Friday, April 6, 2018

Children will be children, right?

I'm back! can you believe this? It's only been a few weeks!

So I want to talk about Oliver and school. I said everything was well but in fact two days later or so I got a call from the school that the school principle wanted to have a meeting with us about Oliver's behaviour.

Background: when we moved here, Oliver started after the summer in year 1 (which is the second year in school in the british system). He had done the foundation year back in Dublin and we never had so much as problem, he was the perfect child, very well behaved (not so much at home at that time but in school he was an angel), the most the teacher ever said to us was that Oliver should try and not to intervene if two children are arguing (to help settle the argument) and call an adult instead. I thought that was pretty amazing as a complaint actually...that's my boy I was thinking.
Anyway we move here and Oliver joins a class of children who have all known each other for at least a year, some of them two years. Unfortunately the teacher in charge of his class was completely incapable of dealing with young children (she always taught older children). Within 3 weeks we knew he was not happy, his behaviour at home had changed, never seemed to play with anyone, nobody was including him in their games, and his break time were spent climbing up metal structures....alone. He had abs that would have made a professional athlete envious. We of course immediately mentioned this to the teacher, that we were concerned he had not settled and children were not really helping. She said she will keep an eye on it. Three more weeks and the situation got only worse. At that point Oliver started becoming "that child" in school, the one that pushes you in the line, that throws something at you, that kicks another boy for looking at him the wrong way...come on...I'm no expert but to me this is a clear sign that he is tired of being lonely and is trying to get any sort of attention the wrong way. We started getting reports from school that Oliver did this and said that, I'm not exaggerating...probably weekly if not more frequent.

By Christmas the situation had escalated, despite us talking to the teacher again, there was no action on her part, I was devastated. Oliver started wetting the bed again, acting out at home again, everyone was miserable. I posted on a local facebook page for advice and I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the community. Many people had of course children in the same school, they organised play dates and birthday invitations, we started to see some light. But in school they had at that point initiated this behavioural chart: every day Oliver was assessed for his behaviour EVERY HOUR, with a sad/neutra/happy face. The stress of it all was unreal. We had taken him to the doctor, in case this was a sign of something more sinister, but no, the doctor thought he was absolutely a normal child. Thankfully the teacher changed and the new one was a life saver. She understood Oliver, established a good relationship, and by then Oliver had a few friends in the class. Mostly girls.

A few reports still arrived but of a different nature: we were told a couple of times that Oliver was "touching girls inappropriately" that he tried "to kiss a girl" etc. When Oliver was questioned on this he would say that they were playing a game of catch and that he had tapped a girl on the bottom, and the kissing yes she was her friend, in fact this girl was saying she was his girlfriend (at the age of 6), was kissing a girl on the cheek forbidden? Girls seemed to be doing this the whole time and nobody ever made a big deal. We talked to him, explained these are the rules in school etc.

Summer came, we thought we had moved on from all of this. Back to school in september, all is good, he is still playing only with a few girls because the Alpha-male in the class does not let him in his circle of friends but he is ok with this. He plays these games with the girls like mom and dad and children and cousins and even though it seems a bit odd we  don't say anything. After January reports start again: Oliver tried to kiss a girl (the same), Oliver was lifting a girl's clothes (same girl), Oliver tried to go in the bathroom with a girl (same girl), Oliver called a girl "big bum" (the girl didn't hear but apparently that is not important and still this is reported). We are also informed that there is now a file on Oliver in school, with all the things he said and did "wrong" since he joined the school. We are told by the good teacher that he is a lovely child in class, that she thinks he has a target on his back and people are just waiting for him to do something wrong to report it. The teacher also said that some of the girls seem to use a language which is inappropriate (one girl was seen bumping against Oliver and apparently said "oh I might be pregnant now"...thank god it wasn't Oliver who said this).

But then a big incident happened. I tell you how we were told and also will tell you that Oliver has quite a different version of how things went. We got a call that Oliver had threatened to bite a girl on her nipples and privates. This was reported to the school as an official complaint from upstanding parents (though we don't officially know this but we had very little doubt about who would go to the school rather than picking up the phone and call us) and there had to be an investigation. Where is "Oliver getting this language from?" I don't know, I speak to him only in Italian but I'm sure you can imagine Mike shouting these things at all hours, it must be it (FFS). We had a meeting with the school where we described all the events the way we lived them since joining the school. We said we have never had a problem till joining this school and we felt the school did very little to help Oliver actually. And now here we are, with a folder on him, a very distressing situation and no idea how to get out of it. On one thing we all agree: if there are rules they have to be respected and Oliver has a serious problem with this. There will be a visit with a social worker next week, I think the plan is to have something in place for us and the school to make sure this is resolved.

We already spoke with the social worker, we told her that at home the children have no access to internet at all, and they watch television only supervised (movies or cartoons from netflix which are age appropriate) and that we have no idea why he is acting this way in school. We are quite confident that Oliver just thinks that boobs and bums are funny, and says things to make someone laugh, only does not realise that children are reporting these things to the teachers and this is noted down. We have no problem with nudity at home (children shower with us regularly), we have the rule of not touching and that what is private is private. But this has gone unreal really.

I will update next week after the visit with the social worker.

4 comments:

  1. Holy shit Fran, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Stressful is an understatement! Is this a private school? Is switching schools an option? I think he needs a fresh start somewhere else. It must feel like you don’t have anyone on your side. Especially if his story is so different from theirs. 🙁 Hugs to you.

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    1. I know right?? this is a public school (virtually all primary schools here are public). Yes we absolutely thought about changing school or even class at least, but Oliver does not like changes even if they are for the better, of course all he sees are that this three friends at least he knows...even if they put him in trouble the whole time...even if they are not really his friends unless he plays the games they say to play... it's absolutely heartbreaking. There are two other girls in this group who are lovely and in fact the parents of one of them (who know what is happening) today tolda us that their daughter was very clear that the language is coming from another girl and not Oliver, and that Oliver is often blamed for things he doesn't actually do. They will talk to the school principle as soon as school is back on (we are on spring break at the moment). I'm hopeful they school will see things for what they are soon. Hugs to you my friend.

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    2. Ugh. I’m so frustrated for you and Oliver. It breaks my heart when I see my kids struggle with friend/classmate issues. 😥 And this feels like an Oliver pile-on my the school. Wrong on so many levels.

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