Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shoe on the other foot

With all that is been going on in our lives now I really try to not get all judgmental on parents ability to parent and that not all children are just bratty out of control monsters. I think sometimes I over analyze children I come across now and think that something must be wrong. I have sort of gone the other way and over compensate so I don't feel guilty if in fact there is some underlying problems with a child.
I have been blessed with an amazing job and not many can say they love what they do. Granted there are days I question if I am good enough and why I could be around children that make me want to pull my hair out sometimes but I love it because the good far out weighs the bad. I do it because I want to make a difference and share my love and knowledge.
Given our current situation with H I try to approach challenging situations in a different light. I try to be more sympathetic and understanding without letting my emotions and feelings mar the big picture. I won't ever let a child use a disability as an excuse to misbehave or get away with what they want but I will understand that sometimes behavioral issues are beyond their control sometimes. It is my job as a teacher to utilize all my resources and not ever give up on a child. I refuse to give up!
A situation I encountered today was about typical but then again not so much. A lot of the kids have parents coming home from 4-6 month deployments. Their lives once again are about to be flipped upside down. When kids have special needs this is even harder for them to handle. Some kids however are just oblivious to it and it won't hit them until the moment they see that parent that has been gone. This child today clearly knew a big change was coming and sadly he had no clue how to handle himself.
We did what we could as the teachers in the room to help him. I was fed up and ready for him to head home by the end of the day. We often believe it is careless parenting and lack of trying that leads to this  sort of exacerbation from us teachers but sometimes you have to look at it from their perspective. What is their home life really like, where are these parents coming from, what is if any their support system?
Suddenly it took me looking into a parents eyes today to really change my thinking. A mother came in with tears in her eyes and was so upset with her child who had not had a stellar day. I could feel this tugging at me more and more because I have been there I knew exactly how she felt. She looked at me and her tears started flowing. She said she didn't know what to do and that he really isn't a bad child and he is often a sweet boy. I had to fight my own emotions because I swear it was me in this mothers  body. All the months of struggling with H are being relived through this mother at this very moment.
I did something I hardly see teachers do anymore. I looked her in the eyes gave her the most sympathetic smile and touched her arm gently and said " it is ok, he will be ok, we will get through this together as a team. We are not giving up on him."
Despite her child demanding the attention of mom by doing what he could she looked at me and smiled and told me thank you and appreciated it. I could see the exhaustion in her face and the look of defeat. I can't tell you how many days I have left with H feeling the same way. I hate that my child ever puts his teachers through this but I also realize a lot of it is not his fault. He can't always help how he reacts to situations and his emotions. This child is the same way. It is my job though to help him learn how to cope and help the mother at the same time. Granted some parents do not care to use our methods at home or believe they do not work, but at least I can go home knowing I did my part and it is in their hands.
As she left I stooped down to the child's level held his shoulders and said quietly "Hey does something special happen tonight?" He looked at me and his eyes lit up " Yes, yes he said my daddy is coming home tonight on a big airplane" I told him that between now and when you go get daddy it was his job to help mom and do everything she asks so that when they go pick up daddy he can hear what a good, helpful boy you have been. He got so excited he grabbed his stuff and said :mom we have to go I have to go home and help you get ready for daddy!" I had to fight back tears because I know her child can be so helpful and means well he just needs an outlet, someone who understands him and can handle him.
As she left I stopped and thought of how this is my life. While my husband might not deploy any more, and my son is younger than hers, I understand their situation. For the last 4 months she has handled the whole house on her own with her children, gone to work and had to come pick up those children to often hear of the antics. We do what we call a "Sandwich" we tell the good, the not so good and follow up with a good. However with this family I am creating my own sandwich maybe I should just call it bread because I am just going to tell her the highlights and eliminate the negative unless it is warranted. She has enough to deal with why make her hear the bad all the time?
I put myself in her shoes as she goes home to cook dinner, clean the house, do laundry and prepare for her following day. I think of how I am sure her kids will be under food and into everything just like H. I thought of how in a few hours those kids are going to have their world flip again because their family would be whole. Would this cure the problems? Nope. Though it might make it easier to have the tag team like I have. Tag time is a great thing and hopefully now this option will help them. I have some handouts I came across that I hope will help them.
I am just thankful at times like this that we got help now and are not waiting till he is older. I am just glad I have gone with my mom instinct and doing what I can to get him help so he can have the skills and help to get through tough situations as he gets older. I am thankful that my days of hearing how bad they have been are getting far and few between. Though this week has been tough but there are lots of factors in it on why they have been so bad.
I put that show on the other foot, walked a mile in it and realized that things are not always what they seem and we just have to put our self in that situation to truly understand it. I have a new perspective on things and hope to be able to utilize them in my daily use. Maybe it will make a difference maybe it wont.