This morning while I was still in bed, groggy and sleepy and Ruby was doing her damnedest to coax me out of bed by bouncing on me and shouting "GET UP" in my face, we finally managed to snuggle down for a cuddle.
Then, out of the blue she told me something which came like a slap in the face to me. She said that a boy at her nursery had been hitting her. Further conversation lead to her telling me that he hits her 'lots of times in the face and it hurts'. I asked what she had done when he hit her (hoping to God she didn't say she hit him back!). She said she cried.
And what did the teachers do I asked. They didn't know she replied.
The thought of my little girl crying, hurt and upset in some lonely corner of the nursery garden nearly broke my heart. Swallowing down my initial reactions (which shockingly seemed to involve wanting to do the same back to this boy myself, and possibly his mother), we cuddled and I told her I would speak to her teachers, but if it ever happened again she must tell them straight away.
I asked her who the boy was - not that it particularly mattered who he was, but I wanted to be sure she could identify who the problem was with. She told me a name, but it wasn't one I recognised. I have no idea if he's new, how often he attends, how old he is, or anything about him. She's never mentioned him before.
Since starting at 'big nursery' a few months back, we've had an ongoing battle at home trying to counteract bad behaviour and habits she's started with. Has she picked these up from other children? Maybe. Probably. But I guess all kids and parents go through this when their little ones start mixing in a wider circle. We've had several conversations about how it's not ok to hit/kick/spit/speak to mummy like that.
Dropping her off today, she was clingy, quiet and clutching her tummy - another recent trait she seems to have adopted every time she doesn't want to do something.
I spoke to one of the teachers. She didn't seem surprised when I told her, nor was she surprised at the name. "We are aware of the situation with this child" she said - although they clearly weren't aware that Ruby had been hit. She apologised for that but informed me that the child in question has special needs and is receiving one-to-one support in nursery.
Well, I'm sorry, but it's not very good bloody one-to-one support if he can repeatedly hit a 3 year old in the face and it goes completely unnoticed! Where were they??
The staff member didn't go into details with me (presumably for reasons of confidentiality?) but she explained to Ruby that the boy doesn't mean to hurt anyone. It's just that he doesn't speak and sometimes he can only communicate by hitting out.
She them said to me that this particular boy is somewhat of a 'whirlwind' and the children often hear his name being called out by staff. Therefore, his name is quite often the one that children will latch onto when they have a problem.
Dilemma! I completely understand how difficult this must be for the boy and his parents for that matter. I've talked to parent's of children with special needs and hear about the problems of labelling, the shunning and exclusion from groups, and the fact that 'difficult' children are sometimes turned into scapegoats.
On the other hand, my daughter is not a tell-tale. She doesn't tell lies. It's taken her over 2 weeks to confide in me that this is happening.
Now. What am I left feeling? Whatever the issues this child is dealing with (I don't know the full details of his needs), it's not ok that my child is getting hit. It's never ok surely?
Another mum at the nursery told me her son was being punched by a child. She told me she'd raised it with the staff but it's still happening. I don't know if it is the same child involved or not, but if it is are they really dealing with this?
I guess all I can do is keep talking to Ruby and hope that it doesn't happen again. It's a difficult lesson to teach a 3 year old though, that's it's bad to hit others, but that this child does it and he can't help it and doesn't mean it.
Do you have any thoughts or advice for me?