You probably didn’t notice but I’ve been gone for a week. I withdrew somewhat from the online world. I didn’t feel much like writing if the truth be known. I’m not even sure if I want to write this but plainly some impetus, lurking deep within me, still holds sway and here I am.
Following on from my previous post things have not been going well for our youngest boy, Tom, at nursery. He has been – in common parlance – resisting arrest for various 4 year old type wrong doings. Tom’s always been a bit of a monkey. He is the Just William of his nursery group. If a window has been broken or a child hit in the eye, Tom will be the one standing with his hand over his mouth trying to stuff the catapult down the back of his trousers.
Tom is the wild horse that refuses to be broken. A couple of the nursery workers managed to get him all but saddle trained last year but they left at Christmas and since then Tom has been kicking down the boundary fences until last week nursery announced he was out of control and they needed help.
I must point out here (ready for when Tom as a teenager reads through my blog and sues me for misrepresentation) that Tom is not uncontrollable. At home he is biddable and lovely. Which is not to say he’s an angel because he’s not. He has his moments but Karen and I can sort it out within ten minutes and bring him back to heel.
So it was initially hard to believe nursery’s reports of gnashing teeth, scratching, biting and kicking, etc. They made him sound like a Tasmanian Devil. In the end Karen and I spent a day at nursery last week to observe and give the staff some pointers on how to corral our wild, young stallion.
Lunchtime saw a flashpoint – I won’t bore you with the details – but, suffice it to say, even mummy and daddy were granted no quarter from the wild thing that fought tooth and nail to not be put on the ‘naughty mat’. It seemed that home based loyalties were meaningless in the nursery environment. As far as Tom was concerned there were no boundaries at nursery. No boundaries at all.
Within 20 minutes though Karen and I had got him calm and biddable again. Proof that it could be done without the aid of tranquilizer darts. But we were both deeply shocked by the experience. And in tears. Was this really our adorable little boy? The same boy who comes home every afternoon and sits and watches Waybuloo so cutely?
Yes, it was. We had to get with the programme.
And so we’ve shed tears, sighed through sleepless nights and moped through stressful days but battle plans have been drawn up between us and the nursery. Tactics are in place. We are working in unison. Reward schemes have been set up to encourage positive social interaction. The importance of the naughty mat in the overall scheme of putting things right again has been explained. And a tent has been erected in the nursery hall to act as Tom’s chill-out room for when colouring-in causes his frayed temper to snap.
We’re not kidding ourselves that this is going to be an overnight fix. It is going to take weeks and weeks of sustained effort and a cohesive approach. Tom, of course, is still resisting – he’s trying diversionary tactics now; he’s not stupid – he is a horse who can feel the reigns being put over his head and (to quote a poet whose name I cannot remember) knows that once they are in place he will never run as freely again. Karen and I are “on call” should the nursery need us or find they cannot manage our bucking bronco. I was called there at lunchtime today but – on a positive note – Tom was calm again before I arrived. Nursery are seeing this as a success. His rampages are already shorter which means a quicker recovery time for everyone involved – including Tom. I daresay we will take two steps forward and one step back for a while yet.
None of us want to break Tom’s spirit. But he needs to learn to gallop safely and to know the edges of his own paddock. And nursery... well they need to re-establish themselves in the saddle and learn to stay there without assistance.
It’s going to be a long season on the range, folks. If anyone knows a good horse whisperer then please do send him my way.
Until then – hi-yo silver away!