Sunday, August 17, 2008

I do not (usually) complain about other people's children in real life

As I mentioned in a comment on my previous post, Scooter is in a class with a couple of kids I wouldn't mind not seeing again. Now, I hold a strong opinion, forged in my years of teaching, that it is my responsibility, as an adult, to interact appropriately with all children, even those with whom I am a complete mismatch.

But what I write here is not an interaction with those kids, so you'll excuse me if I abdicate my adult responsibilities for just a bit in this space.

The kid I knew would be at Scooter's school is not only in the same class, but will be sitting catty-corner from Scooter at the same table. To start. We let the teacher know that Scooter has a tendency either to get angry at this kid or to imitate his noises.

Wait, let me back-track a minute. Let me explain our interactions with this child. And, so that you can hear this appropriately in your imagination, let me give him a (barely) disguised name: Lucifer. Think of a nickname for this that is a common boy's name. Just know that I used to LOVE this nickname.

We first met Lucifer in an introductory sport class for kids aged 3-5, held at our local Y. I signed Scooter up for something to do before we could get him into the preschool program. I figured it would require him to use gross motor skills and be a marginally helpful thing until he was back in OT. I could do a whole "mean mommies" post on how I found myself in the middle of a group that had been doing this program for months and so the women found it hard to muster even a greeting. But most of you don't need that spelled out.

Lucifer and his mom were a bit late to the first class Scooter and I went to. His entry immediately changed the tenor of the class. He was not still for a second and didn't/couldn't pay any attention to directions. He touched and poked and pushed other kids. His mother split her time between yelling at him to stop whatever he was doing and chasing after her toddler.

By the end of our month, neither Scooter not I wanted to go back, so we waited for soccer instead. Guess who was on that team too!

Turns out we had been seeing a fairly tame version of Lucifer. In soccer, he was even worse. Things like blowing spit bubbles (at kids), picking boogers and chasing people with them, pushing even more, picking up sticks and then refusing to put them down. Whenever he was at practice, Trillian (who was assistant coach) spent most of her time corralling him. His harried mother would again be shrilly, oh so shrilly, shouting his name from the sidelines.

(This is why I can no longer use a boy's name with that nickname. The sound will forever be etched into my brain!)

To be fair, I found out later that he has asthma and is on inhaled steroids. His impulsive behavior is either due to this or, at least, greatly exacerbated by it. So I do feel sorry for him and his mother. But holy hell, that doesn't make me want to spend more time with him.

Then there's a second kid in the class who drives me nuts. He was in Scooter's preschool class, I would guess for behavioral issues. He is, as best as I can tell, the fourth of five kids. When he came to Scooter's birthday party, his father dropped him off really fast and picked him up last (besides the neighborhood friend who lives a couple houses away). We were lucky to have extra adults, because he needed one to watch just him most of the time. He's the only kid who let himself into Scooter's room, while everyone else was playing outside. He also shot one of Scooter's plastic golf balls so far into our neighbor's yard that we couldn't see where it was (and it was yellow, so pretty obvious). He unceremoniously takes possession of anything that interests him, including grabbing ahold of gifts as Scooter unwrapped them.

I initially assumed that this child's behavior was some combination of being the youngest (somehow, I got the impression that he was the youngest of three from what his father had said) and his particular character. Then our neighbor told us that all of this family's brood are just as wild as he is.

So these are two of the kids Scooter will be spending kindergarten alongside. At least during the meet-the-teacher afternoon, I know that the teacher got a chance to witness a little of these two's antics. Apparently he taught one of the wild brood last year, not to mention the obvious grabbing and attempts to make off with others' property. And Lucifer gave a performance of his noises at full volume.

On the plus side, Scooter is sitting next to another soccer teammate, one who seems fairly level-headed and nice. And it turns out that the son of the woman who gave us a ride home during a rainstorm is in his class too. I think that he knows yet another boy too, though I'm only going off of first names, so I won't be sure until I see the whole class.

Crossing my fingers that somehow Scooter's drawn to the nice kids and not the bad boys as he sometimes has been in the past.


Aliki2006 said...

Isn't there anything you can do to switch the kids around?

I only ask this because L. was with a kid much like a combination of the two you describe for kindergarten, first, AND second grade. This kid J. was definitely a bad influence on L., who was inclined to spend too much time with J. (they were in two special ed classes together too) and imitated a lot of his behaviors. Now, finally, L. and J. are in separate classes this year and the change is remarkable.

But wait and see--Scooter (or the other kids) may surprise you. But if things go south, I would definitely push to switch. You can use Scooter's IEP (I can't remember if he officially has one) as leverage.

Mouse said...

There's a chance, since we don't know all that many kids yet, that there are equally disruptive kids in the other class too. Our school does allow parent input for placement each year, so we'll take advantage of that if things go as they have before with these kids.

We have told the teacher that the current placement is not good for Scooter. I think he would have moved Lucifer, but Lucifer had already seen where he was sitting and had put his stuff there. So, there may be some seating changes early on. Of course, I think the teacher will quickly realize that there is no good place to put this child. On the plus side, there is a teacher's assistant in the classroom, so there will be another adult around.

Bea said...

I don't understand. They have SEATS in kindergarten? At desks? Or just at chairs? Bub's kindergarten classroom has various play areas and an area for circle time, but no fixed seating.

Mouse said...

There are four or five tables with four or five kids at each. Their spots are labeled with those school-memory-provoking nametags--brightly colored labels with the traditional three lines, names written neatly. They also have mailboxes and coat hooks.

Most of the room is stations and an area for circle time, but they also have this sort of homebase. They've already learned to put their chairs up at the end of the day.