I hate back to school time. My heart rate is up, my stomach does summersaults, and hands sweat as the first day of school approaches. You would think that I was the one returning to school after three months lounging in the summer sun, but no. It’s my children preparing for another year of education.
Jazz will be a senior this year. He is an excellent student and enjoys socializing and learning new things. He is comfortable in his high school and understands the routine rising in the morning, getting to school, and completing homework when he gets home. For Jazz, school is just something you do.
Sky will be in eighth grade this year. For Sky, school is a war zone.
I’ve already met with the vice principal of Sky’s school and we have another meeting next Monday with his teacher as well. We need to decide which classes Sky should be enrolled in, how to deal with his behavior at the end of the school year, and how we can start this new year off on a positive note.
Sky’s school experience has been very traumatizing including physical restraints, time out rooms, in school suspension, and out of school suspensions. Unfortunately, his experiences are not atypical for a child with his diagnosis (bipolar, anxiety, ADHD and learning disorders).
I read an article in June regarding a study done by the Department of Education stating that 267,000 students had been restrained or placed in seclusion over the 2013-2014 school year. Most of these students are special education students. You can read the article here if you’re interested.
When I called Sky for the Monday meeting this week, he said, “I’m not going. You know I hate that place. I can’t be there.”
“I know it’s hard bud, but it’s important that everyone hears from you about what you want for your classes and what you would like to see happen this next school year to make things better. They need to hear your voice.”
“You be my voice mom.”
“Sky, I will be there, but it is more powerful if it comes from you.”
“Conference call me into the meeting.”
Sometimes I hate technology, I thought to myself.
I took the first week of school off work, so that I can deal with situations as they arise. Sky doesn’t know I am off work that week, of course. If he did, he would think he could just stay home. I actually work twenty-five miles from my house just so he can’t call and say come and get me mom. He calls anyway, but I can honestly tell him, I can’t because it’s too far for me to get him and then return to work.
As I tighten the laces on my running shoes, and step out my front door in the morning, I think of ways to make this year easier than last year. I am always looking for new ways to help other people understand my son.
It is a careful balance I strike between helping him and letting him fall. If I help too much, he will never learn to be his own voice and I’d rather him fall now when the damage he’ll do as he hits the ground will be less extensive than when he is older.
Are you dreading back to school for you or your children?