When my son first started kindergarten, I was happy as a clam, dreaming of what I would do with all that free time. At the same time, I was a little adrift – he was without me by his side to navigate the world. He’s a real social creature and thrives on playing with his buddies, in his mind, there is no prejudice, people are different by virtue of basic physical characteristics and that’s pretty much it. Innocence. I love that about kids before us adults mess them up.
There are two special needs children in his class, one a little boy who seems to have problems with self control and boundaries. He’s a nice, innocent child, but he’s a hitter. Of course, the first few weeks of , my son is telling me that this child is hitting him or scratching him. He’s upset about it but at the same time he likes him and plays with him, and it’s not just him, it’s other kids so it’s a random thing. I watch the kids carefully as they play in kindergarten play area after school. I see this boy’s mum watching her son intently and she has to run up to him several times and correct his behaviour or pull him away from someone. She makes him apologize to someone and then its play time again. Once, he even hit me cause I didn’t have time to take my son over for a playdate. I finally arranged a play date because both boys wanted it so much. I admit it, I was quite hesitant, but I thought I would give it a shot and I would stay and try to get to know the mum better. Everything went really well, in fact, in a quiet setting, we didn’t hear a peep out of them. The mum didn’t say too much, we just talked about the usual kid things. They played nicely together and we even made a Christmas craft. I have seen him at kids parties and his mum is always there because he gets easily overwhelmed by noise and yelling and can get out of control physically or start crying. At the playground, I have seen this child throw rocks and pinecones at older children’s privates, flail and hit other kids and though his mum is always there after that fact, she does zone out every now and then and miss it. I don’t blame her really. Lately, he was hitting another little boy, and I talk to this child’s mum quite a bit. She was very upset and asked me what I thought I should do. I suggested talking to his mum or speaking to the teachers. She is of the opinion that at least out of school, the mum should prevent these incidents from happening even if it requires her to stick to his side. It’s not like the mum is neglectful, she’s always right there and takes excellent care of her child. It’s just that “letting the boys sort it out” thing is not working. My friend has moved her child away to the other side of the school to play because she has an infant and she was watching another kid and just didn’t want to be aggravated.
Now, lately I’ve been hearing that child’s name again and just yesterday, the teacher told me my son hit his head on the cement wall just moments before I arrived. My son told me how exactly it happened and this kid was swinging his backpack and that’s how it happened. Two weeks ago, this kid punched my son and that I actually saw that. The grownups intervened and he explained that they were seeing how strong they were. My son was hurt though. There are always apologies and my son doesn’t hold grudges but these incidents happen over and over again. We left, my son crying and for the next two days when I saw this child running around (and I found out he’s taking taekwondo now by the way), we made an early exit.
So I went and spoke with his teacher and the special needs assistant about the incident just after dismissal and before I picked him up. I was a little peeved. One teacher said that the child’s movements were just so exuberant and he’s not really seeing what he’s doing. I get that. It’s obvious. He’s a sweet kid and it’s apparent he’s not malicious. I told them that though he apologizes and gets a time out, it keeps happening, so it’s a comprehension issue that they can’t control. I don’t even know all the facts. What I do know is that the two little boys that pushed him back, this child doesn’t bother anymore. And one boy is even protecting others from him. They all play together but at times it’s problematic because little boys are always very physical in their play and if they’re not running into stuff or jumping off the slide, they’re play fighting. It’s often hard to distinguish the difference but they’re learning about controlling themselves.
I have told my son that the first time someone shoves him or hits him to use his words to stop it. Then if they don’t stop, go to the teacher and if it still persists, he has my full permission to hit the kid back. My kid is such a peaceful kid and he doesn’t want to get into trouble but I can’t be there every time for him. I made all this perfectly clear to the teachers. So they just said why not speak to the mum. Oh, I will, don’t worry about that. I have my 1, 2, 3 rule for that as well.
*****By the way, strike 3 happened today after I wrote this post. I’m having a little chat with the child’s mum today.