The children in our support group are a bit like a barometer. The pressure inside the school and out on the estate seems to be reflected in their behaviour. This week everyone is tired. These children are particularly challenging at the moment. There is an impending separation which is sending them haywire and their tempers are even shorter than usual. Yet in spite of this, there are moments of calm, where they forget to be angry and anxious and are able to relax.
Cheeky Grin is becoming more and more violent, particularly towards one of the members of staff in the group. I excluded him for half a day today for assaulting the member of staff. Part of the difficulty we are having is that we are getting so little support from home. There are no consequences for his actions, so he doesn’t care. This makes it very, very difficult for us. We implement consequences in school but these are not supported by his parents.
The child whose behaviour was reflecting the break up of her parents is now back in class. It has taken us two weeks and a huge amount of our Pupil and Family Support Worker’s time but she has managed it. Today mum was supposed to come and see her at lunchtime to see how she was getting on. She didn’t come. She was devastated. However, somehow, she managed to return to class and have a good afternoon. Our PFSW has spent much time on building her resilience over the past few weeks and this seems to be having an impact.
In between dealing with the children from the support group I was meeting with staff to look at ways of sorting out some issues they were having. This was very successful and we managed to find resolutions to the majority of their concerns. Most stem from anxieties about wanting to be the best that they can be for the children and things that they felt were preventing them from doing this.
I had lunch with the support group. It was delightful. Although they are all quite volatile at the moment we managed to have a lovely time. Initially one child decided that he didn’t want his school dinner and started to kick the door. We all ignored him and got on with our lunches, chatting away quite happily. Eventually he came and sat down and ate. Holding that line is so important for these children, it’s what makes them feel safe, contained. Once everyone had finished eating they started playing with the lego.
This was fascinating. They build houses. With beds and baths and gardens. And fridges full of beer and vodka. They have BBQ parties where there is loud music and everyone can get drunk. The garden in which this party was happening was immaculate, with neat rows of lego flowers, very carefully arranged. One child caught my concerned expression and the beer and vodka morphed into lemonade.
They take it in turns to be the ‘dad’ or the ‘child’. The houses they build are huge and spacious and everyone has their own room. There are giant lego limos to transport them around.
And there was the police station. There is always a police station. And in the police station there were prisoners. Good prisoners were allowed a bath and some food. Bad prisoners weren’t. It wasn’t quite clear what the prisoners had done. And the police have a big gun. To make sure that the prisoners don’t escape. Perhaps they feel a bit like prisoners in the group…
The children were totally absorbed in this game. I joined in and played alongside them. They play out real bits of their lives in a constructed world that is as far away from reality as it can be, cramped housing conditions transformed into huge mansions and gardens full of rubbish and old furniture into idyls with neat rows of flowers.
What is so fascinating is that this is a repeated game, not a one off. They construct and inhabit these alternative realities on a daily basis…