Since my posts for the past weeks have all been related to a certain troubled (and troubling...) student, I'd like to share one positive moment from yesterday. I have let this student and his mother know that he is allowed to bring gum to school (in a desperate attempt to calm his sensory-seeking body and focus his mind). Yesterday, he showed me in the morning the pack of stride gum he had brought. He asked if I liked it, and I told him that I usually chew orbit gum and hadn't really tried stride very much. He offered me a piece! I asked if I could wait until lunch time and he said "sure." Then, at lunch, he came over to my desk and handed me a piece of gum. A big smile materialized on my face. It was the highlight of my day
I know it may seem small, but this is the child who made it his personal mission the past few days to derail my entire lesson, distract his whole class, and make me insanely angry. He knows exactly how to make me angry, and has no restraint in doing so. Then yesterday, he gave me a piece of gum. While I know this act does not mean our difficult relationship is over and his behavior will be angelic from now on, I appreciated so much this reminder that this child is not evil. He does not hate me. He is capable of being civil and kind. I needed so much this reminder that he is just a little boy and we really do have a relationship. The problems with his behavior are so much deeper than me or my classroom, and sometimes when he's acting out of control, he really is feeling out of control. How scary it must be for him to, some days, feel like he can't control his body or his words or his emotions. How frustrating it must be for him to melt down and then go the rest of the day knowing that he made a mistake and not be able to turn himself around. How sad it must be to think somedays that I hate him. I don't hate him. I hate this behavior.
When he gave me a piece of gum, it was the reminder I needed that this child is really just that: a child. He needs me and looks up to me. He offered me a piece of gum. He didn't offer any to the other students, but to me, the teacher who he has terrorized all week. And even though I really hate cinnamon gum, I accepted it and pretended it was the best gum I had ever tasted. And it kind of was.
Gum is not the magic fix to all that's going on with this student, unfortunately. But I know we will get through this.