It’s always hard, not matter how many times it happens. No matter how well I try to prepare myself for anything and everything.
Today I took my son to a drama class. We had agreed that with all his improvements this year, we would extend his social contact with the world by adding an extra weekly activity not taught by me.
He’s been doing really well in his tap dancing lessons on Saturday’s so I honestly thought he was ready to make the next step to adding a new class. Given a few choices, he insisted that he really wanted to do a drama class.
Now we are not like the majority of parents with an eight year old. We can’t just Google local drama classes and then turn up at the first ‘free trial’ class, drop our kid at the door and see how it goes. Nope.
I Googled and got a list of many classes in our area. I then sent emails out to the ones who stated on their website that their classes help socially awkward children to learn social skills and develop confidence. I detailed my son’s difficulties and the specific behaviours they could expect to see if he became anxious or ‘bored’ in the class. I then asked them to please reply if they believed that they had any teachers who could handle that.
I received one reply, and it was from the principal of the area for that particular drama school. She told me that the specialises in ‘difficult’ kids, and that he should come and try the class that she herself would be teaching. She said to bring him three weeks into the term so that things would be less hectic, and that she would be having an assistant join her from the third week on so that would make it easier. All those things made me think she knew what she was in for. Nope.
I took him along today. I prepared him by telling him the four main rules of the class (basic rules for any group lesson). I reminded him that his Ritalin would be running out about that time, and that he would need to be responsible for concentrating and controlling his body. He was still eager and excited.
Forty five minutes into the class, he burst out of the room with a big happy smile on his face, and asked me for his drink bottle. He drank, and then ran back in. He came out again about 5 minutes later for another drink, and I sent him back in with his bottle. He didn’t come out again until the class had finished. I assumed by his happy face, and the fact that he had stayed in there for so long, that things had gone well. Nope.
I went up to the teacher at the end to find out how it had gone. She basically said that she didn’t think he was ready for a class yet. She said the same things everyone always says…”he’s so charming and polite! He’s very creative and so clever!… but he just can’t sit still and listen to instructions! He ran all around the back of the room when he wasn’t directly involved in the activity and other kids started following him. He was banging on drums and not following instructions.”
I replied, “yes, that’s what I warned you about. That is what he struggles with…” Anyway, it was just too hard for her to run the class with him in it. I was devastated for him and I knew that he would be upset about it.
When I told him that he couldn’t go back next week, he turned to me in total shock and said, “why?”
I told him the truth, that it was just too difficult for the teacher to teach the class with him running around and banging on drums when he needed to be sitting still and listening.
He threw his metal drink bottle at the ground and dented it. He then ran past the car and said he was going to walk home. I got in the car and let him walk it off. I knew he’d come back eventually. I called my husband because I was really upset that it hadn’t worked out. By then my son had turned around and was storming past the car back to the gate and shouting,
“I’m going back up there to give that stupid teacher what for!” I called for him to get in the car, and to my surprise, he did!
“Fine, but I’m sitting in the back and I’m not saying a word to you!”
Poor thing. Yes, his reaction did dent a drink bottle and also put a scratch in my leather seat. He said he wanted to kill the teacher and all the kids, but I just ignored that. His feelings were hurt. He was mad at himself for having ‘failed’ yet again to control himself when he got too excited. He really wanted to do that class, and he had been excited to go back. Being told he wouldn’t be able to go back made him really upset. Really upset is too hard for him to handle still, so he defaults to anger, or ‘fight’. I didn’t go on about it, I just sat quietly and let him be with his feelings, but with me near him. I knew he had punished himself by sitting in the back seat. Sitting in the front passenger seat is something he’s only been allowed to do by law for a few months now, and he’s still really excited and happy about being allowed. He also told me that he hates drama anyway, and he also hates The Octonauts. Again, he’s punishing himself. Denying himself things he enjoys because he knows he messed up. He doesn’t need me to punish him any further.
By the time we got home, he had calmed down (about a 10 minute car ride). He hid under his blankets for a few minutes, then came out and emptied the dishwasher for me and asked if I could make him some food.
It must be so hard knowing that your inability to control your body in certain situations is making you miss out on fun things that you really want to do. Such a shame.
We might try again a little later in the year, with a different teacher and a different class.