Family Life

Maybe the kid is (all!!??) right!

I get the dreaded call from my son's school and my imagination goes wild

The dreaded call from school.

“Hello, is that O’s dad? Are you free to talk?”

A sharp inhalation of panic.

(The first voice you will hear in your worried parent’s head will be wobbly, utterly unconvincing Little Internal Voice.

It’s probably nothing’, he wheedles,. ‘He forgot his maths copy or something’.

(‘SHUT UP, YOU SAP, THIS IS A JOB FOR BIG INTERNAL VOICE:

(‘WHAT HAS HE DONE? … HE’S BADLY HURT, ISN’T HE? … THE AMBULANCE IS ON ITS WAY … ’)

“Hi, this is X, your son’s form teacher … we’ve talked before …”

Regular Cagey But Calm Voice actually answers her.

“Oh, hi, yes …”

Yes, I got one of those Phone Calls From School last week.

I almost jumped up a few point sizes even typing that.

She had reprimanded O for swinging off a classroom door.

(‘Hah, is that all?’, said Little Internal Voice, ‘I’ve got this)

There was more.

She was worried about O. Said she thought she had seen a change in attitude recently … not himself … and even now when she was talking to him, his head was down, looking away from her.

(‘OH, OH …’)

I was worried.

I could break here into an abstract discussion about boy kids finding it difficult to express their feelings, or struggles. How this ties in with male anger, emotional inarticulacy, and the ultimate horror word

… SUICIDE

The thing it seems every father of every son worries about but doesn’t want to really talk about …

But I can only talk here of my own fears and what that phone call brought up for me.

Without revealing too much, two of the biggest rows I have had with O sprang from conflict situations he found himself in, both relating to his beloved football.

And boy were they big … my normal charming blond-haired delight of a boy became a snot-bubbling, F-ing and blinding dervish.

And me struggling to be calm, to contain this rage, but gripped by fear, feelings of utter inadequacy and against-all-the-text-books ANGER.

Interestingly both rows were not over the actual incidents themselves.

They erupted over my efforts the following day to bring up what had happened to help him work through dealing better with the emotions that had been unleashed in him.

He did not want to talk about them: they were over: internalised, dealt with, and HE HAD MOVED ON.

It’s what he does, you see. What he has always done.

When he was in primary school, himself and his sister went there by mini-bus, as the school was four miles away. We found out a couple of the older boys had been picking on him for some time.

Normal school-kid slagging, but bad enough for other kids to remark on it and for it to be ultimately brought to our attention. And to the school’s.

He had never said a word. The school got involved now and it was all handled very well.

The Mom of one of the kids told us what her boy and told her: ‘O doesn’t mind it, he never says anything, He doesn’t get upset.’

Which ‘insight’ reached right in and squeezed my heart and just scared me so.

Classic stuff, I thought, doesn’t express … files it all away

(… UNTIL ONE DAY HE EXPLODES … HURTS SOMEONE … HURTS HIMSELF … COMMITS SUI …)

So the choice, it seemed, is to leave him alone, let him work it out, in his own way, or intervene and help him put a name on all those powerful forces buffeting him in such situations, and having tamed them in the naming maybe, help him to deal with them in a healthier way. Talk to someone.

The second row, in particular, was like going cold turkey with a junkie. He roared, abused and generally let loose … it was The Exorcist meets Dr Phil. Well, a pretty unconvincing Dr Phil. Hoping my bumbling sincerity would overcome the inadequacies of my actual words.

When the emotional stuff subsided we talked about what had happened, how, as your parents, Mom and Dad have to know that you are all right, and that you will come to us if something is really bothering you.

All was calm and he agreed. It was easy to agree now, after the storm.

But knowing, as his Dad, he was filing this experience away too, moving on.

But this is important too: O has his own way of coping in stressful situations. This filing away, moving on, is actually very powerful.

Part of all this is me voicing my fears that his way is ultimately damaging, that he might explode one day. My fears. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’s got this.

Maybe his methods are getting more sophisticated.

For now, let me say that O had his own take on the swinging off the door incident in school.

He reckoned it was no big deal, and he told me, that while the form teacher is lovely, she was overreacting and he just said nothing, let her have her say. Filed it way and moved on.

Ultimately, I have to trust that O can handle these situations, deal with all the swirling, whirling emotions, file the experience away and, yes, move on.

He might be right …

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41 comments on “Maybe the kid is (all!!??) right!

  1. Just stumbled across your blog through the Global Blogging hash tag.

    Great post about feelings in our kids minds. My boy is only 9 so a couple of years behind yours but these things are getting to me already. I suppose it’s a trust thing to a certain extent. But also we need to press these issues a little more to make sure it’s not affecting them too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I worry about the emotional side of things too.. and my pair are still in the epic tantrum stages where they’re more than happy to let it all out! Keeping control of your own emotions is so difficult in the face of theirs. I’m sure O will ultimately appreciate your efforts whether you feel they’re helping or not. At least he knows you care enough to try.

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  3. emptynestmummy

    A great post. I’m going to file it away and read it when the kids are older, and angst-ridden! #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s tough isn’t it? Beautifully written – so much humour in an otherwise worrying post. You are so right, at the moment we just don’t know what will happen, how they will turn out, because in spite of our best efforts, stuff happens that we can’t control. I sometimes feel I am merely the caretaker of these precious lives for a brief time so I must love them deeply and enjoy the time while I can. The rest I need to let go of. #LGRTStumble

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can really relate to this Enda. Raising my boy I was constantly (over) thinking his moods and his reactions to negative or difficult situations and then my own anxieties would link them to terrifying news stories such as teen suicides. Parental guilt and worry never goes away. We have to entrust we have raised our kids with the tools to deal with life when all we really want to do is protect them from it #lgrtstumble

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi I think we are singing from the same hymn sheet. I know only too well my own anxieties are in there and that ultimately I have to trust that he can handle these vagaries. But there is also the real fear that something big might come along and the old coping mechanisms not work..and I would like to be in a position to help then. We can but hope it never comes to that. Thanks for your comment

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  6. I feel your pain, I went to collect my son from school one afternoon, the head teacher came over and said Mrs.Dennis, I have done something awful, sorry, thinking that maybe she had killed my child, then she went on, I have passed your name onto a new parent who needs a child minder! #triamphanttales@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is so hard isnt it? my little brother is ten years younger so when he was going through secondary school I felt older and wise enough to attempt to help him emotionally. It’s hard to know when to leave them to it and deal with it the way they want to and think is best, but also getting enough out of them to help it not lay on their conscious too much!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Yes it really can be hard. You would think it would be obvious to seek help if something is bothering you, but that, I have learned, is not how my boy rolls!

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  8. At the beginning of Year 3 my 7 year old just totally went to bits. It got so bad at home we had to get the school involved. With some help and support we discovered that he had childhood anxiety. Despite his good behaviour at school his teacher just accepted what we were saying and helped us help him understand what was going on. It is amazing how much they go through at such a young age. Since discovering this we have been able to help him with all sorts of difficult situations which we had always assumed was just really bad behaviour. It is always right to scratch the surface with our children so that they know we are open to dialogue. I’ll be popping back to your blog again in the future #dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is absolutely vital to get beyond the surface, especially with kids not given to sharing this kind of thing. But it ain’t easy!! Thanks for your insight and comment

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  9. Daydreamer mum

    This was a bit of a tummy wrencher for me . My eldest went through a bit of a mental health blip and ALL I could think was suicide ….teenage boys kill themselves rather than talk ….I just felt so helpless. We seem to be coming through the other side but I think I’ll be forever panicky #tweensteensbeyond

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It really is scary isn’t it? All we can do, I guess, is keep watching for the little signs and as delicately as possible assert the need for us to know if anything is going on. However unwanted by our boys.

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  11. It’s so hard … There’s a fine balance between making sure they’re okay and over-thinking it because you fear The Worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Those phone calls should come with health warnings, shouldn’t they! ‘Can I have a word’ and ‘we need to talk about’ are guaranteed to take a few years off our lives, I’m sure. Totally get you here, I had ‘the call’ just last week, different matter but nevertheless – off goes the parenting mind. Always the fears. I hope this one resolves itself and thank you for joining us at #tweensteensbeyond this week. We hope that you will join us again.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. There is no doubt it’s a minefielld it’s so difficult at time great read Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I can only believe that your son will be an epic adult. You show such compassion and even temper when dealing with issues. Some parents scream, others completely ignore, but you handle each situation as needed. And sometimes what’s needed is to watch and wait. #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I did respond with an even temper to certain situations. I have a tendency to fly off the handle at times. But the nicest thing our boy ever said about me was to his Mom: “Dad can be a bit dramatic but his heart’s in the right place”. I’ll take that! Thanks for commenting Heather

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I have three daughters Enda, but I have also triggered anger when I tried to talk about a situation when they were not ready to talk about it. I forced the issue and it went badly. More productive conversations have been had when they instigated the conversation, often at a time that was highly inconvenient to me. But, I just put the car keys down, took off my coat and missed the appointment. I guess all we can do is be ‘available’ in both the physical and emotional sense. Thanks so much for sharing your thought-provoking post at #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, timing is vital when it comes to these attemped interventions. I suppose a major factor however is I would often be waiting for a very long time for our boy to instigate. It’s taken a hell of a long time to open him to the possibility that it’s not okay for the bad guys to get at him and there are safe procedures for dealing with these things. I get it wrong and, boom, combustion and the defensive drawbridge is up. If I’m not mixing my metaphors!! Thanks so much for yiur considered comment

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  16. Oh man. We think it is so difficult when they are little but I have yet to reach this stage. You are so right when you say we have to trust that we have taught them and let them deal with these situations having trust that they know what they are doing. #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Alice Letters to my Daughter

    The bigger kids get, the more of a mystery they are. My sister in law is 15 and will only talk about her feelings to her friends and her counsellor. Would O talk to someone else? So many kids these days see a school counsellor, I don’t think it has the same stigma as it used to, and it’s a good lesson in prioritising mental health. good luck! #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you are saying … but he doesn’t engage on that level … he’s not closed down or anything; he’s a personable articulate kid … just not one to gild the lily – unlike his blogger dad!!! We are watching and, so far, he is doing okay overall. We have to trust. Thanks for your interest and thoughtful comment

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  18. Sound perfectly normal to me to be honest. It is good to be aware of these emotional possibilities and it can be hard as parents to let go enough to let the kids learn to deal with their emotions. Some people do inwardly compartmentalise. Sometimes it may not be healthy but sometimes it is. There can be a whole thought process involved that because it isn’t verbalised you can’t understand. Be mindful and be aware but trust he needs to learn how to manage his own emotions and he’ll be just fine. We can’t all be ok with talking about our feelings, sometimes we just don’t want to or need to.
    Thank you for joining #ThursdayTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kirsty, I have to agree with just about everything you said there. It is both a defence and a sophisticated way of dealing with things. And we are all different. Thanks so much for your insightful words

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  19. Getting inside their heads, their thoughts and encouraging the power of voice is so difficult. Wonderful post. #LGRTstumble xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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