Janet Lantry
Post count: 3

Kelsey and Cheryl, it sounds like you are really implementing the lens shift into your various interactions with children and parents. I find I am able to do this consistently at work, with the children and adults (teachers, admin, and parents), though it can sometimes be harder outside of work. I am entering this post late, so we are in December, the Month of Chronic Dysregulation for all of us. I was at Walmart last night and there was a woman in the line in front of several of us, who was having the hardest time, as she had to keep determining what would be paid for by her EBT card and what she would have to pay for from her own funds. People started to judge and make comments. The guy in front of me told people to be kind. I asked him how he was able to be so gentle when so many people were throwing out venom, and he said, “You never know what someone is going through.” And that’s it. We live in a society that does not normalize sharing our challenges, and we are expected to present as if we have no stress, which creates more stress. Somewhere like the line at Walmart tends to reveal some things. It’s harder to hide. And whether the stress and challenge is obvious or disguised in the projective behaviors we witness all day, in the end we are all navigating a lot and compassion goes a long way. I offered the guy in front of me at Walmart to check out another line and come back if there was no better option, and he smiled at me, offered the same to me, and asserted he needed that line for his cigarettes. No other line offered that option. And I reserved judgment. We all have our shit and limitations and needs. Every single one of us. And the more we can just let that be, and really take responsibility for ourselves and our reactions, taking a step back to regulate before reacting, the more we are able to not get pulled into the set up. There was a situation earlier in the week when a student with whom I work became very dysregulated, and they had to evacuate her classroom to keep students safe. The student I work with is 6 years old. And this kind of reaction has become rare, so I knew something was going on that we didn’t see on the surface. The school counselor and I (I am an embedded therapist from a hospital clinic) often talk about the bigger picture and come up with plans for how to talk to teachers who often take the behavior of students personally or respond in a way that keeps rupturing a relationship with a child because now the child is “dangerous, wild, unpredictable.” I made an effort to reframe the situation with one of the teachers involved after I spoke with the parent and determined there was OMG so much going on that we did not know. The parent is a single parent in the military, and she is under a lot of pressure to never show the rough spots, but apparently the family had some major stressors, and the 6 year old who has made so much progress, just couldn’t hold all the weight of the stress, and it came out in response to a trigger that seemed tiny to the teacher but felt huge to a child’s nervous system that was already overloaded and managing multiple perceived threats. The teacher could not shift to a perspective of compassion, and I had to remain compassionate toward her. She was scared. She does not feel prepared for that level of dysregulation in her classroom, and she doesn’t want it to happen again, so she was holding tight to the response that the child could not be in her classroom. This is not an option, but I could have reacted with more defense, and I simply listened and reflected her fear and concern for everyone’s safety. The child did not come to school for several days, as her family is moving to a new house because the previous house had something REALLY wrong. Can you imagine having to suddenly move without time to prep in December, with very little help? Yeah, nobody wants that. So, it is my task to not take anyone’s reactions personally even with my own carrying of December on my load, and help this child re-enter her classroom for the last week of school before a break, with a teacher who sees her as a monster. Oof. But we’ll do it, and I will continue to focus on this lens of “it’s not about me,” taking into consideration all the variables EVERYONE is carrying for this next week in particular with schedule changes, feeling already checked out, and fear that something could still go really wrong. We’ll be a hot mess together, and I will own my personal hot mess and try to not let it skew my perspective of anyone else’s hot mess. Happy Holidays!