Ooooooooh boy! Almost from the first day of school, Daffy struggled to balance her time in the afternoon to allow for homework. She cried, fought us and flat out refused to do her work. She even went so far as to FORGE my name in her planner to indicate she had done the work when she had not. (For those of you wondering, her artistic talents were put to good use… she did quite a nice job on the forgery, LOL)
About a month ago, I received a call from the vice principal indicating that she had gotten into a fight on the bus with 2 boys. She had clocked them over the head with a metal water bottle, thrown food at them and swore. The vice principal was not aware of Daffy’s status as a foster child which only complicated the situation when she asked if anything was “bothering” Daffy and Daffy shared that she was being adopted and wished she could live with her birth mom even though she knew that we were the right family for her. The vice principal was baffled and Daffy ended up feeling like her privacy was violated under the barrage of questions that followed from this administrator. The vice principal and I exchanged a few phone calls and emails after the fact and I thought things were back on track.
Three days later, I received a call from the vice principal again. This time, she asked that I come pick Daffy up from school as she was being suspended. I was mortified as she explained that Daffy had brought 3 knives to school which clearly violates school policy. She also let me know that the police had been contacted. I was pretty freaked out. I called our sw (who was out of town at a seminar) and our cw (who was off for the day) and then headed across town to pick Daffy up. My mind was racing thinking of all the things I have learned about kids with trauma and how I should deal with this situation. I walked into the school and was sent immediately to the vice principal’s office where there was a police officer waiting. Without giving him too many details, I did share some of what Daffy was feeling as the days drew closer to adoption. Daffy was called into the office and sat in shamed silence as the officer told her that she would be arrested and brought to jail if she brought knives to school again. (Honestly, I felt this was a little excessive on his part considering Daffy had no intent to harm anyone.) Anyway, Daffy and I left in silence. I drove about a mile and pulled over by the lake. I got out of the car without saying a single word, Daffy following me, and walked over to a picnic table overlooking the lake. I started with something like “Let’s hear it!”…. Daffy stayed silent and tears began to build in her eyes. I put my arm around her and told her that I would always love her but that her behaviors were unacceptable. Daffy began to sob and managed to say “I thought you wouldn’t love me anymore!“… I held her for a while while she cried, reassuring her that there was nothing she could do that would make me not love her. We talked about how important it is to be safe, to follow rules and how to stand up to peer pressure. It was a tough lesson for Daffy, but I think it turned out to be one of those defining moments where we passed the “test”, getting to prove our devotion to Daffy.
I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next since there were still 3 weeks left for her to “test” us before the adoption but thankfully this was the the peak of her behaviors. Daffy has now settled in nicely to school and homework is much less of a struggle.