Ben Short is just a normal kid but he does have anger issues like many of us. Join Ben in this series of stories designed for youngsters and parents alike. If you missed the first story you can find it on the products page.
Today was Rubbish Tuesday. I call it Rubbish Tuesday because it is not my favourite day. Tuesdays start with maths (ugh!) then music (double ugh!) then P.E. (triple triple ugh!). I am rubbish at maths. I don’t understand the stuff Mr Griffin tells us in music but I already know what a quaver is, I have some for breakfast when mum is not looking or in the car on the way to school. P.E.? That’s just an excuse for everybody to muck about. Miss Coogan takes us for P.E. and is not very good at controlling the class so you don’t really get to play anything properly.
Today we were meant to be playing rounders. Some of the bigger kids took the ball and just played stupid catch. The girls just stood around talking, so boring. I just got really bored and so cold my teeth ached.
I haven’t seen Pavlov yet this week. I reckon he is staying away from me. One of his mates says he has a broken bone in his hand but he can’t have ‘cos his mum would have come down the school and I would be in more trouble.
I was talking to Scar my big black goldfish last night about the fight. I told him I didn’t like it, it hurt. My lip is still a bit fat and stings when I clean my teeth. I don’t tell anyone apart from Scar though. Scar just looked at me when I told him that if Pavlov did have a broken bone I hoped I did it when I shook his hand. It wasn’t a very nice thought and I don’t think Scar liked my stupid comment. He just stared back at me with his bulging black eyes.
This afternoon we did English. I am pretty good and was the only one to get all the spellings right. Yippee house point to me, might help stop my teacher thinking I am a trouble maker with ‘issues’.
When I got home Emma was there before me as I had played footie all the way home with some other boys to keep warm. She and mum were talking but went quiet when I came in. Emma went red so I guess I know who they were talking about. When Emma gets caught out she always gets this red rash all up her neck.
‘Alright beetroot?’ I shouted in her face as I skipped in to the kitchen to get a drink. She tried to say something back but was not quick enough. I pushed my head back round the kitchen door just in time to see her go a deeper blotchy red colour.
‘Don’t forget we are back to see Mr Higgins the counsellor at 5 Ben.’ So now I knew they were talking about me and what they were talking about. People think 9 year olds can’t figure anything out but I am not stupid I will be 10 soon.
‘How was your day at school Ben?’ Mum was checking I had not got in to any more trouble.
‘Fine mum… no issues!’ I shouted back from the kitchen.
Mum said I had time to change out of my school uniform. I would rather not of changed as my school trousers were new and actually fitted me. The jeans I had were too short and looked like they had had an argument with my trainers. Ankle bashers Emma called them. I thought I would put on my Arsenal shirt as Mr Higgins liked football as well. Scar blew me a bubble for good luck and I ran downstairs.
‘Change that shirt Ben Short you can’t wear that!’. Mum was waiting at the bottom of the stairs like a sergeant major ready to inspect the troops and obviously my choice of top was not to her liking.
‘But mum it’s my favourite and Mr Higgins likes football.’
‘I don’t care if he likes football or not you are not wearing that top. There is a grass stain on the elbow and it needs to go in the wash, it’s smelly.’ Mums wrinkled face told me I was not going to win. I knew that face. She makes the same face when one of the dogs has been sick.
‘But mum I promised Mr Higgins I would wear my football top. He is going to wear his Stoke City shirt as well.’ I reckoned that was worth a go.
‘Ben Short! Get up stairs and change NOW!’ Guess I was right about that face. ‘And put that shirt in the wash.’
I could see Emma smirking happily in the kitchen which made me want to go back upstairs even less.
But I got changed quickly and got another bubble from Scar. I heard Emma come upstairs while I changed. Mum was waiting for me again, she looked me up and down and smiled. I preferred that face.
‘Go get in the car I will be there in a sec’. ‘
‘Sure mumsy, just so you know Emma has hung her uniform up on the floor.’ I smiled my best smile and as I walked across the drive to the car I could hear mum yelling at Emma. You see, older sisters should learn not to smirk at their 9 year old brothers.
We arrived to see Mr Higgins just as he was showing a girl of about 15 with lots of make up on out from his office. He spoke briefly to a tall man in a suit I assume was her dad, shook hands with him then turned to me and mum.
‘Not wearing your Stoke City shirt then Mr Higgins?’ mum said.
Er, no…do you want to come in Ben ?’
He looked confused and I just stayed quiet but I could feel the need to escape in to Mr Higgins’ room as mum scowled at me. I almost tripped in my hurry to get to the office behind him.
As we sat down he asked me how my week had been. What had been the good bits and what bits had been not so good. I told him that it was good as I had not seen Pavlov and I had heard that he had broken his hand. The good bit was my English spelling test. I told him that the words were really hard and that I was the ONLY one to get them all right. I think he was impressed. Oh yes and it had been good to watch Arsenal beat their London rivals Tottenham, I had really enjoyed that.
‘OK Ben we are going to do some work today with anchors. Do you remember me mentioning anchors during our first session?’
‘Not really ‘. I could remember but wasn’t sure what he said about them. Thankfully Mr Higgins was happy to explain again.
‘It’s creating a link between a memory and a feeling which gets triggered by something you hear, see or do. We’re going to use good memories that lead to good feelings so you can feel them when you need to. However you probably also have some triggers that lead to bad feelings too.’
The time flew much faster than in a school lesson. It wasn’t a lesson I know but still it seemed like I had been with Mr Higgins for 10 minutes not 60. He explained what an anchor was and showed me how to use one if I was getting angry. And we talked a lot. He explained and helped me to understand that my anger had triggers. He suggested that when Pavlov spoke to me or shouted at me in a certain way this was one of my triggers. He discussed ways that I could identify and recognise when those triggers were about to take over. Something to do with my unconscious mind he said. He also showed me ways to deal with those triggers. The thing I noticed most was that he asked lots of questions, listened to my answers and discussed them with me. Sometimes he had to explain things a second time in a different way so it made sense to me.
‘Well Ben, that’s us done. You have worked hard today but don’t forget the tasks we have set for next week and I will look forward to seeing you again. Good luck for the match against Coventry on Saturday’. He walked with me to the door.
‘But I think you will need more luck than us as you have Chelsea this weekend’. I told him I thought Stoke would lose at least 3-0.
‘Thank you for your vote of confidence Ben,’ he came back pretending to be angry.
Mum was waiting and looked up from her magazine as I came out, she smiled at both of us. ‘All done?’
‘Yep. Can we get something to eat? I am starvin’ Marvin’.
‘You sound like your dad. D’you want to get pizza?’
‘Yes please!’ as I got in the car. I loved those ones with the cheese filled crust and pepperoni.
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