Monday, August 26, 2013

My Child Brought a Bullet to School.......Deviance? or Innocence?


    I have a message to share.  But before I share it, I have a question to ask. " How many of you would like to be rendered inept amongst a roomful of your peers?"  I want you to reflect on this thought as you continue to read...

     Last year, my 7yr. old, about mid-way through the school year brought a bullet to school.  The call came from the principal.  The first words out of his mouth were, "I am not going to make a big deal about this".  When I found my words, I quickly explained that we had been to a Revolutionary War Parade during the summer and my son found it on the ground and must have stuck it in his pocket. His reply was, "I figured there was a reasonable explanation for this".   We discussed the incident for a couple more seconds,  decided to just throw the bullet in the garbage, and just leave it at that.

     I was very fortunate that my child's principal was wise enough to think out of the current box.  Not jump to conclusions.  In order for him to remain so reasonable about the situation at hand, he had to have wondered if there were other, more innocent things at play behind this incident.

     So, "Why did he do that?"

     There is an age old saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover".  Another favorite one warns, "Don't let appearances deceive you".

     That bullet... "Did it represent defiance?" "Violent tendencies?"  "A troubled household?" "Was he just plain bad?"  The answer, "none of the above".

     That bullet represented a child whom was struggling to learn how to read.  It represented social, interpersonal, and academic desperation.  During these times where the bar for academic excellence is being pushed up a notch, for a Type A child, imagine being in a room surrounded by your peers and feeling like your the only one who can't read. Many of whom are reading chapter books, and you are barely getting through a Dr. Seuss book.   Imagine that while your teachers are aware of some of your struggles,  you are bright enough to  come up with strategies to fool even them.  Ways to cover up just how big the problem is for you.  Imagine how heavy a load that is to carry on a set of 7yr. old shoulders.

     "Imagine being  rendered inept by a roomful of your peers"

     So what does a bright, resourceful 7yr. old do in a situation like this?  When he is failing miserably to keep up with his peers academically?  Why, he decides to bring a bullet to school!    What better way to awe/impress your boyhood peers then to show up with a bright and shiny object such as that. Brilliant really, great way to deflect.  Imagine the "oohs & ahhs" that would achieve!!! It was the simple act of a little boy who was trying in his own way to fit in. 

      It could very easily have been construed differently.  Especially in today's times.... Children are under intense scrutiny, socially & academically.  Imagine how that would have resonated with a little boy who was just trying to impress his friends.

     My message is not about teaching your child how to read, it is about getting to know your child in a way that allows you to meet them where he/she is.

     If you have a child whom is displaying counter productive behaviors that are getting in the way of their social, emotional, or academic success, I advise that you look a little deeper.  Fight for that child.  Get to know that child.  When a child is struggling, acting out, or  not responding to "traditional parenting" methods, I quote, Harold Glaser, "It is very rare that it is the product of Pathology".  Meaning, it is highly unlikely that your child's behavior is the result of an unlucky roll of the DNA dice that rendered your child inherently "bad".

     It is more likely that your child is hurting or struggling in some way.  Dig.  Read a book.  Talk to professionals.  If what they are saying to you does not ring as "truth", talk to somebody else. If traditional parenting is not working or even making things worse, then abandon those ideals and find what does work.  Intense kids, kids whom are struggling in some way often need you to step outside that box.   Do the work during these formative years.  It is so important.

     In closing, I do have one book recommendation, it is called, "Transforming the Difficult Child, The Nurtured Heart Approach", by Harold Glaser  



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