Hello again

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello again to all on the forum and I hope you have had some moments of respite and relaxation over the summer...
    We are now back in France where it was the first day back to school today - a big event for parents and children. J seemed excited and happy and was pleased to be back, unlike some of the other kids who looked very sad and/or dazed...
    I left J for four weeks with my ex husband, his new wife and mother in Morocco - far longer than he has ever been left before - while I went to the UK to teach. Didn't want to leave him but it was a case of needs must. I really don't know if I did the right thing and suspect I did not. I feel guilty about it. It's part of Moroccan culture that parents hit children all the time to discipline them - I had tried to speak to my ex about this before I left J, explaining that this was not good for kids like J (he has no knowledge or understanding of ADHD of course, nor does he want to find out) and I had thought he had accepted it... but no. Turns out he has been hitting J regularly as punishment. A lousy move when you also consider that J has not spent much time with his father and this was really a voyage of discovery for them both. J was quite hostile towards my ex-husband when I came to get him and there really didn't seem to be much love lost between them. I can see that J's grandmother is, however, very attached to and fond of him. J was beginning to speak Arabic (a third language - too much?!) and to get used to the way of life in Morocco but he has said many times since that he prefers France and wants to be with me... He says (quite sensibly) that he doesn't like Morocco because they hit children there... I have written to my ex-husband saying that what happened was unacceptable and traumatic for J. I don't think he will be able to understand because hitting kids is so much part of his cultural norm. Stupid of me to think that he would agree to change...
    He was angry with me, understandably, for a couple of days after - some big rages, including hitting me. But then he calmed down and has been largely sweet and amenable since. He has grown up SO much... his thinking is far more sophisticated than it was (despite endless TV watching in Morocco :) ) and we now have long, rational conversations that go in the same direction - a first. Still difficult when he hears the word "no" but seems more ready to co-operate after explanations. So things seem okay for the moment but... I'm not naive enough to think things have somehow all calmed down and gone away.
    So until the next crisis... :)
  2. Rainbird

    Rainbird New Member

    I don't know your whole story but I amglad things are going well despite the hitting at his fathers house.
  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    On the good side, you're now less likely to get that whole "grass is greener I wanna live with dad" stuff from him when he gets angry at you. Glad he's back home and looking forward to school. Today was a holiday for kids here.
  4. MuM_of_OCD_kiddo

    MuM_of_OCD_kiddo New Member

    What a great opportunity to use what he has experienced in Marocco [getting hit for punishment] in explaining in a rational way why hitting you [or others] at home is not nice/acceptable/whichever terms you tend to use and why it is not right to hit. I'd totally take that and run with it. If he tends to get too angry to reach at the time, be sure to use the example both during the incidents as well as afterwards talking about it - again and again. He will get that, even if he cannot control himself at the moment it happens.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Welcome back... wondered where you'd gotten to!
    Thanks for the update.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am glad you are back but wouldnt worry about getting spanked at his fathers house damaging his psyche at this age. Many people even here punish with spankings with 4 year olds so it doesnt send them all into therapy or turn them into mass murderers.
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all your comments. Yes, Janet - but the thing is it is more than just spankings in Morocco. He was being hit with a stick. And then, above and beyond all the corporal punishment debate, it is kind of crazy-making when it is suddenly imposed on him, from someone he knows little and who is not sure really loves him. It has done their relationship real and perhaps lasting damage. Yes, great idea to use his comments about it all to underscore why hitting is not desirable...
    This morning he didn't want me to go when I left him school, was clinging on to me and crying - though I'd say it had more of theatre in it than real emotion. The other kids look at him as though he is really strange when he does this... The teacher also wanted a quick word. She said she has read the book I left her before the summer (and made notes, she said :) ) and suggests that we do an IQ test for J before we meet up with the child psychiatrist. She says she remains sceptical about the ADHD diagnosis as she doesn't recognise him from many of the criteria laid down in the book... While also saying he was quite difficult to manage at times and that she had to be "after him" all the time yesterday to get him to do things. All this just strengthens my belief that conventional school is not going to be the best option for J and that the more he goes on in the system, the more reluctant he is going to be and the harder work for the teachers... He needs to be interested and stimulated to learn and to concentrate. I am investigating alternative schools (which will involve a move) from autumn 2012.
    Feel like I'm getting back into the saddle with him. He is so sensitive to criticism and being talked to negatively - always has a disastrous effect. It's as if I have to find the right tone and language with him all the time. If I do this, he will be good-humoured and co-operative. If not...
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    From what you described of the previous school year, I tend to agree with you about the likelihood that an alternative school will work better for him. As for the hitting in Morocco - I noticed with my sisters' kids that they quickly learned that the rules were different in mum's house compared to grandma's, and they'd better do what grandma said! There was sometimes a brief adjustment period but consistency worked, they soon adapted well to each change of location. If grandma says shoes must be left at the door, for example, the kids learned to automatically leave their shoes at the door - only at grandma's.

    In the same way I suspect J will soon realise that life with his dad in Morocco has one set of rules, and life with mum in France has another set of rules. And actually, if he can handle this it will help him understand adaptability.

    Good to hear back from you!

  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Marg. :) How is life with you in your (far) corner of the world? Yes, it would be good to think that J can cope with these differences in the longer term - at the moment I'm feeling like both he and his adoptive father do not particularly want to see each other again... My ex husband told me he had found him very difficult, aggressive, oppositional, etc - without knowing what went on in detail, I would imagine that being hit was making J far more oppositional and difficult. My ex's mother, on the other hand, spoke about J being adorable, helpful, etc (though very hyperactive).
    I have discovered a school called "The Forest School" which is in a big town on the western coast of France. It is set in acres of woodland and some of the curriculum takes place outside, taking care of animals, gardening and discovering nature. As a nature lover, I think this would suit J down to the ground. It is private but under contract to the state, which usually means they are not very expensive. Property in that town is very expensive and I wouldn't be able to buy there - would have to rent a small flat and then try to buy somewhere out in the country where we would go on weekends. Could work. It would be so good if J could be in a school environment where he isn't in some sense being forced into a hole that is the wrong shape for him - guess we can all recognise that feeling?
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That school sounds lovely. Renting in the area would also give you the chance to pull the plug and move back if the school did not work out for any reason.

    I'll have to update separately, we have news but I don't want to hijack your thread.

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wondered where you'd gone :) Welcome back. I think it could end up a positive thing. Like you said and others have said, you can incorporate this into teaching him about hitting and how it hurts people.