Listen to the things that aren’t said

When working with kids you need to listen.  Not just with your ears but with your eyes and shit.  Kids are talking to you using the only things they know.  Sometimes it’s different cries (a parent with newborns will confirm this), their actions, the actual words they say and all the words that they don’t say, or more importantly, the words that they don’t know.

Take the 5 year old who called me a Motherfucker when I stopped him from climbing out a window. He was pissed off and trying to leave, something we’ve all done at some point, and the name calling was his way of letting me know how angry he was.  As an adult I’ve been angry enough that I could not even begin to express the depth and breadth of what I was feeling.  That was some upsetting shit.  Now imagine being 5 and not having the language necessary to tell someone that you need a break from them because of how upset you are.  You’re going to remember the words you’ve heard adults use to upset each other and use them, hoping that you’re message gets across.  I spend a lot of time hoping and dreaming that parents are not saying motherfucker in front of their kids, knowing full well that, yes, they are. I work with a kid who is on the autism spectrum and has a really hard time formulating his thoughts into words, among a number of other equally frustrating and entertaining things.  When he gets upset (sometimes not even when he’s upset) he tries very hard to bite me or anyone nearby. He doesn’t bite me because he wants to hurt me, he bites because that’s how he can tell me that he doesn’t like something that’s going on.  He’d be genuinely surprised and confused if I asked him why he was trying to hurt me.

Kids and people in general will never cease to stun and amaze me.

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