning of her son. It’s so strange having the tables turned and instead of my child being the “troubling” one, it was someone else’s. My heart goes out to that mom and her boy but I needed to let the principal know how troubled J was by the whole situation. I explained to her what I had said to J and told her I hoped I wasn’t “off” in my assessment of the situation. I know she can’t tell me specifics about another child (and I wouldn’t want her to) but I also didn’t want to be making excuses for a child only to find out he’s just a kid that likes to hit. At first I think the principal thought I was complaining about the child and she started to explain that he is non-verbal and is really struggling but that he has a special affinity for J. I stopped her and said I would be the LAST person to be mad about this little boy and his behaviour. I just wanted to make sure I was taking the right approach with J. She confirmed that I was and I just asked that anytime this little boy and J were “playing” together that extra be taken to ensure that J wasn’t getting hurt.

Since we had our talk J has not reported any more hitting incidents. He does say the boy cries a lot and it hurts his ears. We talk about what it must be like for him to not be able to use his words to talk to people and how to be friendly without getting hurt. I don’t want him to just sit there and let himself get hit but I also want my son to be someone who will reach out to a child like this. Like there was for C when he was younger. I’ve seen first hand what one or two kind children can do for a struggling child.

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