We are gathered here to have a follow up meeting, a post incident check in.
Part I: The Back Story
The incident: Sam pours bucket of dirt and sand in it’s entirety over his friend’s head.
Their conclusion: Child is withdrawn, needs help expressing feelings.
Their Suggestion: Sticker chart for rewarding verbal expression of emotions vs. withdrawing and acting out.
Observation: Boys at school are excluding each other from play.
Feelings are getting hurt.
My conclusion: Child is adopted, feeling excluded, stuffing loss deep down into body. It came out in a bucket.
My suggestion: No sticker chart. Encourage all children to play together. Adults chart who is playing with whom, and what the groups are doing to exclude and include. Redirect all children, don’t pathologize one.
Observation: How often is this (black, adopted, from a single parent family) child going to be singled out for behavior( shared by a group)?
Part II: Mama Speaks
In the awkward silence with the three chairs nestled in the small, windowless office/store room piled high with toys on industrial hand made pine board shelves I offer to begin.
As an adoptee, Sam begins his story with loss, and adornment. After nine months getting to know the only person he think exists in the world, he was taken away from her when he was thirty-six hours old. Her smell, her voice, her heart beat, her laughter, all gone.
I look at them, and see tears welling up.
This loss informs him in ways no one can predict or understand. I know that it can make transitions very hard. I mean think about his first transition from womb to world–and the outcome there?
At this point they join in. Explaining how helpful that is to hear. Asking me questions about his story, what he knows, what they can talk about.
I feel like I have gone over all of this. Then I realize, that doesn’t matter. This matters.
I model for them how I handle when he says;
My first mom doesn’t love me.
She wouldn’t have given me to you, if she loved me.
I remind them that he is the only child in the room that has all these three descriptors; black, adopted, from a single parent home. I remind them that children notice difference, even if they don’t tell you they do. Some children are taught not to talk about difference. So, they figure it out on their own.
I know they need to get on the playground soon.
Enough from me, what are you noticing?
to be continued…