The day it happened there was nothing unusual about the morning. Getting him dressed had, as always, involved chasing him around his bed whilst he babbled irrelevant chatter, hoping I’d forget he needed clothes on. Breakfast, may or may not have been eaten, I can’t remember but if it had there will have been endless exclaiming of “I don’t know what I want” before I placed something of my choosing in front of him. This might have been eaten or I might have packed and apple and an oaty bar in his school bag for later, the bowl of cereal remaining bloated and untouched on the kitchen table. I remember daddy was away and he had taken the car but the weather was fine and to encourage the troops I agreed on scooting.
Scooting, what a nightmare that had become. Constant vying for pole position brought sulking and anger to what should be a fun treat of a trip to school. So I broke the route into sections and they took it in turns to be first. One section was the best because of the big hill. Tink loves this section although his scooting skills, less daring than his brothers, always saw him take a tentative approach, this was the best bit for being the lead.
The day it happened I gave Stig the section with the big hill; it was by far his turn as I constantly dealt him an unfair hand in the hope of appeasing Tink. I would smile sweetly at him and thank him for letting his brother have the advantage, again. Not today it was definitely Stig’s turn. I explained this to Tink as we scooted section one, his pole position which he refused to take. Hanging back with me he sulked, he negotiated; he reasoned the unfairness of a blatantly fair decision.
We reached the corner; the big hill sloped away before us and at this point changeover for the converted spot should take place. This corner just happens to be a not so big bit of pavement on the busiest road through our town. Not really ideal for a full blown tantrum and meltdown but who was choosing? Not me but the youngest.
Unable to contemplate the possibility that he could not go first down the hill he stopped, dead. Scooter on the floor and a point blank refusal to move. Stig shifted uneasily, waiting for the ok to go, not wanting to relinquish his prized position but sensing the inevitable may be about to occur. The cogs in my head whirred hoping the answer might miraculously jump into the mechanics of my brain. I reasoned quietly, I cajoled more enthusiastically and then pleaded desperately. All the while I fought to protect Stigs well deserved honour, first on the hill, as I feared otherwise the dropped head and heavy sigh of another slight to him.
Tink ramped it up. Agitated he began to pace on our piece of pavement, exacerbated mutterings tripping from his lips as he marched around on our postage stamp plot. I knew he was lost now, even if we gave him first place he was unlikely to go and with this realisation my anxiety soured. The clock was ticking, school would be starting and we had no hope of moving.
Out of the corner of my eye lovely Post Office mum came across the street, her daughter was in Stig’s class. I pounced. Would she mind terribly if Stig came with them to school, open hand gestures towards other child and strained face with raised eyebrows. She kindly agreed and Stig finally got the ok to go with calls of “behave” and “not too fast” trailing after him.
So there we stood Tink and I stranded, not knowing the next move. I breathed deeply, watched him, eyed the uncertainty on his face and made some comforting sounds. I wondered if the space Stig’s absence gave us might change things?
He stooped, picked up his scooter, contemplated for one brief second and then pointed it in the direction of home exclaiming “I’m going home”.
Home how relieved was I to have him and me safe within familiar walls. We snacked and drank tea, side by side on the sofa before I broached the subject of School. Instantly the agitation returned, the armour was being donned he was preparing to fight. Then the unfamiliar, surprising him and me, tears. Soft salty droplets on his pinking cheeks and a watery glaze over his imploring eyes. I pulled him towards me and I knew what had to be done. “it’s ok you don’t have to go today”.
So that was the startling realisation of the extent of Tink’s dislike for school. The realisation of just how difficult surviving in this ever changing environment had become for him. Once happy to step back and dip his head under the raider for trouble or learning struggles, he was finding it increasingly tricky to pull the wool over the eyes of his educators. Things were not right for him, he knew it and he was losing control of the situation. This was Year 3, there was work to be done, he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t believe he could do it and there was little room to hide.
On that day he decided to tell me just how bad it had become and on that day I showed him I was listening, that I could hear his pain. I think he put his pyjamas on and brought his blanky downstairs, the prescription was cartoons and cuddles. I made a promise to him on that day that I would make things better for him in school and a year or so later we are moving in the right direction.