Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Back to School Dread

Ahhh, Back to School!

The smell of new crayons, fresh notebooks, the look of pencils yet to be chewed on, and backpacks that look nice and neat.

Then there are the pictures with smiling kids and fingers held up or chalkboards or shirts telling what grade they are going into. New shirts or whole outfits. Hair that is actually combed and sprayed.

For some, it is a day of excitement about new teachers, new friends, new schools. The possibilities of fresh starts is exciting.

For others it is a day of hope.

You hope the excitement makes it through the day, that your child comes home full of hope.

Hope that maybe this year they will succeed. That this year will be different.

Hope that this year they will have a friend, that friend. The one that makes it so they will not mind getting up and going. The one that doesn't mind that they are easily excited when nervous. The friend who maybe also doesn't like sports, but will play in the dirt the whole recess.

You hope they get that teacher who gets it. Who understands that they may or may not get it. That they may get it way after everyone else does. The teacher that is willing to hang in there with them and not be annoyed or even hate them because they are annoying by default. Hope that your teacher will not be so overwhelmed by requirements, testing, meetings, many students with specific needs, that she/he lets go of the excitement and enthusiasm of the profession they chose.

Hope that they might actually get past their fear of eating in the cafeteria so they don't come home starving.

Hope that the homework the teachers think will only take 30 minutes, not three hours!

Hope that you will be able to make it through one whole week without having a panic attack.

If you are that Mama, you are not alone. Although, having a kid with disabilities, differences, challenges, or new circumstances can feel so very lonely.

When I taught school, I remember having students whose parents came to me at their wits end. They didn't know how to help their kids. As their teacher, I often had to let them know that they didn't need to worry about whether or not their kid finished the homework. Sometimes, I had to intervene and encourage different friendships. Often I had to let parents know their kid didn't get it yet, but that they most likely would in time. Just not the same time as everyone else.

I am having to tell myself these things over and over now, as a parent.

It is frustrating, overwhelming, often filled with tears.

There are two things I have to keep telling myself.

First, your child's success, or lack of,  in school is not a reflection on you!

That can't be! The best parents have the straight A kids who play at least one instrument, are in several clubs, are the heads of after school activities, etc...

Yes, there are kids who thrive on all of that. But not everyone does, and that is a good thing. There would be no one to lead if we were all leaders. There would be no one in the audience if all the kids were on the stage playing the instruments.

Second, it also does not reflect on them! So maybe they don't get things when everyone else does. We all learn differently and in different time frames. A learning challenge is just that: a challenge. Oh, but in our society it is so hard to remember! Let's remind each other!

Last year, after dropping my kids off at school, I remember looking at sweet pictures of kiddos with combed hair and smiles and feeling my breath sucked away as the fear of failure, meanness, anxiety, being misunderstood, and several other feelings my own kids have expressed or experienced, swooped in and grasped at my lungs. It was so real, I cried and I prayed.

As we are getting our excited or not so excited kids ready to start school, lets fill ourselves and our kids with grace. Let's remember that there are those who excel in "the system" and those who for whatever reason don't. Let's help our kids be kind to them. Let's be praying for the success of our kids and those who struggle. Let's also be praying for the parents of those who struggle. It is so hard to watch. If we have the ability to help, let's reach out and do it! Let's especially help our kids to see that we need each other. 

You are not alone!

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