On Saturday morning Daniel and the Sussies hopped into our bed and the 5 of us had a snuggle. Just as we all settle in he pipes up:
‘Did you know, I have a secret hiding place during break time at school’
Etienne and I were shocked. This was our chance to get to the bottom of why he slept in our room for almost 4 months, from right after school started this year.
We managed to extract names of who he hides from, who he hides with and, most importantly WHY.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL.
Why, you may ask?
For 4 months of this year we have seen our vivacious son go from sad to mad. His anxiety was like the big old elephant lurking in the room. He didn’t want to go to school. He didn’t want to leave our sides. It was the single most soul-destroying thing we’ve had to deal with since we became parents.
We got help in the form of a very switched on OT and a play-therapist that have slowly but surely brought him out of his shell. He blocked them, he blocked us. He wouldn’t open up at all.
This morning we pitched up at school and refused to leave until we spoke to someone. There was NO way we were going to let him hide for another minute of his precious break time.
Will it happen again? Probably. The world is filled with bullies. I just hope that, along the way, he now has the skills to deal with them and realise that being bullied is not about you, it’s about the other person being a doos. (Yes, still my favourite word)
Here’s what I learnt:
1. Never, and I mean NEVER, show your child that you’re upset. Play it cool, ask questions. Do not, I repeat DO NOT freak out.
2. Create a space for them to talk. Whether it’s lying in bed just before they go to sleep or a casual conversation in the car.
3. Get the facts. Don’t listen to secondhand stories and do not jump to conclusions. This harms not only your child, but potentially other children as well.
4. You are not a drama queen. If you’re child’s behaviour suddenly changes don’t wait. GET HELP.
5. Listen. They may not be ready to disclose when you need to hear it most, but be there to pick up the cues of when they’re ready to talk.
I did all of above wrong, to varying degrees, this year has been ALL about learning the above lessons. They are very hard lessons to learn.
I’ll probably fail them again, but I hope to get better at it.
Did I miss any lessons? What have you learnt?
Ps. Im trying to write this as unemotionally as possible, but trust me, lots of tears were shed. If you were at the entrance of my son’s school this morning, yes, I’m the one that was having a good old cry.
Pps. Stay tuned for the Isabel broken leg drama. Having such fun, wish you were here. If only to pour me wine.