What a bizarre Monday it has been. This morning was going really smoothly (something I think we should all be suspicious of on a Monday), as most school mornings have done lately, until about five minutes before we were due to leave.
I was cramming my marketing notes into my handbag when Sprog piped up from the living room doorway that she’d like me to tidy her hair so that she could wear a headband. I turned around to see her holding the jewelled bridal headband that I had bought her (in a sale!) for a big do a while back. I explained that she couldn’t wear it to school; it’s not exactly low-key enough and if it got broken or lost or the jewels fell off, she would be upset. I asked her to pick a different one, and then I would do her hair.
In less than 0.2 seconds, all hell broke loose.
Sprog’s entire headband collection hit my living room floor. It was followed by the contents of her book bag (books, letters, snotty bits of tissue, a full water bottle, you name it) and her boots – flung directly off her feet. Then her angry six year old form hit my sofa hard enough to move it, wailing, “I don’t even want to go to school now! I want THAT headband!!!”
As you can imagine, I was a little taken aback. My kid’s no angel, but a tantrum about a headband? I thought we grew out of those two years ago! I went through my mental checklist, trying to understand her meltdown. Enough sleep last night? Check. Good mood until now? Check. Breakfast eaten? Check. I couldn’t see any underlying reason for the explosion, so I sat patiently waiting for it to blow over. Twenty minutes later we left for school – with yet more yelling from Sprog as she realised she would be late – and she stomped all the way there.
I felt relieved upon dropping her off. The most frustrating part was that it was such a nonsensical thing to create about. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there most have been something more pressing driving the fit than a headband, and spent half of my morning at work awaiting a phone call from school to say she was ill. Perhaps that would explain the jekyll and hyde behaviour.
No phone call came, but when the classroom door opened at pickup time and she was marched towards me by her key worker, I knew something was up. All manner of things went through my head; had she had an argument with someone? A fight? Had she thrown a tantrum at the teacher, too?
I held my breath as the key worker explained. They had needed to have a chat about her tantrum, and her bringing things into school to give as “presents”. I was lost. “No the tantrum that made us late was about a headband,” I replied, puzzled. “Yes, it had to be that headband so that she could give it to her friend.” the key worker explained. “Oh. Yes we’ve had a chat about that before.” I muttered, realising that this would be the next constant-nagging-argument I had with Sprog. Only it wasn’t.
The key worker told me how various hair accessories, beads, pens and jewellery had been trafficked to school in my daughter’s bag, socks and boots, all to be given as “presents” to one child. One child who had been threatening my daughter that if she did not bring “presents”, they could no longer be friends. If she did not provide “presents”, this child had threatened to turn other children against her, and get her in trouble with the teacher. I was horrified. Key stage one blackmail. No wonder my poor daughter had gone nuclear when I denied her the sparkly headband this morning.
I’ve been assured by the school that the issue will be handled, and I have reassured my daughter that friends who only want “presents” aren’t our real friends at all. In fact, they are bullies, and she should make new friends. Still, I’m a little mortified at how complex playground relationships can be!
Have you ever had a similar issue with your child? Was it easily resolved? Let us know!