As our children come to the end of another school year, I wanted to write you all a letter. It is, I suppose, an apology for all of the difficulties you’ve had to face this school year, some of which were a direct result of my child’s behaviour.
I’m sorry that your child came home from school that day with a bruise. Sometimes my son comes home with bruises or scratches too, so I know how you feel. My son can always tell me who gave him the bruise and how, but can rarely tell me what led up to it actually happening. Perhaps your child is a bit more clear at explaining the sequence of events, so that when you go and complain to the teachers about my son, you know for certain that it was my child’s fault and that your own child did nothing to provoke him in any way. For me though, I have to tell my son that he’ll be ok, I’ll look after his hurts, and that perhaps he should find a different game to play with that child next time so nobody gets hurt.
I’m sorry that my son leads with his fists rather than his words. Unfortunately he was taught to do this at a very young age by people who should have known better but didn’t. As a consequence, we have to spend a lot of time teaching him that it’s not ok to hurt other people. He is learning, but it’s very slow, probably because he has been hurt so much in his own little life that he can’t quite grasp that hurting isn’t ok. I understand that when your child was on the receiving end of it, that must have been horrible; I myself have been on the receiving end of his aggression more times than I can count, so I know how difficult and painful it must have been.
I’m sorry that you felt that your only course of action was to go and speak to the teacher about it. I am usually running a bit late in the mornings. Trying to organise two small boys who are very reluctant to go to school and get them out of the house on time means we’re often in a rush, so perhaps I wasn’t there that morning for you to talk to directly. Myself and/or Mrs S are usually in the playground after school, and we have contact through Facebook or WhatsApp groups, but at 4’11” I suppose I cut quite an imposing figure that makes it difficult for you to talk directly to me about my son’s behaviour towards your child. In my professional life I’m a nurse, and we are a group who aren’t generally known for our friendliness or for being approachable or understanding or easy to talk to. I’m sorry we weren’t able to talk directly so that we can work together to find ways for our children to be friends, to understand that my sons aren’t naughty, but that they sometimes forget the things that they have been taught by Mrs S and I.
Despite being sorry to you, there are two people I am even more sorry for: my sons. Two boys, who at the age of five and six, are only just learning things that your children learned years ago. Two boys who know that hitting is not ok, but who lack the impulse control to stop it at times. Two boys whose background has taught them that adults can’t be trusted. Two boys who don’t know safety and security, despite having both here with me and Mrs S, because when their brains were developing they learned the wrong things.
When you had your child, you started from scratch. Everything they learned, they learned from you. You know where they have been, what they have done, who they have met. You’re lucky, that gives you the confidence to know that your child is the victim and my child is the perpetrator. Unless you look a little bit closer of course, and then you might be able to see that my child is also a victim. An easy scapegoat. A little boy, who had to wait years to have what your child had from the second they were born.
I hope you all enjoy your summer holidays. For us the lack of structure generally means turmoil, overnight stays mean panic and lack of contact with other children means loneliness.
Actually, I’m not that sure I am sorry after all.
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