"Fun" at tennis

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Marguerite, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I mentioned this in passing in the morning thread.

    difficult child 3's friend wasn't available for their weekly tennis game (= 'hit balls around the court at random' game) so I took him down to the tennis teacher who has a game in the next court and let him play with her class. He did well (she knows about his autism) and towards the end of the class some older girls turned up who are former classmates of difficult child 3's from primary school (primary = elementary plus a bit more).
    However, before then the younger kids were playing and I did wonder if one or more of thme included the kids who had attacked difficult child 3 not quite 2 years ago. Then I heard the kid called by name - an unusual name. And the kid's behaviour - the tennis teacher had warned me about this kid, said he was a behaviour problem "but good at heart, really". THis kid suddenly began to misbehave a lot more, I wondered if he had suddenly recognised difficult child 3 (who has grown a lot in 2 years but whose mannerisms are unchanged). Recognising him then feeling guilty/anxious/angry/confused - who knows? He began hitting extra tennis balls but the teacher has a rule - one ball in play at a time. She threw this kid and another off the court for five minutes, but the difficult child wouldn't come back on, he began to get noisy then he began padlocking the court gates, locking us all in. I knew the padlock key was in the teacher's bag which was in with us (I had also moved my bag in with us) so I knew not to worry. difficult child 3 began to panic a bit and to get a bit verbal with the difficult child. I was a bit worried when I saw the difficult child go into the shed (which is normally padlocked to keep vandals out). I was worried he would turn off the floodlights, which would have killed the training session, with us locked in the courts. The fuss of unlocking the gates, chastising the kid etc would have sabotaged everything. But thankfully he didn't think of it (or he couldn't find the switch in the dark).

    By now I was convinced that this kid was the one who had thrown the final big log at difficult child 3's head 2 years ago which had resulted in a trip to hospital to seal the cut. We had called the police, I know the kids involved (all six or seven of them) had been 'counselled' by the cops back then. As far as I am concerned, the case is finished. But it still is in difficult child 3's mind and I heard him mention something about, "I'm older now, nobody is ever going to hurt me again," so I worried that he also had recognised tis kid and was feeling some level of anxiety (despite the protestation).

    Meanwhile the kids played on, by now with some older girls difficult child 3's age who know him well. He felt safe with them and they are the 'good' kids who have always been kind to him. So have their parents.

    Finally it was time for us to go - parents had turned up to collect kids. But the difficult child fought over allowing the teacher to unpadlock the gates. She had given the key to difficult child 3 to open up because he wanted to get a drink of water from the bubbler, but instead of heading for the bubbler he shoved the gate hard at the difficult child. He later said that the difficult child was holding the gate shut so difficult child 3 had to shove harder to force his way out. I chastised him for that (gently) because as I said to him, "A kid like that - the harder you shove him, the harder he shoves back. Do I shove you? Do I force you verbally or physically? No, because all it will do is make you more stubborn and you will not learn anything. There are better ways and here you had two adults, including a teacher who was in charge. ALWAYS let the adult in charge be in control. You must learn to stay right out of it."
    I was being kind about it but still insisting. It also was said in front of the teacher, she is anxious about pushing him too hard with learning (life's lessons as well as tennis).

    I also said, "I think difficult child recognised you. Did you recognise him?"
    difficult child 3 said, "Yes, I knew his name because I hear teacher call him. And then I recognised him by his hair and his black shirt, so I knew his name to match how he looked."
    Talking a little more - difficult child 3 actually did NOT recognise him as the kid who attacked him (thank goodness). But I do think the kid recognised him. However, the teacher felt that the difficult child was misbehaving because he was angry that she had given him time out over hitting extra tennis balls around.

    He really wasn't doing anything that bad, but it could have been dangerous with some of the things he was doing. And if he is the same kid - he's a mess, with parents who aren't helping.

    But nnow I'm concerned. On the one hand, I've love to see difficult child 3 getting to know the difficult child in a supervised situaiton, where the difficult child can get to know that difficult child 3 is no threat. But seeing how they were interacting, they were increasingly getting on each other's nerves and it was getting worse.
    I talked to difficult child 3 about tihs, reminded him of his friend from school, J, who for the first year or so was VERY nasty to difficult child 3, always seeing the worst in him and being very reactive to difficult child 3's anxiety. About 18 months ago this boy suddenly changed (because his mother explained to him about difficult child 3's autism) and suddenly, J realised difficult child 3 was not having a go at him but in fact simple IS like this. Since then J has been 'shadowing' difficult child 3 and being like a big brother, very kind and supportive. It's changed J in other ways, realising that there are other ways of looking at things.

    This other difficult child is much younger, he'd be about 10 years old. He seemed to me to be a very severe, unmedicated ADHD. I really wish I could talk to him, but he's like a wild animal - scared, mistreated, snappy and unreceptive, I suspect.

    I don't want to drive this kid away from the tennis class because it is possibly the one thing that can help him. But I don't want difficult child 3 to miss out, he did well with his game tonight, the teacher said. It would also make my life a bit easier than our current arrangement - difficult child 3's best friend having a hit around the court every Friday isn't working out for me. The boys get on well, but the friend often invites other kids along (or the mother does) and some of them are difficult child and some are not. And I can never trust friend's mother to supervise. And unsupervised has been a disaster in past weeks because other kids have hassled them. I've been dragging myself down tere every week even when it's not my turn, because the other mother says, "Oh, they'll be fine on their own" even after agreeing to watch them. She figures, difficult child 3 is 15, then she toddles off to the pub nearby while the boys play.

    I wish I didn't have to be so protective, but difficult child 3 on his own learns bad social habits. difficult child 3 with me around isleft on his own until there's a problem, then I step in and resolve before it gets out of hand, and turn it into a positive lesson as discreetly as I can. We follow through later on at home with, "How better could you have handled that?" if we need to, but often all it takes for me is to bring his attention back to the game, and not to any other kid who is hassling him. Or sometimes I make a joke out of it and defuse a situation where difficult child 3 is beginning to get uptight.

    It needs careful handling, is what I'm saying. And friend's mother doesn't have the knack. Even though friend also has autism, he is mild and tey've muddled through well.

    We have some lovely kids in this town, but we also have some undisciplined ratbags as well. Prevention is better than bandaging up afterwards.

    So - any ideas? Should we push for difficult child 3 to permanently join the tennis class (and risk further exposure to this difficult child with possible difficult consequences for one or the other) or should I continue with the current, more private arrangement with difficult child 3's friend, with maybe just the occasional class with the teacher depending on circumstances?

    One good thing about this evening - it was 2 hours on the tennis court with another adult there. Despite the shenanigans, I felt much more relaxed than in previous weeks. It was certainly better than last week when difficult child 3 clobbered a little girl because she screamed piercingly at her mother, while standing right next to difficult child 3.

    Sometimes I'm just not quick enough...

  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Marge, I understand your concern. You are trying to foresee which decision would be in the best interest of difficult child 3.
    I think that if you can attend with difficult child 3 to the group tennis lessons until 1) difficult child 3 is comfortable enough to act appropriately 2)things don't work out, It would be a good thing for difficult child 3.
    I know I have to point out the life lesson in events that happen in our home or difficult child doesn't see the deeper meaning or emotions at hand.
    We had a big disappointment recently. While I was sharing with difficult child, his only thought was "were we mad". I explained that although disappointed and maybe sad that we don't let it make worse decisions to downward spiral our lives or take it out on the one's we love. An adult deals with some of this with their loved ones and keeps doing what one needs to do to be a responsible adult. We don't get to tantrum and moan to everyone who will hear us. I think those sort of teaching moments really help my difficult child to understand the world. We are sort of their interpreters for the world outside.

    It really does seem like there are a lot of wild hooligans who have no adult supervision in your little bit of heaven. I imagine this goes back to the days when husband and I were little where kids are expected to stay outside and unsupervised until dinner time. They are on their own to come up with activities and entertainment. Unfortunately, they are not always making good choices. I don't buy into "boys will be boys" as an excuse for bullying.

    Hope difficult child 3 decides he wants to continue to play tennis with a group since the girl's were kind. Let the good take precedence in his memory over the bad.

    If you see difficult child 3 doesn't seem to be assimilating and is acting out more and more, you can always remove him. I usually make it clear before hand what would constitute removal so he can work on those issues.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hi Marg--

    Tough call...if only our crystal ball were handy!

    I think I would let him try and stay in tennis class--and I would stay and supervise each class until I felt comfortable enough to see which direction things seemed to be headed. If it looked like things were going to work out OK between the two of them, I would feel more comfortable.... However, if it was clear after a lesson or two that there was going to be a continuing problem, I would then try to make other arrangements.

    Just my opinion...