Hoping we're not going to have trouble with difficult child 2's water polo coaches

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    When I picked up difficult child 2 from water polo practice yesterday he was VERY upset and telling me he wanted to "kill" everyone on his team (not in the literal sense, but he was just so angry). There seems to be a pattern with him where one day everything is just peachy with the other guys and the next day he's fit to be tied over some slight or comment -- and sometimes he's completely within reason for feeling the way he does and other times he seems to be overreacting.

    So he tells me that the day before, the assistant coach was making a list of players names and their grade level, and when he asked difficult child 2 for his last name and put it down, there was a mistake in the spelling that made a funny word. difficult child 2 says that when he tried to correct the spelling (and it sounded like he was annoyed at the humor everyone found in the error) he was told that this would be his new nickname. And despite his objections he claims he was told that was just too bad and that's what they would be calling him and everyone got a good laugh at his expense.

    Naturally, with his history of being bullied and ostracized, not to mention his mental health issues, he is VERY sensitive to ribbings from people he doesn't know that well. If it's someone he KNOWS is a good friend, or a family member, he can take it. Probably because he knows that there is an underlying love/respect for him that endures above all else. But with strangers, that's a much taller order and it really cuts to the core of his insecurities.

    Now this technically is a form of bullying, though some would argue it's not. But whenever you do something to someone that they don't like, that makes them stand out conspicuously from the group, and it's upsetting to them and they ask you to stop but you keep doing it? That's bullying. Being the Mama Bear that I am when it comes to stuff like this, I fired off a polite but succinct email to the head coach since I have no knowledge of how to contact the assistant, and addressed the issue, took time to explain briefly difficult child 2's challenges, and requested that they refrain from using nicknames without difficult child 2's expressed consent. I also asked for their patience with him because of the challenges he has and said how much he was looking forward to being part of this team.

    I did cc the school's Athletic Director (whom I know very well from my work on the exec board for the LAX team) because I felt that he should be aware of this kind of behavior, the school psychiatric (because she's working on updating difficult child 2's messed up IEP that was sent over from the middle school) and difficult child 2's counselor since I figured she should probably be aware of this first bump in the road.

    Within about an hour I got a call and from the head coach but had to let it go to our machine because I had company at the time. Later he also sent an email reply making sure I had his number, and I replied late last night after my guests left that I'd contact him today. Which I haven't done yet but am gearing up to do it.

    Hopefully he's on the same page and I don't get some kind of mamby pamby back pedaling that puts it all back on difficult child 2. This guy is a young 20-something who's barely out of high school himself, so we'll see how he faces this issue...
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Fingers crossed. In my experience Coach/Asst's are not very sensitive...it's the old macho thing that raises it's head. Do psychiatric yourself out before the call so you can have the right combo of direct and yet lighthearted. Those types of problems were the most irritating I faced with difficult child's. Often they just don't get it. Sending supportful hugs. DDD
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    How he faces issues is going to depend a lot on the home he came out of.
    If he has siblings or cousins or other family members with challenges... then even though he's "green", he'll listen.
    If he grew up in a "totally normal" setting with no issues or challenges... then you might have more challenge.

    I agree with it being bullying... although, I'm curious to know what the knickname was. Because you might also want to tackle difficult child from that particular perspective. If it really is a neat knickname... can it stick? can he learn to like it, use it, see how it pulls him into the team? Only if its the kind of handle that really is "positive" and "fun".
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    In this house... husband would be making the call. Some "macho" things just go over better that way - but you have to know who you are dealing with.
  5. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I don't necessarily think that it's bullying. This is how neuro-typical boys connect with each other. They were making a word play on his name, not calling him a bad word.

    Our family name can be shortened into a nickname. There is at least one famous person with this nickname.

    difficult child is called this name by most of his friends; they don't even ask for him by given name when they call. Youngest boy is occasionally called this name and he flips out. In 3rd grade, he had a meltdown when his teacher called him this name. He also flips out when we shorten his name. Assume, for instance, that his name is William or Edward. He flips if you say Billy or Will or Eddie. My daughter answers to the name as well and just laughs.

    I had to practice with my son having him say that he preferred to be called "William" and not Will or Billy. My oldest boy also preferred not having his name shortened, but he never reacted violently.

    Now, once the other kids actually know and have been told that your son does not like his "nickname" then, to me, it becomes bullying if they continue to do it. However, at this point, since they didn't know, I would assume that they were not coming from a mean place but just a bonding place.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well the phone call went fine. :whew: In fact, better than I'd expected considering how young this head coach is (graduated from HS in '08).

    We talked about a lot of things. As for the nicknaming, he said it was not meant in a mean spirit and the assistant did not pick up on difficult child 2 being that upset, though he did say he noticed that he made a face when he heard the name. The coach said everyone on the team was given a nickname -- so I suggested they let difficult child 2 choose his own. He thought that was a good solution, and later when I told difficult child 2 about it he seemed quite pleased.

    We talked about difficult child 2's issues in general and he said he wished I'd let him know sooner, such as during the summer camp in July or even the "Hell Week" last month. I said I'd been hoping I wouldn't have to bring it up, but clearly that was unrealistic. I explained about his immature social skills, the fact that he's got an IEP and gets help with this through the school, his emotional challenges, inattention, impulsiveness, etc. He said he would make sure to be more aware and sensitive to difficult child 2 moving forward and that he wants this to be a positive environment for all the players. We also talked about a possible mentor for difficult child 2 and he also liked that idea and would talk it over with the assistant (who is actually difficult child 2's coach).

    He concluded by inviting me to come by practice any time to observe, to talk to him about any concerns, etc. and that he is always available to talk. All-in-all, I think he handled it very maturely for someone his age -- I did not get a sense of ego getting in the way at all, which was a relief.

    So with that seemingly resolved, it reminds me I need to send out an email to the other teachers tomorrow since school starts on Tuesday. And while I'm at it, I should do it for difficult child 1 as well.
  7. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Yay! Glad it went well.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Phew/Whew! Glad it went well.

    On a silly note, our difficult child was asked for his nickname when he did cross country. He didn't have one so he said "Red".
    That has no relation to his hair color or complexion...or anything. It was really weird for us hearing the coaches referring to "Red". Took awhile to decide just to let it go. DDD
  9. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I'm glad it went well. Sometimes, younger adults are more sensitive because they've grown up with special needs kids in their classes. When I was growing up, special needs kids went to different schools.

    DDD's story reminded me of when we went to Open House for oldest boy. Although he's a strawberry blonde with blue eyes and I'm brown hair and eyed, he looks like me. The teacher looked at me and said "You must be Gandhi's mom." When I looked confused, he said: "Don't you call Oldest Boy Gandhi at home?" I had never heard that name before. He was Gandhi for that whole year, but only in his two favorite classes, and then he went back to his own name.