I’ve just ordered my copy of ‘but did you die’ hoping to emerge myself in sarcasm and surround myself with reassurance that other parents are just winging it.
Today, a Monday, a back to school after a very long weekend kind of day. It’s a work day and happens to be the day before daddybears bday. I’m behind on purchasing presents as I had the hump and refused to buy him presents whilst I was fuming at him. I’m behind on my work admin because I had to dash off from work to ensure I had suitable gifts wrapped from his precious babybears. On arriving home it turned into one of those ‘can you frickin believe it’ days. Three phone calls cemented that fate. The first a 27minute on hold kind of call to the council to be told the same bollocks I was told a month previous…that nobody had looked at the paperwork yet. The delightful lady today chortled that a disability reduction to the council tax doesn’t even make that much difference so i needn’t get too stressed. She’s not been waiting for 3 months nor is she getting by without carers allowance or amended tax credits since having to halve her salary to care for her child but hey…lets not get stressed. While I’m on hold with this call pda’er babybear returns home in his taxi and stomping through the door shouts “is that school on the phone?” In his rather gruff mood I clock that he’s anticipating school will want to speak to me. I get the briefest of moments after my council tax call to find out his perspective on his day before the teacher calls. His version is often short but normally accurate. “I’m bruised” he says, showing me his hand. “I got it hitting Tyler “. What he neglected to tell me was that there were 4 members of staff attempting to prevent this occurring, one of which received a flying kick to her stomach and it was this that today the head teacher would be excluding him for. The teacher went on to explain he’d had a pretty vile day with lots of foul language. Mummagrizzlybear is listening intently to the teachers account of the events; numb, sad and a tad embarrassed . There is little one can say. He is already in an alternative provision due to his outbursts in mainstream. The staff here get him and won’t hold it against him. They even explain that they don’t think he can help it and didn’t feel he’d even remember hurting the member of staff as it had been in rage and in her words “he’d lost it” when it was happening. Nevertheless, PDA or not, this was not how I envisaged parenting. I know how to raise decent kids. My kids know that it’s not acceptable to treat anybody this way. I’m riddled with the niggling automatic thoughts that this teacher, like so many professionals before her, somehow suspects that this is learned behaviour. I ask her advice on how the school would like this handled. Should I be cross? Or sympathetic? Why do I even feel both conflicting feelings at once? Excluding him as a consequence for his actions is understandable but when everyone involved agrees that these sorts of behaviours may be out of his control, I become fearful about the future. He knows right from wrong. In fact he’s the rule master of others but in the heat of the moment he fails to apply rules or reason to himself. He feels justified in his actions. After all, the other kid antogonised him by spitting at him. As ever babybear was simply taking matters into his own hands.
The call ends and I call babybear to me. He knows what I’m gonna say. He becomes distressed instantaneously and retreats outdoors, picking up a rock to launch at me and coupling it with a beautifully loud and clear “f*ck off” for all the neighbours to hear. He’s for once furious that he will have to miss tomorrow’s outing with school and I realise that just maybe on this occasion the consequence will have some impact. For the rock and cursing I’m determined he will spend some time out in his room (I’m more fuming that he dared to speak to me this way than i am that hes excluded). Ripping up any paperwork nearby and a convenient stash of cardboard he eventually takes his strop to his room and sussing out that he will not get my attention (no matter how destructive he becomes) he complies and lays on his giant beanbag to ‘calm’…. queue the phone ringing!
Call number 3 would you believe it was bigger bruv bears school reporting he’d been in a fight. Ffs! It transpires he has been considered as the one on the defensive side and not at fault but nevertheless he’s had a punch to the face. Once again im a bit numb. Questioning where I’m going wrong? Why have I got the kids who are getting into mischief? Have I cocked up? I can’t help but wonder whether he was the antagonist or whether it was a proper punch?! What kind of grizzly mumma thinks that?! I’m not always the best with sympathy. The ‘did you die’ approach probably best sums up my nurturing level at times and I’ve been known to mutter “that’ll learn ya” when I see them fall where I’d told them to stop etc! Some of this I’m told is normal parenting of boys. Indeed daddybears attitude to most scrapes is ‘well they’re boys’. But they are my boys too and my aspirations were for them to grow into decent young men.
Amidst all of this I’m reflecting. Searching for the positivity that will save my self worth and morale. I’ve spent all my work day delivering a session on core beliefs and self esteem to a vulnerable client group. The upside of this work is that i’m regularly in a position where I can help others pull a positive out of an otherwise shit situation. On the whole, I can usually apply this to myself too.
Today’s positives seem to be that babybear seemed bothered by an exclusion and although distressed he actually complied and used his safe space to calm. He also went on to have a reasonable conversation with me about alternatives ways to manage his anger and wrote a very short sorry note to the teacher he’d hurt. Bigger bruv came out of school seemingly unphased and spoke very maturely about the lad who had hit him. The birthday presents are wrapped and we’ve sorted childcare for the excluded toad tomorrow. Daddybear is in the garden erecting the climbing frame he’s not been available to build for weeks because of work.
That said, no amount of optimism, positive self talk or frickin fantastic self esteem will save any of us from the onslaught of testing children. PDA’er is currently on round 3 of trashing his room post bedtime routine because he’s ‘too hot’ and seems determined to jump on my very last nerve. Bigger bruv is tucked up in bed with a growl and a snarl owing to his utter cheek and disrespectful behaviour towards me.
In the mirror I look calm. Inside I feel irritable but its like my body no longer knows a useful way to display it. Perhaps it came out in my parenting fails at bedtime. Perhaps I was sent a shitty bedtime with each of them to afford me the chance to vent how fed up I am that they’ve let me down. It’s not everyday, but set-backs really throw me. You have to work ruddy hard to compose yourself again and bounce back. But I will. Even when I’ve had my blips and not handled things the way I’d like. Every now and again humour will help. Some days if i didn’t laugh, i’d crack up.
We will survive this exclusion and use the experience as an opportunity to talk and learn with our little PDA’er.
We will support bigger bruv to ensure he knows we are proud of him for not retaliating at school.
It’s now half bloody 9 at night and I’ve blogged instead of getting my neglected work admin done… duty calls…. or is it the new Amazon purchase?! Queen of procrastination during stressful times!
Some days are sent to test us… but i didn’t die!