The teacher called again today and I headed up there to meet her after school. Sometimes it’s just easier that way. The informal, I’m available to pop in and support you with whatever you need mom attitude. Or today… it was more like the, I know what you’re going to say about my kid, but maybe you’ll say it nicer when you see the cute dress I’m wearing kind of meeting. But there are also those meetings where I’ve just had it. IT. You know… I’ve met my quota of teacher calls, conferences and impromptu meetings and I’m wearing the look of a mother who is just about to give up.
Y’all. It’s always the same for me. Sounds of the orchestra rehearsing in the background, smells of the cafeteria lunch still in the air from hours before. And the custodian, God bless him, wheeling a giant trash can endlessly around the building counting the hours till the kids go home so he can do his real work… scrubbing defaced bathroom walls, mopping the floors where that kid in first grade came to school even when his mom knew he had a tummy virus.
And there are the familiar faces of teachers that have taught my other kids. And they smile, and remember the good old days when Kids 1 and 2 did what they were supposed to do and I was the greatest PTA president in the land. I did host an amazing teacher appreciation luncheon one year and there was that spaghetti dinner fundraiser that brought in millions. Millions.
But there are also the faces of recognition – the ones who know why I’m here again. And they smile, too. But I know they’re silently guessing which room I might walk into after the crowd clears from the hallway.
Today I visited the science teacher. Not long ago it was the reading teacher, and one time this year it was a called conference of what appeared to be the entire 6th grade staff, including the lovely, and well dressed Principal.
And I have to decide before each meeting how I want it to go. Will I go in strong and understanding, and listen, again, to the same stories of how Kid 3 doesn’t do much in class, doesn’t do much out of class, doesn’t do much at all? Will I tell them all that I’ve heard the same stories since 3rd grade and how I monitor all his grades and assignments tirelessly online on the parent portal? Or will this be the day that I forget to wear waterproof mascara and I fall apart because I can only take so much criticism of my son without hearing about the good things he’s doing? That’s happened, too. But most times I’ve been able to hold it till I get home.
He’s bound to be doing some good things, I think. Or he’d be in middle school jail by now. And he’s passing this … and super close to passing that. And he has so many friends, I tell them. And he loves school… just not the learning and work part. I always seem to hear myself saying that one.
I could tell you that this is what ADHD looks like. And it does. But I could also tell you that this is what lack of motivation looks like. Because that’s true, too. We’ve been through the lengthy and expensive Educational Diagnostician exams, the diagnosis, the doctor visits and the trial and error suggestions of prescriptions. (That we chose not to use with our son. I’ll save that story for another day.)
We’ve toured private schools that specialize in learning differences. We’ve done tutoring. We’ve done every night at home till we fall down exhausted from math lessons, teaching him ourselves. And this many years later, we still go to the school and meet new and excited teachers at the beginning of the school year, that turn into frustrated teachers in a matter of months.
I write this tonight sitting at the Dallas Public Library, Lochwood branch, if you want to come keep me company. I’m by the window – cute dress, boots, short blonde hair, angry mom eyes. Because at least here, there are fewer distractions. And I can read People Magazine while Kid 3 does what he needs to do. Of course after my teacher meeting today, and the news from that, my darling boy told me how his life is generally unfair and filled with unkind and stupid people. Myself included. Another proud parenting moment. So I breathed, and prayed…. for about 5 seconds… and resisted the urge to beat him with a stick. Then I made him come to the library. That’s how that played out.
Y’all, I don’t know the answer. If I did or if I find out soon, I PROMISE to tell you. Or if I happen to open an all boys school that teaches everything through sports and play, you’ll be the first to know.
But I do know this. It’s not my job to make my kids happy. It is, however, my job to make sure they grow up to be productive members of society. Sometimes that requires tough love and a few tears. Theirs and mine.
And believe me I know it’s hard looking into those angel eyes and seeing anything but hearts and roses. But discipline is a form of love. And consistency teaches them responsibility. And sometimes loving a kid in a hard to love situation means firm enforcement of right and wrong, with a side of expectation.
So here we are… trudging our way through another school year, with about six weeks to decide how it’s going to turn out. And as many times as I’ve threatened to give up on him – and everything really, here we are again. Working on it. Working through it. Working it out. He’s not happy about it, but he’s here. And I’m all caught up on my Kardashian family gossip.
And y’all… this is me and Kid 3.
And no matter what, I’m kinda crazy about him.
- Never fear… I’ve never beaten any of my kids with a stick. Though I may or may not have thrown it out there as an option.
- I’d be lying if I said I never worry about how all this will work out in the long run. But then we somehow conquer another hill that had to be climbed and I get a better glimpse of the big picture from the top of that mountain.
- And that spaghetti fundraiser didn’t earn millions, exactly. But it earned enough.. and we had beautiful sparkly lights.