Understanding the complexities of relatively new 'labels' is easy when it's someone elses kid. You don't have that golden chord, that connection, that unconditional love.
Picture the scene......It's the school holidays days out, sun, ice cream and general merriment, this particular day the child concerned woke up in a foul mood, there was no going out today, he wasn't in the mood, a quiet day in, DVD's and chocolate, a lazy day.
Breakfast was relatively uneventful until the cereal is poured onto the newly laid oak floor while the boy stares at his mother...wanting...willing a reaction.
Let's go back further as a baby this child was difficult to placate, tummy upsets, colic, restless, unbearably grumpy. Sleepless nights over take clear thinking for the parents...it's difficult.
Reception school sparks new behaviours, this child can't sit still, fidgety, distracted, little bit cheeky but very bright. As parents they look at the childs diet and make some changes, no more Robinsons juice, no more paper ham, only groovy stuff from now on....amazingly there is a change in the child, he is less fidgety and less distracted but the reality is that his reputation now precedes him and teachers know his name..it shouldn't happen, but it does, this boy will now be known as the one that can't settle and is a bit naughty. Let's be honest here kids have to be kids they will and have to be free enough to push boundaries and not be boxed in...let them graze their knees, eat mud, play with slugs. This child was trapped between fitting in and breaking out...he was quite a dark child, preferring at times to stay under covers for the day than want to go to the park, parents were concerned but tried their best to placate and find some happiness for their child.
So breakfast, cereal on the oak floor...the mother obviously reprimanded the child, any onlooker would have thought why is she not going mental??? Wouldn't have helped....
At primary school this child did well, quickly known as a 'character' he ticked all the right boxes, got his levels, did well in assessments and SATs...but something wasn't quite right...who were his friends, how did he interact with others, when will he throw his head back and really laugh? There were incidents of course...little Johnny may have said something to which this child reacted, not a fighter but a sense of justice greater than a justice minister, unfortunately though, it was his justice, slightly different to everyone elses.
That day was to be the darkest day for the child and the parents..once the cereal had been cleaned up the child watching from afar, went back into the kitchen and started to shout and shout and shout and shout...often obscene and disturbingly dark for 9 year old...he claimed he wanted to die, today he would die. His mother, alone with her child did not know what to do, he had often had emotional melt downs but this was different this was...real. She told him she loved him and not to be silly and made him a hot chocolate...with fire in his heart he threw the drink at his mum......
Primary school continued to be eventful but never enough for the parents to be called in, this child, the character was entertaining enough for staff not to bother, clever see, he waited, held it all in until his mum collected him from school and then the meltdowns would happen...crying and crying and crying. He ruled the house..parents often regaining order only to witness the dark side of their child return...pained and very very dark.
That day continued...his mum screamed as the hot drink touched her skin...the child, in fear, ran to his room, his mum left stunned and scalded in the kitchen. Her thoughts unclear but knowing she should not feed the fire she sat down and tried to gather her thoughts...she rang her husband...he was shocked but wasn't able to leave work...she needed him.
'I've called you in because your son ruined the test for everyone today....he refused to sit still and as a consequence left the hall, this really isn't acceptable....' said the classroom teacher to his parents....
That day....while running her arm under the cold tap she happened to look up and there on the window ledge stood her son, they had a glass roof on their newly fitted kitchen...her son was threatening to come through that roof...he balanced there...sobbing, teddy in hand. Emotions took over...she shouted, she didn't want to, she knew it could make it worse... she ran upstairs armed with a pack of sweets....she coaxed and bribed him back throught the sash window...she tried to cuddle him, she needed to feel her baby in her arms....he did not, could not respond. she tried to lock the window, shaking she managed to get her child downstairs, away from danger.......
Several more incidents at school and the parents asked to meet with his class teacher and the Head and ask them how they thought they could move forward and help their child...the response? They had to be more strict, they had to punish him more, they needed to realise that discipline was key.
That day continued....thinking the child's melt down was coming to an end his mum went out to hang the washing on the line.....without realising and as she turned around she was able to deflect the knife that was being thrust in her direction and grabbed his hands.....they both fell to the floor. Brute force stopped the child from escaping and they both just lay on the grass...knife glistening in the sun. He cried......she, unable to speak just held him. Some time later they both stood up, the child still wild reached for the knife and attacked the washing line, slicing through the plastic...his mother, distraught made the decision to walk away, he wanted the attention, she would take that away....it worked.
After being told their son needed more discipline the parents put into practice all manner of sanctions and punishments, naughty step and the money pot being the most useful until their child decided he didn't actually mind sitting on the step...would often just sit on the step and stare...he didn't care that his penny pot was being emptied because he had misbehaved. He continued to be sorry, he meant it, after it all calmed down, he would cry and feel terrible, he didn't mean what he had said.
That day....it worked until she asked him to come back inside....he ran into the kitchen and started to attack the wooden table with the knife... He stopped.... he was holding the knife to his throat, she grabbed at the knife and was lucky to get hold of it straight away....she was able to stop him. He was unrecognisable, his face was contorted with pain and confusion...she guided him to the front room sat him on the sofa and put a balnket around his rigid body and held him....it seemed like hours but it was only a few minutes...he had fallen asleep. Frightened and confused she didn't know what to do, she spoke to her husband again and between the tears begged him to come home......she rang the doctors, her doctor would ring her back and so she waited.....the phone rang it woke her child up...he stayed on the sofa...head under the blanket rocking and making an ungodly noise. 'Don't be ridiculous of course he's ok, if it happens again just ring the police that will sort his behaviour out....' she put the phone down.....alone she gathered her thoughts and rang the mental health crisis line...'No sorry you have to be referred, oh how old is the person you're concerned about? Oh no sorry we only deal with adults....thanks for calling though....good luck'.......'But I am scared my son will hurt himself, he will hurt himself, I need help...please help me....' 'You could try this number...' Never once was she scared for herself...her child was in turmoil.....
That day.....she rang the number and while they could not help her the receptionist listened, she allowed the mum to cry, she did not judge.....her son, still under the blanket had closed the curtains and was in darkness...as she got off the phone she found the strength she needed the strength her son needed...she sat next to him...not touching him she just sat there...strong.
To be continued......
That Day... Lali Puna
'The day I lost my head....'