By: Cayla from Running, Recipes, and Reading
Two weeks ago I got this email from B’s teacher telling me that he had a not-so-good day at school and may be upset when he gets home. Upon reading it, I got that feeling in my stomach that is a nauseating combination of worry, frustration, and frankly, fatigue. I am tired. I am tired of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am tired of worrying about B when the psychiatrist, his doctor, and almost every adult that knows him has told me that not only is he is going to be ok, he is going to be great. When I get emails like that, I feel like maybe all those people are wrong, that there is still, and always will be, something to worry about.
But when I picked him up, he was all smiles. I tentatively asked him how his day went and he said, “great!” There had been mashed potatoes for hot lunch, his science teacher said he did a great job, and he and some friends played basketball at recess, all the makings of a perfect grade 6 day. Whatever events prompted his teacher to send me the email had been long forgotten. I struggled with whether to ask him about it and ultimately decided not to. I decided that I was going to let this one go. After further deliberation, I decided that perhaps its time to let a lot more things go too. He’s happy, his medication seems to be working, and overall, he’s doing ok in school. No more checking every little bit of his homework; if it’s done, great. If not, he’ll have to face the consequences. No more making plans with friends for him; if he’s bored on a Saturday, he’ll have to call someone. No more bringing his lunch to school when he forgets it; he won’t starve in one afternoon.
I visited his teacher and thanked her for her excellent parent/teacher communication and told her that no offense, but pending B burning the school down or an alien attack, I didn’t want to hear from her anymore. She was all smiles. “Deal,” she said. We shook hands and I haven’t heard from her since.
Fast-forward a couple weeks and things are great! He has forgotten his lunch, trombone, and study notes for a science test. He got in a fight with a kid-and stood up for himself! But… he didn’t starve, he survived homework detention, got a 97% of the test, and (insert fanfare) a group of boys showed up on my front stoop asking if B could come out and play. SUCCESS!
Over the weekend, I ran into the mother of a former student. When he was in my Special Ed class in grade 6, he was pretty behind and pretty apathetic about wanting to do anything about it. I had tried to inspire him but ultimately, he left our school not much better off than before I started working with him. I asked his mom about how he was doing and she told me that he was struggling (wait for it) with whether to go to Carleton or U of Ottawa; he had gotten into criminology at both schools. Later that night, I was watching Zach Galifianakis on Saturday Night Live and in his monologue, he talked about how he was bullied in school and had a really hard time but, wow, look at him now. These two experiences were like a sign for all I have been struggling with. These two experiences have taught me that it is normal for kids to struggle when they are growing up and that I can’t solve every problem. That not only will he be able to handle some pretty tough stuff on his own, but that he will be better off for it.
Will things always be this (im)perfect for B? Probably not. But after such a long a winding road over the past two years, in the words of Mary Poppins, “That will be quite enough of that, thank you.” I’m out…for now.
So here I am. Vowing to stop ignoring one child while at the same time, trying really hard to ignore the other…does that sound weird to anyone else or is it just me?
Cayla vents muses
about her life on her blog, Running, Recipes, and Reading, an integral part of helping her center her life and find the beauty in humanity. Follow her on twitter: @runreadrecipe.