“Good morning Mrs Boccaleone. Could you please come to pre-school? Something has happened and we need to talk to you straight away”.

The few months before the Christmas holidays have seen my son’s behaviour becoming more and more aggressive towards other kids at school. But this time was different. There was a tone of urgency and uneasiness in Mrs Smith’s voice, the headteacher at pre-school.

I asked few questions, I wanted to understand what was going on, and finally Mrs Smith just said “you need to come to school right away. Your son cut another child with scissors. He did it on purpose”.

A picture flashed in my head: my son with scissors in his hand, a deep cut, blood, screams and tears. I dropped everything and rushed to school.

Once at school, I was invited into a tiny office. I could only recognise Mrs Smith. Who were the other people present? I was asked to seat, and then Mrs Smith started “we asked you to come over for a meeting because Ben’s behaviour during the last few months has been very aggressive towards other children and staff. Today your son cut another child, but luckily this was just a light graze. We are concerned for the safeguard of the children in the class. We are here today with the family support worker, the head of inclusion, and the children protection officer.”

And however it’s unlike me, I burst down in tears. I couldn’t stop crying. I was thinking about that little boy my son hurt, at my son and how scared he must have felt, at how things got quickly out of hand. Most of all, I was thinking at how I could have let go things this far, at how I failed to protect and help my son when he most needed it.

After what it seems to be forever, I calmed down and recomposed myself. The school staff seemed open to help, but they didn’t know how. They were asking me what to do, and if I had any idea. This was a first for their little school. I asked them to give me a couple of days to come up with a plan.

When I was ready to leave they added, “we will need to report the incident to social services, so you might get a call from them”.

Great! That was just great!

The feeling of having failed my son was so overwhelming that I couldn’t think, I couldn’t come up with a plan, I couldn’t remember even one of the suggestion read in books. I felt lost, unprepared, and defeated.

Then I put a post on my Facebook page asking for help. And someone, a complete stranger, answered to my plead with a simple “call me on…” followed by his mobile number. So I did.

We talked for an hour or so. He told me about his life with his adopted children. He spoke with honesty and kindness. And he gave me few ideas on what to do. Not everything he said was new, but the advice of an informed person looking at your situation from outside can be invaluable.

I own this guy so much! After that call, I felt like a new person. The time for crying was over, we had a plan to follow.

When I came back to the school with my plan to help my son managing his emotions, all the professionals were really impressed. They didn’t have anything to add to it. They also took notes and said they’ll implement some aspects of my plan with some other challenging kids. Thanks God for the professionals!

Three months down the line and we can now draw some conclusions. My son seems to be much happier, and much more in control of his emotions. We had a couple of incidents at school, but nothing as serious or as often as before.

The Twitter community and social media in general are made of amazingly experienced people. There have been other difficult times in the past, and it happened before that one of my online friends had offered me their phone number. I never did. Out of shyness, pride, fear for what that might say.

That was a mistake.

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