On a recent Thursday daycare pickup, I got out of the car and heard yelling between T and a little girl.
At first, I thought they were just playing but upon a closer look, I saw the two of them screaming at each other’s face, a parent standing behind the girl and the daycare staff behind T.
T saw me and ran to me. He wanted to leave but I was not going to leave without finding out what was going on.
We walked over. “Is everything ok?” I asked.
“No, it’s actually not,” said the mother.
T had thrown grass at the 4 year old girl’s face and the girl then hit T back in retaliation and that set off the screaming match.
So I asked T to apologize. He was reluctant to do so and the girl apologized first.
He apologized quietly and I made him repeat himself so that everyone could hear.
Once he did, I let him go and play in the playground while I spoke with the staff.
She said that T is very hands on with the kids and still has a hard time with understanding when kids just want to be left alone.
She mentioned that because of his behaviour, one of the parents had asked for T and their child to be kept separated.
Well, that just bummed me out. It kept me up that night as I thought about it. It’s always hard to see this kind of feedback about T no matter how thick skinned I feel I’ve become over the years.
But one thing parenting T has taught me is that every day is a new day and a clean slate.
The next day, when I got out of the car, I expected there be another screaming match.
I heard excited shouting and in the distance I saw T holding a ball away from the girl.
Here we go again, I thought.
But they were running around excitedly and playing nicely with each other.
The staff, a different one from the day before, said that the two of them actually like to play with each other.
I took T to the playground, where we usually play for another hour before heading home.
The girl arrived five minutes later with her mom.
While the two kids played excitedly with each other, I spoke with the mom. I apologized again for T’s behaviour and she, in turn, apologized for her daughter’s behaviour.
I told the mother that I spoke with T about his behaviour and told him about keeping his hands to himself, no hitting when upset and most certainly, no throwing things at people’s face, even if it’s meant in jest.
The two of us further chatted about the challenges of parenting and schooling in a pandemic – and her being a single mom.
While we by no means are going to be BFFs, it was good to make that connection and for me to demonstrate I took T’s actions seriously and in turn, I was glad she also took ownership on her end. My kind of parent!
This experience taught me it’s good to let kids figure things out, but it’s also good – especially at a young age and for kids with additional needs – to help pave the path for T to maximize his success with important matters like his social experience.
I’ve also reached out to the Special Needs Resource Consultant who has been working with T before the pandemic. She said she will reach out to the daycare staff to touch base, including the possibility of refresher training on strategies to respond to his more challenging behaviors.
It was wonderful to end the week on that upbeat and positive note!