Tuesday, May 11, 2010

They say, 'be careful what you wish for...'

Stinking 'they'. Who the hell are 'they' anyway?

So, I get to school to pick Billy up today, and overall it's been quite a good day. There have been ups and downs and he's understood most of them.

He has been crashing down people's lego creations (known at hippy school as 'bases'), and people are seriously annoyed at him. He got that. He also understood and accepted the consequences.

I can see the base crashing has a number of interesting elements to it. Bases are the number one cause of tension at hippy school, and so they should be. They are made of lego, so they are colourful and fragile. They are the product of a lot of thought, planning and (often) collaboration. When Billy crashes them, he stuffs up all of that thought, planning and collaboration. It's flat out annoying.

For Billy, it's a huge sensory release (I feel crash, I see crash, I hear crash). The desire for that crash is often related to a game he has been playing alone (today, it was a Percy's Chocolate Crunch game, with a green lego piece playing Percy and someone's base inadvertenty playing the chocolate factory). There's also the fact that by crashing a base, he gets the conversation and interaction he craves, without having to do any hard work to make it happen. No decoding language, no reading faces, no inventing novel words... just immediate attention (mostly of the adult variety, as the kids are over him by that point). Job done, Billy style.

The teachers think there's an element of naughtiness here too, and maybe there is. We don't see it at home much, but then we don't see much challenging behaviour. I'm willing to provisionally accept their reading of the situation...

So, consequences attached, Billy was banned from base corner, and the day progressed. He'd chosen animals to study in preparation for a trip to the zoo. In fact, he chose two. And he'd had a brilliant conversation with one of his younger classmates about frogs. Turns out both of them love frogs, and know 'all the frogs in the whole wide universe'.

Then, as we walked out the front gate and past the front fence of the school, three older boys from Billy's class called out to him, stopping him in his tracks.

'Hey Billy', they called in loud, slow voices accompanied by exaggerated, bright eyed facial expressions (you know the sort you are tempted to use with tiny babies or people with dementia), 'Do... you... have... a... house?'

'Yes, of course.' said Billy, to a chorus of giggles and smirks.

I was standing right there. Right next to them. Probably not the smartest choice these patronising little ingrates have made. I gave them the Mummy death stare, until one said... 'what...?'

Through angry tears, I said, 'You guys need to think very carefully about why you ask Billy questions like that...' and glared some more, until they shrank away.

Things were spinning through my head, as I grasped Billy's hand too tightly, walking back to the car. I'm thinking, Billy's so much nicer and smarter and... and.. and. But it doesn't matter what Billy is, to a lot of kids. Hell, it doesn't matter to a lot of adults. Because the thing they will struggle with, right up front, is the fact that he's different. And, different conjures up a lot of instinctual stuff in people.

Right now, I'd like to hurt those boys. I understand I cannot. But here, in a nutshell is exactly what I fear. These kids are six, maybe seven. And they already desire the power that comes from a cheap shot. They already relish the role of predator, and see my son as prey. It's primal, and it stinks.

I'll talk to the teachers. I'll talk to the kids. I've talked to Billy already. I've given him some words to consider as reactions ('I think that's a silly question' and 'Please don't disrespect me') but really, I'm pushing shit uphill. Or perhaps it's the whole moving a mountain one teaspoon at a time thing...

Am I allowed to flick teaspoons of soil into the eyes of little children? Even 'accidentally'...?


fionacrowls said...

I give you permission to flick soil at the little buggers!
That really sucks.
I hate that our kids are subjected to that kind of crap.
I hope Billy has a better day tomorrow :(
And you have reacted exactly as I would have in the same situation.
Someone poked the mummy tiger. grrrrrrrr

Daphne said...

Oh Val, I so feel you. I hate that they were so snarky to Billy. And I just don't get how that behavior evloves. I have never understood the desire to target.
Alas, I too, have perfected my mommy death stare. I have actually seen a few kids shiver when I have unleashed it.
I hope Billy has a better day today.

DQ said...

Oh, I am REALLY sorry. This kind of thing brings out 'Mumma Bear' and the desire to protect is overwhelming. This is hard. This is also life. And it sucks. And those kids suck, even if they are too young to yet fully understand the consequences of their actions and words. Talking to teachers is one thing, talking to parents, well, it might be too big a step. parents are an integral part of these little kid's understanding of the world. I was too chicken to speak to them but I wrote a letter (it is on my blog under the inclusion efforts page if you want to read) and it helped. Not a huge amount but it did help.
thinking of you and sending comforting hugs.