So my day of solace has been interrupted by the ding of an email notification from the middle school. (Darn, I knew I should have silenced my cell phone alerts.) Not only is he struggling with being respectful and doing his work today, he left behind a note earlier in the week to explain how he was really feeling about his teacher and his class! The below is the note, misspellings and all, that was shared in the email, that broke up my solitude and peace, entitled, "Bashful is having a very bad day".
"I don't care about you (insert teachers name here) you should just get out of my life you are like an annoying fat rat in my life. I wish I never saw or meat you. You also make me sick. ever sense I saw you I got the chills. I know that you will always will get me in troble for no reson and belive everyone when they are lying. you always give me a refurel for no reson. you treat us like we are preschoolers. you are the meanist teacher. Some of my friends hate you. You are the rudest teacher in the world. Also you are the mos boring teacher I have in the world. From your hater Bashful. P.S. Mr. K is cooler and more fun than you"
Many of us can relate. You have a story similar to this or remember a teacher that just the meanest of them all! If you ever thought that your teacher was out to get you, in any way, in your mind you wrote and re-wrote many of these letters.
Here is my dilemma. How do you punish your special needs child for finally listening to your advice? When faced with a difficult situation in which he felt powerless, where he did not think his voice was clearly being heard, when he was frustrated, when he was certainly angry... he took his emotions and put them down on paper. He admitted that is what he did. We applaud him for that as for years, TSS's, family therapists, behavior therapists and the Prince and I have been encouraging him to journal his feelings and emotions when he is angry. The part I suppose that we missed in our encouragement is the step that involves what to do AFTER your put your pencil to paper and you get all your feelings in writing.
After he wrote his letter, signed his name, added his PS for dramatic flare and sighed because he felt better, he just left the note behind. Not on purpose you see, quite by accident, because as you know, many who have special needs, the saying is true "out of sight really is out of mind".
That is until your parents show you a copy of your feelings and your unkind words, in an email, from the "fat rat" teacher. Whom you have already moved on from, forgotten about, and have minimal remembrance of what had you so rip roaring mad in the first place.
To wrap things up, here is what we hope the take away lesson for Bashful is in this:
1) We are not always going to get along with everyone in our lives, but we must be respectful, and obedient to those in authority above us. This is not negotiable as a member of this household.
2) When we are overwhelmed, writing is a great way to express our frustration and emotions.
3) When we put things down on paper we MUST be careful to place that in a safe place or tear it up and throw it away. Once the words are out there(written or spoken) in anger they can not be undone. Feelings get hurt, trust gets broken and relationships suffer.
4) You may feel alone, but you are never alone. Even on your worst terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, Christ is with you. He loves you more than a parent, more than a teacher, more than a friend and will never leave you!
5) Always tell your mom and dad when you are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day so that they can come along side you and help you negotiate your feelings and your frustrations in the moment, not days later.
6) Lastly, be willing to own your mistakes. Be willing to claim your part in the process. Be willing to help solve the problem at hand. Be gracious in extending an apology and humble in seeking forgiveness.
I never thought that Bashful was articulate enough to pen such a letter. Clearly when his adrenaline is pumping he is a very succinct in his thoughts and his writing. I sometimes wish I could, but as you all know, I Really Can't Make this Stuff Up!