I constantly feel completely overwhelmed when it comes to managing my child’s education.
I spend countless hours awake at night, unable to stop myself from analyzing, dreading, crying, praying, hoping as the endless myriad of questions, doubts, thoughts and dreams stomp through my head each night. In the day time I spend hours sick to my stomach, holding back tears, laughing at certain things, strategizing, hoping, praying, asking questions, reading, researching, etc. on the thoughts, questions, dreads and dreams that make my heart pound.
Sometimes I think I’ll die an early death from all of the stress. Other times I think I’m making far too big of an issue out of all of this; then I fear I’m not doing enough.
The question that haunts me a great deal of time is what is the balance? What is too much? What isn’t enough? Where do I push and where do I back off?
My brain never shuts off and the gremlins that torture me are definitely running amok at the moment.
I have an IEP for my son’s needs for his dyslexia, so that means he’s classified as Special Education. I had a lot of preconceived prejudice about Special Education (SpEd) and struggled immensely with classifying my son as SpEd. My husband stated it beautifully one day though as he said to me that our son has to be taught in a specific way in order to learn, so of course that means he belongs in SpEd.
Yet, because of this I worry about the stigmatization for being SpEd. I worry about his self esteem in dealing with the day to day work in school where he will struggle. I worry about the school system’s drive to conformity. I worry about my ability to raise a non-conformist, comfortable with not fitting in the school’s “expectation” of what he should be, when I spent my life as a conformist.
I worry the school will treat him differently. They will segregate him because I fought for an IEP. I worry he won’t be with his peers, and be seen as “being with that group of kids” so clearly something must be wrong with him.
I worry the staff at the school will mistreat him because I’ve fought so hard, because I’m “THAT” parent. I see videos of children in horrific situations that make me stop breathing and fill my eyes with tears. I pray that will never be my son because of my personal actions or because of their lack of understanding of dyslexia and other special needs.
I worry his teachers won’t understand. I worry that they don’t get adequate training. I worry that all of the little things that express the language processing disorder that he has will be misconstrued as other things that generate labels that aren’t true and for him won’t be fair.
I worry that I worry too much, that I’ve made far too big of a deal of all of this. That I’ve pushed for an IEP when maybe that wasn’t really necessary, that he was doing fine because again I’m “THAT” parent. I ask myself if I’ve pushed his teachers and administrators too hard, demanded more than was necessary. (Fortunately these particular worries torture me the least because I know what I’ve done is what was necessary.)
I wish the people that I deal with in his school would see that I’m a nice person, a loving parent who is just fighting for the best interest of their child, against a system not designed for him or those like him, in a system that’s not dedicated to literacy even for their normative population.
I’m angry every time someone says something ignorant, born out of either prejudice or a complete lack of information or worse yet misinformation. I’m angry when people try to manipulate me to a certain path, again born out of their ignorance. I’m angry every time a conversation is set up to try to trap me, off balance me, convince me of something that isn’t true. I’m angry every time I have no choice but to be confrontational.
I analyze how the events that led up to the confrontation could have played out differently so as to result in a different set of conversations. I analyze the next meeting well beforehand. I analyze conversation topics and threads to anticipate both physical and verbal responses. I analyze personalities to understand how best to control the situation to my son’s optimum benefit, and attempt to control the manipulation, and manipulate the room myself. I analyze each personality, each intellect, each adversary. I analyze motives, weaknesses, emotional triggers.
This analysis fuels my constant strategizing. When to move, when not to move. When to stand back and allow events to unfold, when to pounce and pounce hard. How best to keep them guessing. How best to see the long game so I’m not played.
Then I question if I’m being played after all and I just don’t see it, which of course leads to questioning my own intellect and ability.
I dread the future because I fear that the school system and their lack of understanding of dyslexia will harm the little boy I know and love. I fear that the innate joy he expresses most days will be stomped out of him. I fear that he will question his value, his self worth, his place in this world. I fear that he will judge himself as less worthy of what his peers and friends achieve because he’s deficient in some way. I fear the debasement of his self worth will lead down a path with an ultimate consequence that once done, cannot be undone.
I question what more I have to do, learn, know in order to better support him, better fight for him. I ask myself how much more I can do for him, how much more I can love him, how much more I can celebrate who he is so that he knows how much he is truly worth, valued and loved. I ask myself how do I unlock his potential. I ask myself how do I show him the endless possibilities for his future.
I ask myself (and others that interact with him) if he’s happy. I ask myself how other mothers with fantastic grown kids have done it and what could I learn from them. I ask myself how to work up the courage to ask them if I can just sit at their feet and learn.
I cry because I worry so much, because I fear so much. This journey feels like I’m balancing on a tight rope over a vast black abyss and arrows are constantly being thrown at me trying to make me fall.
I tell myself I don’t know the answers to any of the questions or dreaded thoughts and fears that stomp through my head, that all I can do is focus on today, not tomorrow, and today all I can do is deal with the immediate need in front of me, put one foot in front of the other, and continue moving forward.
I pray, but not nearly enough. That being said, I do trust in God that this amazing creature that He created will be just fine, that He’s got my back and He will help me across this tight rope. I pray that through God’s grace and my sheer force of will, that my son will survive his school aged years, and me with him.
The funny thing is that in writing this, the gremlins have stopped dancing for the moment. Putting thought to written word has been cathartic. That doesn’t mean the gremlins are gone, just silent for a moment. I don’t think they liked that I shared the poison they whisper to me.
Regardless, one foot in front of the other.
Breathe. Pray. Trust. Love. Hug and cuddle a lot.
And keep moving forward….