One of my biggest fears with Max starting big school is that he would act out and hit other children. As I have said before, being the mom of the child who has been hit or hurt is hard. Being the mom of the child who hits or hurt is even harder. It is mortifying. You feel terrible for the other child, for that child's parents, for the teacher and for your own child. It is not a pleasant experience at all. Last year I had to send at least two letters to other parents to apologize for my child hurting theirs. Well, I didn't *have* to, but I felt compelled to. I felt terrible.
Thankfully, so far, Max has not hit or hurt anyone at school. A combination of a quieter environment (which helps with his sensory overload) and firm rules, plus a more mature child and better verbal skills have meant that Max is hopefully learning to count to 10 and react verbally instead of physically. I know it is still early days but so far so good.
And so when I went to fetch Max on Tuesday, and the teacher called me aside to say that there had been an "incident", my heart sank. Oh no, I thought, here we go. But it wasn't what I thought. She said Max was upset at break time because someone had hit him in the face. The kids were playing in "McDonalds" (a jungle gym like the one they have at McDonalds - with multi coloured plastic tubes to climb in) and someone must have hit him while they were in there. The teachers are in the play ground but they can't see into the tubes. Max came crying to the teacher to say that someone had hit him. She asked him to point out who had done it, but he didn't want to go back to the jungle gym to show her.
He was totally fine when I came to fetch him (he is a very tough cookie), but he did tell me that he cried at school. Poor thing. I bent down to give him a hug and noticed a mark on his cheek. "Did someone bite you Max?" I asked. Yes he said. The teacher obviously misunderstood "someone hit me" for "someone bit me". Poor thing! The teacher was mortified that it had happened.
I am ashamed to say my first reaction was "thank god it wasn't him doing the biting!". Max was fine and I thought to myself there was obviously an altercation in the jungle gym, where he might or might not have been partially to blame, and another child bit him. Happens. He was fine.
(Pretend you don't see the thing in his mouth. Don't judge. He needed the soothing)
The rest of the week was great.
On Friday I went to fetch him and the teacher said she needed to talk to me. Oh no! The moment I was dreading. Max had done something. But no, he hadn't done anything. Someone had bitten him again, on the other side of the face, and this time they knew who it was. It was the same child as before. Happened in the same jungle gym. Apparently the child has issues and is even more speech delayed than Max.
I am very pleased to say that apparently Max didn't react negatively at all, or try to retaliate! He cried and went to tell the teacher. Phew! After the initial relief I had a brief moment of panic because I knew Rose and Marko were going to freak out. They are not as understanding as I am. Rose wants to race over to the school and have a word with the other boy and Marko wants to know "what is the school doing about it!".
It is not acceptable to bite, and obviously I don't want my child to be hurt (I worry that because he is fairly speech delayed he might be the victim of bullying as he can't properly speak up for himself), but being on the other side of the equation, having experience of being the mother of the culprit, I am not angry, at anyone. Not the little boy, his parents, the school. It is impossible for the teachers to be everywhere at once (or see through plastic jungle gyms), and I feel sorry for the little boy and for his parents. It is so hard being the parent of the child who hurts others. And obviously the little boy is frustrated. The school will address the problem with the boy's parents and action will be taken to help the little boy and to prevent it from happening again.
(And of course, the other worry is that he is going to think that biting / fighting is what happens in the playground and I am SO keen that we keep up the good work that we have done so far this year - I do NOT want him to get into a situation where he has to / is tempted to hit.)
I was so worried about Max hurting other children that I didn't for a moment think he would be the one to get hurt! Luckily he is a tough cookie who doesn't stay upset or cross. He is fine.
This parenting thing sure ain't easy.