Being a mum with bipolar

Posts tagged ‘school’

My Jack

I’ve not written for a while, our house has been riddled with sickness bugs and chest infections so I have been rather busy trying to avoid a hospital admission (so far so good).

My Jack is definitely one in a million and has probably been the hardest in terms of behaviour to look after. He was a grumpy and clingy baby and up until the age of 2 he would not leave my side. It was quite stressful when he was young, Skie was 2 when he was born and whilst she loved her brother and I tried to split my time, with him being so clingy it was hard. I tried all the usual stuff, letting him get on with it, not giving in when he hassled to be picked up and not letting him bully Skie into getting off my lap or sitting next to me so he could but nothing worked, the violence and his temper just got worse.

When he turned 3 we made the decision to put him in playgroup a couple of afternoons to help with the clingyness and attachment issues and it did seem to work, he got better but his temper didn’t. If Jack decided one day he didn’t want to get dressed there was nothing you could say or do to change his mind. There were times he was still in his pyjamas as I was walking out the door and it was only when he saw I really was going to make him go to school like that he would rush up to get changed.

His playgroup journey was a bumpy one but all in all in was a good one. I had amazing support from the staff, they were always there for a talk, vent or cry and would do what ever they could to help. He adored and still does his keyworker and still asks about her a lot, luckily she is a family friend so he does get to see her and it is lovely to see his little eyes light up when he sees her.

Being a nursery teacher and having worked in the role of a senco for a short time (as well as having my own my mental health issues) I had my worries there was more to his behaviour than it being ‘just him’ but I brushed them aside under the belief that too much knowledge makes you see things that aren’t there. The term before he started mainstream school and shortly after the twins were born he had taken a backward step, which we all expected given the circumstances, but I just needed some help. I was so worried his outbursts were seriously going to hurt someone. When he had a meltdown, it didn’t matter who got in his way, if you were in his path you soon regretted it. With 2 new babies and Skie in the house this couldn’t carry on, his strength was amazing when he was angry and at 4 years old I was started to struggle to restrain him to stop him hurting anyone. It was decided to set up meetings between myself and everyone else who cared for Jack in one way or another to see what we could all do to help. Mostly it worked well, the biggest problem was people not showing up, the only meeting everyone involved showed up was the one we had whilst he was still in playgroup, the meetings there after there would always be excuses from people as to why they couldnt come. It made me angry and sad as it felt like my son wasn’t important enough to go to a meeting for.

His behaviour during reception year at school I think was the worst we had ever seen. He did have a lot to deal with; house move, Tom and me seperating, starting school, twin sisters all in a year and on his first day the girls were admitted to hospital so that wasn’t the best start. We plodded on with daily red cards (the school uses the traffic light system and red cards are usually given if violence occurs) and him coming home in a foul mood and the rest of us would know about it. I hated going to school in the afternoon. As the teacher walked across the playground I would always think to myself ‘please don’t come to me, please don’t come to me’ but 9 times out of 10 she was coming to me with a bit of paper and a sad look on her face. All the suggestions in the meetings weren’t working, neither were the parenting courses. I would regularly end up trying to hold back the tears whilst the teacher described what Jack had done to another student, how angry he was and how they couldn’t calm him down and had to remove him for the safety of the other children. I just kept thinking what am I doing wrong, why is he like this, is it my fault? I tried approaching parents of the children he had hurt but they weren’t interested, my son had hurt their kid, most of the time for no reason and of course it is all my fault. I walk across that playground feeling like a criminal and the worst mother in the world because my son keeps hurting children for no reason. I can’t help but think if they got to know him they would see my loving, affectionate, little dude who loves to dance and have a cuddle, but they don’t care, all they see is the ‘class bully’ and a ‘thug’. He is barely invited to parties, doesn’t go to friends houses or have friends here, its sad and heartbreaking to see, I know how it feels to be that person and it isn’t a nice place to be but I am doing my best to get him what he needs.

I had a meeting with his teacher a couple of weeks ago (first time a.teacher has sat down and spoke to me, honestly and in detail) and I learnt a lot about my little dude. He loves art, he will spend hours working on one piece of work, no marks outside the lines, bright and detailed. His teacher says he is a joy to watch when he is doing it and the focus he has is unbelieveable. He also doodles when he is doing written work, on every piece of work he is given you will see doodle marks all round the outside. However, his confidence in doing work is the complete opposite, if he makes a mistake instead of crossing it out and carrying on, he has a meltdown and can not get over the fact he has made a mistake. The end result is usually that his teacher has to move him to calm down before giving him a fresh piece of work but then this can cause more issues because all the time he has spent calming down means he doesn’t finish his work therefore not completing the task he has been set. Most of the violence happens at lunch times whilst in a crowded noisy playground. We don’t think he is being a bully but it’s that he simply cannot cope with the amount of noise and people and causes him to get panicked and stressed which then causes him to lash out when people approach him, so, his teacher is now going to try and find lunch clubs he would like to participate in to get him out the playground and into a calmer environment.

After 3 years we are finally making progress. He still can’t handle loud noises or new smells and still has his tics (clapping and clicking with his mouth) and violence has by no means stopped but we are now seeing more positive things come to light like his art, his amazing memory, he loves performing infront of people especially at majorettes so now we are slowly getting the support. I am hoping people start to see the happy, confident, loving little boy I see instead of the scared ‘thug’ that hits people.

Sometimes people need to see it from another perspective other than their own so next time your child tells you about ‘that boy’ who hit someone for no reason or cried because he made a silly mistake on his work, instead making an instant judgement about his parents stop and think perhaps there is more to it than that and all that parent needs instead of judgement is a small smile or a nod across the playground to know at least one person doesn’t dislike her or her child and that small gesture will do more for her than you will ever know.

Thanks for reading, would love to hear you feedback.

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