Friday, August 21, 2015

When Flora told a fig about a ball

On the days I go to work E goes to after school care. The first month was a big success, with her whinging and wailing about having to go home with the grandparents when they arrived at 5pm. 

Then last Wednesday, when D's Dad arrived to collect E, one of the carers said to him "I have to tell you there was a bit of an incident today, E threw a ball rather violently." She didn't give any further detail, like if she threw the ball at another child or at a window, just that she threw a ball. E overheard this and immediately started denying having thrown a ball and rapidly worked herself into hysterics over it and so they left without any resolution. We repeated the same conversation when we arrived home, with a similar result; she was hysterically adamant she had not thrown a ball, nothing had happened with a ball and "Flora is telling figs."  However, she also insisted that we were not to talk to Flora about it (usually a sign she is not being truthful) and that she did not want to back there (because of Flora's "figs"). 

We were somewhat bemused as to what to do - it didn't seem likely that Flora would have completely invented the incident, or that she would have mistaken another child for E as there were only a handful of kids there. D's parents also said that they did not mind if E did not go to after school care on Wednesdays (on Wednesdays they look after C at our house. We initially booked E into after school thinking that they might wish to have C at their house rather than ours, and also that E would enjoy spending more time with kids her own age). We didn't come to any decision but hoped, somewhat optimistically/ridiculously that E might have forgotten about it by the next morning.

No mention was made of it before school and when I arrived to collect E that afternoon I managed to arrive a few minutes early and asked Flora what had happened. She said that E had thrown a bowl. Courtesy of Flora's rather bogan Aussie accent, D's Dad must have misheard her and thought she said ball. Apparently it was a china bowl and E hurled it to the ground, whereupon it shattered. Flora seemed more worried that I would be angry about the safety issues of a child care facility proving china bowls than about E having broken the bowl. I was planning on talking to E about it once we got home but she immediately asked "did you tell after school care I'm not going back" so we had the conversation then. She initially denied anything had happened with a bowl but then burst into tears and said "I didn't know it was china, Mummy." 

More tears, more anxiety about being in trouble if she went back - despite being stubborn and mischievous and challenging at home, E is usually very well behaved at school and has never been seriously told off by anyone outside the family before. She still didn't want to go back. We had a big discussion about how, just because you have one bad day or experience, that doesn't mean you should give something up. I promised to telephone Flora the next day and explain that E didn't know the bowl was china. I also tried to impress upon her that she should have told us that nothing happened with a ball, but there was a problem with a bowl and that we would have helped her resolve it, and paid for the bowl if necessary, and that she should always always tell us her problems. She very reluctantly agreed to try after school care again the next day.

I was so relieved, and somewhat overwhelmed myself. It felt like we had learnt significant lessons about perseverance, and telling the truth. I felt a bit ashamed I had been skeptical of E's claims that nothing happened with a ball (strictly true - although D reckons I am being ridiculous and that she was being evasive to try and avoid getting in trouble for something she knew was wrong). It also feels a bit like the thin edge of the wedge and what people say about "bigger kids, bigger problems." This wasn't such a huge problem in the end, but it makes me worry about the even bigger issues of future years and makes me reallyreallyreally hope that E will tell us about them before they escalate, and that if she didn't believe it before, she now knows we will always support her.

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