Saturday, 26 October 2013

Knife-wielding children and other darlings

The dreaded course has come and gone. Predictably, it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. We didn't have to do the awful 'lets go round the room and introduce ourselves' bit - we just had weird questions to answer to the others on our table, and that was easy. I found out that Ms Fab's childhood ambition was to be a posh nanny to a rich family. I actually started training to be a posh nanny to rich families when I was 18, but found the other students unbelievably snobby and one-dimensional. They lived for money, thought status was everything, and were generally judgmental and unpleasant people.  I lasted a term and couldn't wait to give my horrible nanny's uniform to a charity shop. 

Anyway - the course. It was run by a mental health doctor and nurse, plus a woman that was some kind of behavioural therapist, so they knew what they were talking about. Ms Fab and I had gone with the intention of learning more about some of our badly behaved/irritating children. Sharing experiences around the table, we soon realised that, actually, we were total wimps who were making something out of less than nothing. One girl had just managed to shut herself into a room before a child attacked her. She'd slammed the door and the child drove his knife straight through it. Makes you look a bit pathetic to say that a student drives you mad by licking pencils.

We found that a teacher on the course had taught one of last year's Horrible Boys. She'd been describing an incident of temper flare-ups and meanness, and Ms Fab and I kept looking at each other and saying how it reminded us of a particular character. 'We used to have that boy,' the teacher told us. 'He was a year four and scared the hell out me. Used to stalk other children. Glad to get rid of him.' 

It was a very interesting course, and we've already signed up for the next one they're doing in March, on children's anxiety. Some courses are such a waste of time, but this one was full of practical ideas and common sense. And the tutors were brilliant. One told us how she'd licked the bottom of her shoe to prove to a student with OCD that the germs wouldn't kill her. She said she'd spent the next week praying not to be ill, as the child would think he'd been right all along.

The other people on the course were okay, although the girl who'd been the target of the knife-wielder was rather irritating. She spent the course applying hand-cream, checking her nails, sending texts and eating. I could easily have taken a knife to her myself. But, no, maybe she was using avoidance techniques. Perhaps she was doing these little rituals to make herself feel safe. She did leave the room once - maybe she was under stress. What were the triggers to her behaviour? Did she need calming down and a nice person to talk to? Maybe she had PTSD due to the knife incident. Maybe she was just being a pain in the backside. 

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