Friday, September 23, 2011

Back To School Night

Back to School night

Okay, so I haven't felt much like blogging lately, and I'm really trying to rely on the support of folks at the office these days. Anyway, yesterday I have a bit of a tragic evening, that I now realize that other widowed parents might appreciate the opportunity to see their reflection here today.

Now when I say tragic, I have to tell myself that it wasn't all that bad, but perhaps a vulnerable evening. Anyway, it was back to school night at my son Remy's school. I wasn't really wanting to attend, yet if I did'nt I'd spend the rest of the school year feeling like a lazy shitty parent. Times in the past always felt horrible, so I just should have given myself a break, and not attended.

I attend not just out of guilt, but because my son has so many special needs, all of which are significantly more apparent this school year. He is now in 8th grade, but being in the 4th percentile for his size, often gets mistaken for a 5th grader. And since he has many new teachers this year, I needed to know what they expected out of him, and to allow them to meet me, as we will definitely be conversing through email a lot this year.

My son has multiple diagnoses. He has ADHD, a mood disorder, and a behavioral tic disorder. The tic disorder has been there for awhile, but mostly went unnoticed by most people in the past. It is similar to Tourettes, only there are only physical tics, minus the verbal ones. Unfortunately the tics increase dramatically during puberty, which is now in full force. My son has very little control when he body decides to jerk to the left or to the right. And when his body is not making uncontrolled movements, he is focused on trying to control them when they do arrive. Throw in the ADHD, and staying focused during class becomes almost impossible.

Anyway, with all this in mind, I attended. Now, during the past few weeks my son has been struggling with one of his new teachers. His resource specialist recommended that we switch him to another teacher, as she seemed to have more experience working with kids like my son, and personality wise, seemed more like better match. This too was another reason to attend.

So we parents are given a copy of our kids' schedules of six periods. We follow along, and go to each class every 15 minutes or so. As I sat in each class, while waiting to the teacher to speak, all the parents were either with their spouses, or openly talking about how their spouse was at home with the kids. I on the other hand, sat there alone, knowing nobody. I began feeling quite sad having to see myself in light of all the other coupled parents.

With each period that I moved through I became more and more sad. It was just another clear reminder of how different my life has become. When each teacher spoke about their expectations for the students I couldn't help but think to myself, my son won't be able to meet that expectation. After having to think about this over and over again, I felt more sad. I realized that not only do I immediately begin thinking these words, but how my son must do the same each day.

By the middle of the schedule of announced periods, I realized that the next period that parents were headed toward classrooms, I didn't have one to go to. My son goes to the resource specialist room during that period, and receives help organizing his work for the day. On the schedule of directions my son gave me about what classroom to attend each period, he had put a question mark next to this one, as he didn't know where to send me. I walked over to the resource specialist's room, but it was dark. Obviously there was no need for her to attend last night, as she doesn't teach classes like the others. Now keep in mind, the specialist is the most wonderful teacher I know. She has been a god-send for my son, so I have no ill feelings about her not being present last night. But what it meant was that I had no where to be, and ended up sitting on a bench in the dark, as there were no outdoor lights.

How depressing is that? I sat there wanting to cry as I realized that this is likely what my son feels at times.

The last class I attended was the one my son was recently transferred to. The very nice teacher began sharing with all the parents about how wonderful their children were, and gave an example of how caring they are. She was telling them about a recent student transferring into the classroom, and how all the kids were very welcoming, and wanted to know all about him. The teacher wondered out loud if this student's parents were in the room, and as I, and all the other parents began looking around the room I realized that the parents she was referring to was me.

No, there are not two parents, just one. I began to realize that she has no idea that Remy's other parent died. Something I need to address I suppose.

Well, let me tell you, by the time it was the hour to go home, and I found myself walking back to my car alone in the dark, crying. As I got into the car, and began driving away I wondered, who am I crying for? Me, or Remy?

It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself. All the more sad to feel sorry for your baby.


  1. Agree. Sadness can be all the more poignant when felt for someone we love.

  2. I love that you saw Remy's day as he might. It doesn't change things, but - well, I don't have an end to that sentence.