Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wayback - My Little Friend Had a Bad Day

Back 7 or so years ago when I taught at the elementary school in a different district, we had a troubled, very young student. He had emotional and learning issues, and he and I bonded. Not all of the posts about him have survived The Great Deletion. Anyway, here's something about Trevor (not his real name.) This post is from August 23, 2004.

Last Monday, my first with Trevor, was a hard day for him. He has never been to school before last week. He doesn’t know the rules; he can’t do lots of things, and he strikes out when he doesn’t understand instead of asking for help. When you don’t know how to ask, you can’t.

My first grade class was writing their names on their work folders. Trevor doesn’t know not to do things with his pencil like poke people, throw it, and give it to someone and then grab it back. In order to help him learn not to do these things, I took Trevor’s work, his pencil and his ruler away. Trevor’s response was to kick the underside of the table for 10 minutes. Okay. I thought that we could start slowly. As I am making sure that the other 20 children don’t need me, I am next to Trevor after his tantrum telling him what he needs to do to get his folder back. I tell him that if he can wait for three minutes without kicking or making noise, then I will give his things back to him. Three minutes turns out to be way too long. I walk to him to ask him why he’s having such a hard time. He has his head on the table and his sad face on. I say, “You can do this Trevor. You can sit quietly. You’re a good boy.”

Without looking at me he says, “No, I’m a bad boy. Always a bad boy. I can’t be good, because I’m bad.” This almost makes me walk away and let him do anything he wants, but I must persevere, or he won’t survive here. I reduce the time to one minute. I tell him to watch my timer and then when it gets to one, he can have his things. I tell him that he is a good boy, I know he can be a good boy and that I love him.

He says okay, and away we go. This time it works. He sits and writes his name, and draws a bit, and then it is time to clean up and go back to class.
He looks at me and says, “You mean we can’t stay here? I don’t want to go back to the class. Why can’t I stay with you?” I hug him and say, “No, but you’ll do a good job in your class. I’ll walk down there with you.” The class lines up, and we go back to his class. I hug him again, and remind him that he is a good boy.

Then, last Thursday, his teacher comes to my door almost at the end of the day. I have my last class, and we will be getting ready to leave in 15 minutes or so. Mrs. Smith opens the door and looks in. I ask what she needs, and she says, “Trevor has been doing such a good job today. We had a talk, and I told him that since he wanted to see you so badly today, if he behaved he could come see you.”

Wow. She could have knocked me over by looking at me too hard. Nothing like love at first sight. I say yes, of course, and he comes in and sits and draws a little in the back of the class. He sits quietly and works, and after a few minutes I tell him it’s time to go. He shows me his paper, gives me a big smile and a hug, and goes back to first grade.

Today, I see Trevor first thing. He comes into school, sees me and I hug him. I tell him that he’s a good boy, and that he will have a good day. Unfortunately, this turns out to be less than true.

Later, Mrs. Smith’s class comes in and sits down. They continue using rulers. The other students complete their pictures and then begin to color them with crayons. Trevor picks up his ruler and starts hitting someone else’s ruler with it. He grabs the crayon box and puts it in his lap, four different times. I explain to him that he must share the crayons, but as soon as I move away from the table, it is in his lap again. I take his folder and ruler and pencil. Trevor tells me he doesn’t care, he doesn’t want it back. He doesn’t like me and he likes to be mean. He goes under the table.

I ask the two students at his table to sit somewhere else, for their own safety. At this point I have no idea what he will do. While Trevor is under the table, he starts humming to himself. I think, maybe this is what he does when upset, I’ll let him sit for a minute. I do, but then go to him to get him back in his chair. He seems calm, but then tells me that he is mean. “You watch out, I’ll be mean to you. I’ll call you names, I’ll call you a [brat], I’ll get you,” he says. The other kids hear this and gasp, and I tell them to ignore him. I tell him that he won’t do any of those things and then get him in his chair. He gets under the table again after I say that he will get his things back once he can raise his hand.

I send a note to the principal. When the student taking the note leaves, Trevor decides that he must follow the student, so I have to then guard the door so that Trevor may not leave the room. When the principal arrives, she tries to explain to Trevor that he must behave. He ain’t buying it. She accompanies us back to his class, at which point I leave.

I found out today that he's been abandoned by his parents and thrust on the grandmother, who also doesn't want him. Nothing like the innocence of childhood, huh?

Tomorrow he’ll probably be asking to see me again. I’ll have to deal with that when it comes.

No comments: