We recently received a powerful testimony from Marie-Josée. She had worked in a school for a couple of years and she wanted to share with us the Story of Jo.
“Almost 20 years ago, I worked in an elementary school as a specialized educator. I was in charge of taking care of kindergarten and Grade One children.
One day, I got asked to care for a very troubled child from Grade One. Nearly every teacher tried unsuccessfully to help this child. He was a mysterious disaster nobody was able to solve. The school was preparing an action plan including Ritalin and other measures to calm down Jo, the young boy.
I made a simple request to the school: First, give me three months and then we can talk.
During 3 months, I have accompanied the little boy throughout his learning routine. From the first days, I knew this little man had built strong walls around himself, and that these walls would be very difficult to overcome.
Days passed, and the crises were becoming a daily occurrence. I began to doubt my own abilities, but, his voice and his daily acts of violence did not discourage me. Instead I would tell myself: Marie, you have to figure out what Jo is trying to tell you.
One morning, a huge crisis exploded and I had to take Jo out of this classroom. I asked the teachers to let Jo and I be alone.
Jo was mad. He yelled at me, insulted me in every imaginable way, and spat on me. His violence towards me forced me to physically restrain him (these are techniques I learnt in school that I never expected to ever have to use on a 6-year old child).
While keeping Jo in my arms, he began to yell and cry of sadness.
How can such a small body hold that much suffering and violence?
Then slowly, he began to fatigue. I can feel his exhausted body in my arms. I can see his eyes begging me to help him.
I looked him straight in the eyes and I told him: Jo, I do not know how to help you. I cannot understand what you are trying to tell me with these acts of violence and aggression. Please, tell me what I can do for you.
Jo answers me: Crap! Can’t you understand I’m hungry!?
Jo was a latchkey child, on his own for most meals. The only “real” meal he was having was occasionally with his mom, sometimes with his step-dad, but, most of the time, he was left alone.
It was then the very beginning of the breakfast clubs.
Jo got signed up.
Jo started to fill his belly. Jo started to smile.
Jo’s concentration in class skyrocketed.
Jo suddenly had more friends.
Jo started to be a kid.
Then, the school year ended. Jo began to receive good grades, without Ritalin. On the last school day, he came to see me, he did not say a word. He gave me an envelope and the biggest smile you could think of. Inside the envelope, was a drawing with my name on it. It was simple, but, beautiful.
Today, where ever you are, my little Jo, I hope you are happy. I hope all children find adults who understand their needs through their behaviours. I beg all of you adults, to see beyond the disturbing behaviors of the children around you. Look at them, listen to them, with all of your heart. You will discover a wonderful world. ☺