To: Sally Winters, pre-primary counselor
From: George Sommers, teacher, Kindergarten-B
Subject: More problems with Donald [name redacted]
Donald’s difficulties have not eased at all, quite the reverse. You’ll recall that his inability to tell the truth – or maybe even to recognize it – is extreme, even for a five-year-old. We had hoped that the example of the other children around him would help him outgrow this problem. But unfortunately, his interactions on the playground with several children from grades 1 and 2 have only made things worse.
It seems that Donald was trying to impress by outlandish boasting, claiming that his father was “the richest man in the world” and that he (Donald) was “strong like Sampson” when another child said Donald needed a haircut.
Not at all taken in by these boasts, several of the older children began teasing him, calling him “Dopey Donald,” and the nickname began to be used by other children, including some in Kindergarten-B. This has caused a worsening of Donald’s behavior. He has begun verbally bullying some of the less confident children in Kindergarten-B, and also any of them whose physical appearance is even slightly unusual.
Even worse, he has taken to portraying children from the other kindergarten classes as inferior and/or a danger to children in Kindergarten-B. He is particularly hostile to the children from Kindergarten-C – whether because it is located in the room next to us or for some other reason, I have not been able to determine.
Some of his classmates, especially the ones he has bullied, appear to believe what he says about the other kindergartens, and also to accept another of his fantasies: he has promised some of them that he will buy them candy or toys or God knows what with money from “the richest father in the world.” Sometimes, he uses these promises to extort parts of their lunches from the more gullible children.
I really don’t know what to do about poor Donald. I try to discourage the other children from calling him “Dopey Donald,” but the children who aren’t fooled by his boasting continue to call him that when they think I can’t hear them. I can’t see how the situation will improve unless Donald can somehow be persuaded to begin relating to reality. What would you suggest?
To: George Sommers
From: Sally Winters
I agree it’s a problem, George. Earlier in the year, when I tried counseling Donald not to exaggerate so much, he reacted very badly, saying I didn’t believe his stories because I “hated” him.
The children in Kindergarten-B who are fooled or intimidated by him will probably outgrow his influence as they discover the emptiness of his boasts and threats. But Donald himself may be an extreme case of arrested development. I think we should ask his parents to come in for counseling and suggest to them that they obtain the services of a child psychiatrist as soon as possible.