An Episode


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The words 'your son is an idiot 'were never spoken by the psychologist when handing me the results of Vini's IQ test but it was clear by his following phrase that he thought him to be so.

" Low percentile" - The summation of my 6 year old's intellectual allocation.

I knew the term and worked out quickly that Vini, although good at certain things in life, had not distinguished himself intellectually, in the eyes of this professional before me.

"Can he have another go"? I asked, as I suspected Vini would do better now that he was "warmed up".

"What do you mean", he said?

"I have completed my assessment of your son and his score stands as of today".

"But you may have got him on a bad day," I said.

"If Vini is not interested in things, such as your puzzles and tests , then he just won't try. I'm like that myself - don't you find that with some people"?

His bemused expression quashed any hope of concurrence on the subject and our conversation quickly ended.

The IQ test that the Psychologist used had its origins at the beginning of the 20th century. A French Lawyer and Psychologist named Alfred Binet concocted a test to quantify intellectual reasoning for the students he taught at a university- The Intelligence Quotient Test (IQ). This test developed and morphed over the years and a 2016 version of it was implemented on my unsuspecting progeny. The tester was employed by the Education Department to assess children with unusual behaviors observed and reported by their class teachers, at their respective schools.

Unusual behavior.....
Five months before the test, Vini entered his first year of school (Prep) with a boundless energy and a need to express it.

It started with Jumping. Vini jumps a lot, he Jumps up and down when he is excited and flaps his arms like a galah about to take flight. This acceptable behavior in an aviary is less tolerated in a classroom though, and when lunch time came and the real play began, Vini was not the first choice as a play friend.. After standing to one side and patiently watching the others having their fun, he was eventually deemed 'playworthy' by the group and asked to join in. Bliss! But as the activity built momentum, something happened to Vini. His adrenalin and mind merged into a dangerous collaboration and his excitement surged to where a surreal detachment ensued and normal physical touch for him regressed into physical abuse for them.

"Stop grabbing, why are you pushing us? We don't want to play with you anymore''!

These, the ominous shouts of his new but tormented 6-year-old friends.

But Vini could not stop, he was like an ocean liner in full steam with mighty motors thrusting 2000 tonnes of steel through a deep ocean. Like all ships, he needed time, data and notice to effectuate inertia, but these 6 year old kids' cries offered none of that in his mind. Lacking an emotional brake, his momentum peaked and the need to continue surpassed his usual reasoning, so he grabbed them and pushed them further still as if deaf or indifferent to their cries. Finally his exhausted 'adrenals' ran dry and his normal senses returned to inform him that he had really 'messed up'. Lacking confidence from this and similar events that happened over the coming days, Vini withdrew socially from the group, and them from him, and soon after I received my first parent/teacher invitation to discuss my son's behaviour and possible ways to deal with the situation at hand.

But Vini was in trouble now. He had no friends and his teacher was about to suggest something to me that proved he was truly alone in that classroom.

Parent/teacher meeting...
Vinisio's teacher, Madonna, rolled out a description of my son's social dysfunction like a hallway runner within a minute of our meeting commencing;

"He is struggling to assimilate and has no understanding of the word no", she said in summary.

"I suggest you consider another school more suited to his needs." A place more structured perhaps with a class less conflictive to your son's anomalous behaviour."

After 30 years of teaching experience, this was her best plan.....get rid of my kid. Vini was Persona Non Grata .

Sad Vini....
During those few days before and after this meeting, I saw a change in Vini. A sadness had attached to his demeanor and the following words 'cut me deep', when he spoke them;

"I cry when you leave me at school Dada". I watch you walk to the overpass from the back playground behind our classroom and I want to come with you. Everybody hates me at school".

The next day my friendless and forlorn son entered his classroom and with his head lowered in sad countenance, he shuffled towards a solitary chair in the loneliest corner of this now unwelcoming room. Watching from the hallway my heart sank, and deeper still with each abandoning step I took afterwards towards the overpass and away from my beautiful forsaken boy.

"In the back playground I watch you and cry when you leave-I watch you walk to the overpass".

Remembering these words I turned, and sure enough there was Vini with his head pressed against the playgrounds wire-mesh fence, already waving and crying and hoping to capture his father's attention..

Nope..... No more of this I thought as I waved back. Tomorrow will be a new day and it is not going to be the same as this one..... things need to change.

Saving Vini.....The next day.
"Up kids we are going to school earlier today." Vini I want to go into your classroom before class starts and I am going to hang around for a while, okay?"

"Okay Dada," he looked pleased.

So as I walked into the classroom that morning, with our parent/teacher meeting still fresh in my mind, I gave a nod to Madonna before walking to the back of the room with Vini. There, a large window allowed us sight into the playground beyond.

"Vini who is your worst enemy?"

"Atlanta," he said in a heartbeat, she is on the swing out there, she scratches me and says I am evil."

"Really? "

"Yes, she is strong and she can beat me in a fight."

"You fight her?"

"Not anymore," he said.

With this previously omitted but dubious information, I sauntered over to Vini's 'oppugnant' classmate and casually called out to her,

"I love that swing, can I have a go?"

Atlanta stopped swinging, sat there, stared at me and then at Vini and then back at me. In that one moment she knew I was her enemy’s dad.

"You can't swing - you’re an adult", she replied.

" Yes I am but I would love to have a go anyway".

"That's silly", she replied!

"Now you're hurting my feelings'', I replied wryly.

Now, my idea was to charm her and for two specific reasons. If she liked me then by association she would hate Vini less, and secondly I needed to show Vini how to approach and communicate with her and the others. A two bird, one stone thing, that only needed a few minutes to work.

She stood up and approached me asking,

"Why are you here"?

"Oh, just a bit of fun before school, why are you here"?

"School"! "I'm here for school, that's a really silly question"!

"Ah okay, you're right, that is a silly question when you think about it".

And then it happened..... her crinkled brow gave way to a relaxed acceptance and with an outstretched arm this little terrifying girl clasped my hand and led me inside and innocently asked,

"Do you play cards"?

"I do", I said.

Sitting down on the carpet and with a deck of cards that she 'conjured up' from nowhere, we began to play a game.

"Are you going to play too Vini, I asked?

Vini stared at us and was obviously blindsided by Atlanta's friendliness towards me and needed more time to adjust to the surreal event unfolding before him.

"No", he grunted.

Meanwhile Atlanta kept gazing at me fondly and then 'shot' three quick questions at me;

"Where do you live? Can you stay a while? Will I see you tomorrow?"

Dear God! One rescue mission at a time please I thought.

"Well, I live close, and no I can't stay long, and who knows what tomorrow will bring, eh?" I said.

Meanwhile, other kids asked to join the game, first the girls and then the boys and finally Vini slipped in beside me. Now his sparkling eyes and a wide grin shone out amongst the circle of happy, card playing kids.

Vini was now incorporated and I said to the group,

"I'm off now" and slipped away towards the front door where a stunned and confronted teacher half blocked my passage.

"All good?", I asked her.

Madonna glared at me and then with a supercilious look removed herself from my path.

Vini had just lost a room full of enemies but it appeared that his father had just gained one.

Then without regret, I strolled out to yesterday's sad hallway and beyond to the overpass of abandonment, where I turned back to see an empty playground devoid of a crying and waving Vinisio. Success!

The next morning, before the bell rang, I came back and quietly played cards again with Vini and his classmates under the haughty watch of their teacher. Those two mornings "did the trick", and Vini never got lonely again. His rejecting classmates saw him from a different perspective and he integrated to an acceptable level for someone with unusual social skills.

His teacher did not last and was soon replaced.

The IQ test that Vini took eventuated from some of his behaviors in this class and lies in a box at home gathering dust. Its purpose was never clear to me and one day it will probably come out and be read by the person it quantified. I hope Vini can look at it with dismay and know that it holds no insight into his intelligence except to say, puzzles were not his thing.....