Jay left his sandwich at home and as one would expect – it spiraled out of control and affected everyone in his path like a tornado.
At 7:00 am a phone call came in informing Shaunie that Jay had left his sandwich at home and he was already eating his snacks.
Since she was already at work (40 minutes away) and she was in the middle of an audit, she said she was sorry but no she would not be able to go back home and bring it to him.
I was an hour away and it was the last day of the month (my busiest time) so it’s a good thing they didn’t even bother to call me.
Shaunie called to tell me about it and we both agreed that he’d have to suck it up and just get something from the cafeteria.
At 9:06 am, we got an email from his general ed class teacher saying:
Jay came in today with an empty lunch bag and said that he already ate his lunch this morning. I went ahead and had him make a lunch choice (meaning she had him choose something from the cafeteria menu) so that he at least has something to eat at lunch time. I know that his tastes are limited so we’ll see what we can find for him, but I just wanted to let you know!
I thanked her for that and continued working.
At 12:30 pm we got another email. This time from the special ed teacher saying:
This morning, when he was in [his morning program], I heard him screaming at someone. When I went down to see what was wrong, he didn’t want to say anything. It was clear he had been crying because he had dried tears on his face. I had him come to the resource room to calm himself. He made it to his gen ed class on time but came back saying that he needed a break. He has been in the resource room a few times this morning and continues to say that he is having a bad day. I explained to him that everyone has a bad day and I asked him again if he wanted to talk about it. He just said that he doesn’t want to go back to [his morning program]. I am still not sure what happened because he won’t say. Hopefully he will let you know what happened.
I let her know about his missing sandwich and of his gen ed teachers offer of a cafeteria lunch and continued working.
She replied saying:
We offered him snacks from the resource room this morning and that seemed to calm him for a little while. But he came back and said that he needed a break. We tried to get him to eat more but he didn’t want anything else and he said that he didn’t want to go to the cafeteria. I told him that I was going to email you because I didn’t know what was going on. He asked if he had to apologize and I told him no, he didn’t do anything to me. I was just trying to see why he was upset. I hope he has a better night. I am going to check on him before I leave in a few minutes.
His teachers are so patient with him and I truly appreciate that. I know it must be especially difficult on his gen ed teacher when he has an off day. There is no way that him going back and forth to the resource room is not a disruption in her class.
When I came home he was still visibly upset and didn’t want to talk to me and just stood against the wall hugging himself.
I was gentle.
First I asked him if he’d had dinner as yet.
Then I asked him to come and sit with me. I asked him how his day had been to which he of course responded that it had not been a good day. I asked him to explain why and after going around many circles: I was upset. But why? Because I was angry. What made you angry? I was yelling. Who were you yelling at? My teacher. Why were you yelling? I was mad. OK, what were you so mad about? I wasn’t having a good day. What made you have a bad day? I was crying.
This is how our conversations go. It takes time, but we get there.
Eventually after our many circles and him coming up with many reasons (none of which were the real problem) he finally blurted out “I left my sandwich at home.”
I told him that I understood that he was upset and that he had been hungry. Then I asked him if his teachers had tried to help. He said yes. I asked him if they offered him food from the cafeteria. We had another very round about conversation until after a while, with a choked up voice, he said “But I can’t get something from the cafeteria because it’s not free in there and I didn’t have any money. I can’t just take it.”
Now – Truth be told, all along I was feeling more sorry for his teachers than him but at this point you know I felt bad. The poor kid didn’t understand that even without money his teachers would have found a way to get him lunch and then we would have settled the score later. Even though they had offered it to him, he still assumed he couldn’t get lunch so he went hungry all day.
We hugged it out on the couch and then he went upstairs to write apology letters to his teachers for his behavior. I knew then that I had my own letter (email) to write. I don’t expect that he will forget his food again any time soon, but with the help of his amazing teachers, we will come up with a plan – just in case.
He closed his day harassing his brother and dancing in our room and went to sleep with a smile and a full tummy. All’s well that ends well.