Being computer-less makes this whole blog thing a little harder so excuse my absence but this post has been well thought out and comptimplated at least. This is a post about this summer and an event that changed my mindset
A little background for you: this summer I was back at the child care center as a summer camp teacher. I had refused to do this job last summer because of how miserable I was the summer before but I was convinced into retaking the position after a year hiatus. This year we had very young summer camp, which normally ranges in ages 6-12, most of the kids being 6-8. One of those students, we’ll call him student O, had some issues,those included getting overwhelmed and then having meltdowns. I got very good at de-escalating this child and noticing when he might be becoming overwhelmed and overstimulated but there were still those days where he’d come in upset and that would turn into a roller coaster of a day. All on top of having 25-30 students and 2 teachers in the room.
Now picture this student plus 25 others, at a public pool, on a hot summer Friday. It was crowed. It was a completely different pool then we usually went to on Fridays AND it was one of student O’s bad days. Bad enough that when he walked in I turned to my co-teacher and said I really hope he has his meltdown before we leave. Well, while at the pool I had noticed O seemed to be getting agitated. My co-teachers and I all made sure someone was within arms length, just incase, and it’s a good thing we did. O decided it was his turn on a facility provided pool toy and butted in front of a girl who was not with us and took his turn. The girl calmly waited as my co-teacher told O to get off. Finally the girl had enough and decided to hit O to try to get him off and that made an already agitated O more frustrated and he kicked her. My co-teacher immediately removed O and then the screaming started. It was at that point he got out of the teacher’s arms and went to the pool stairs. I followed but kept my distance. I calmly talked to O as he continued to scream “get away from me” and ” leave me alone” but then he swatted at a random person walking into the pool and I decided it was time to completely remove him.
This is where thing get tricky…..O manages to sit on the edge near two women who were very obviously there with there kids and continued to yell. As I am picking him up I am also apologizing to them. I don’t know what I expected but the looks I got were not it. I didn’t expect anyone to know this child had a medical diagnosis to explain how he acted but I didn’t expect to get looks that basically said “would you shut him up” nor did I expect to hear wispers of ” what a spoiled brat“. It took all my strength to control him enough to pick him up, still screaming and now kicking and hitting, and carry him away that I couldn’t even think to say anything. However here is what I would say.
I am sorry the child you see me with right now is ruining your perfectly good Friday. I am sorry I can not get him to stop yelling right this minute. I am sorry he is by you right now. I am not sorry if it seems like I am not doing enough to stop this “spoiled brat” because all I can do is put him at my feet and let him finish. I am not sorry that I took him to a public place knowing he may act like that. BUT I am definitely sorry you can not seem to understand that maybe this child has something going on nor do you get to see how awesome he really can be.
To the ladies who glared, I get it, I can’t say I necessarily blame you but imagine this was your child, what would you do? To the ladies who called him spoiled and a brat, he is actually the sweetest little boy when he isn’t having a meltdown. This isn’t his way of getting what he wants. To all of those parents who gave me looks of pity, please don’t, working with him has been a learning experience and I love it. To the people who gave me looks like I wasn’t doing enough. I’m strong, I can handle it like a pro, even if you don’t think I am. Sometimes a child just needs to cry it out. Finally to the lady who was sitting next to our chairs, where I removed O to to let him scream and cry it out, THANK YOU! Thank you for asking me politely if there was anything I needed, where we were from, and if he was ok. Your compassion meant a lot. Even your question about if the center was for “special children” showed your understanding. Your smile when O finally calmed down and just cuddled with me, meant a lot too. I know a lot of people there would have thought it was ridiculous I was coddling him after all that. Also, your comment to me about how I was a great teacher and I handled that well made my day. I truly love what I do, meltdowns and all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So readers, what I hope you get from this is when you see that child screaming their head off in public, don’t immediately think the child is just unruly and acting poorly, for some kids it can’t be helped and though I am not a parent of one of these kids I learned just how those parents feel. It’s not fun, the looks, the whispers, all of it, is obvious and they know it’s happening and they know why. When something like that is out of your control yet you get all those things it can break you, make you second guess your actions, and that’s not fair.
We all judge, I know that, but now it’s time to really take into account that just because a child looks normal doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on.
SO readers, think before you stare…..