A bump in the road?

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Today was not a good day. 

M got into a fight with another child at daycare today.  Apparently, it was unprovoked and M hit the other child several times in the face.  M’s story is different – he accidentally bumped into the boy while playing a game and the other child responded by pushing him and bending his fingers back. It is hard to know what really happened. But as far as the daycare is concerned, M’s is the one whose behaviour is the problem.  

All this stems from the incident a few weeks ago when M used a racial insult in a moment of anger with a group of boys. One of the boys is very hurt and refuses to talk to M, even to let him apologize. For his part, M has not handled the situation well – he continues to follow the other boy around and call him names. He may say he’s sorry, but from the other child’s perspective, M doesn’t seem like he is. He is certainly not walking the talk.

As we explained to the program coordinator and the head councilor today, M is clearly stressed and anxious about this situation.  It doesn’t justify what he is doing, but this has been his pattern for the last several years – M gets anxious about something and starts lashing out.  The program wanted to suspend M but I suggested to them that based on our experiences with the school, this would only add to his anxiety.

In the end, we agreed that M would not be permitted to play active games inside or outside for a couple of weeks. March Break is coming and that may be enough of a break for all the kids.  We have suggested to M that instead of trying to verbally apologize to the child who isn’t speaking to him, he write him a note. M also admitted to us later that he hadn’t eaten his bagel today.  we know from experience that the days when he has the most trouble with other children are the days when he hasn’t eaten his lunch.  So we also suggested that one of the staff check in with him when he arrives to ensure he eats.  We will be reminding him every morning.

I am trying very hard not to be discouraged about the situation.  I told the daycare staff that it was a bump in the road; we had encountered similar hurdles in the past and gotten over them.  But I am not sure I even believe myself.  What if M can’t pull himself together and gets suspended from the program or worse, asked to leave?  I know I am getting ahead of myself, but I certainly got the sense from the program coordinator today that M was on pretty thin ice with the daycare. 

Part of me wonders why my kid can’t do more to help himself.  We have explained to him over and over that he crossed a major line and he can’t force these boys to forgive him.  That he should just leave the boy who is still angry at him alone.  Find another group of kids to hang around with at the daycare. But he is his own worst enemy.  

So at the moment, I am feeling helpless and anxious.  It doesn’t help that I had a multiple migraines in the last few days and feel physically worn out.  I want to crawl back into bed and eat potato chips – not the most mature response.  Rationally, I know we will get through this.  Despite the program coordinator’s view if his recent behaviour, M has gone through much worse.  Emotionally,  however, it is another story.  I know we are doing all the right things for M:  medication, therapy, advocating for him.  But right now, it doesn’t seem like it is making much of a difference.

I know that i will feel better tomorrow morning.  I also know that M is basically a good kid – his aggression comes from fear and anxiety, not an inherent character flaw. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching the phone every afternoon for the next 2 weeks, just in case the daycare calls.

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