Dealing with the end of the world, and the illusion of choice #Kids #Parenting #Mentalhealth


Gee, just what I wanted the week after vacation. One kid going through all the symptoms of teenage angst. And another being too sick to go to school for 3 days. And being forced to scramble a little for school options in the face of the reality of illusory school choice. It is more than enough to make me want to scream. Instead, I am focusing on trying to breathe, and not being hard on myself for subconscious negative responses.

Danny caught some bug, hit him hard on Monday, he missed school Tuesday and Wednesday. He is out again today. He could have gone today. But I was still tired from the battles with Jimmy, so I let him have another day of rest. He is getting away with a little bit this week because I am focused on other issues, I know that. I don’t think it will be the end of the world for him, though. Unlike how his brother feels.

Ah, the joys of raising a teenager. When every setback is treated like the end of the world. When appeals to reason fall on increasingly deaf ears. And the ability to focus is almost nonexistent. Out of respect for his privacy, I will not go into all the troubles that Jimmy is facing. Suffice to say that he is in enough trouble that we had to crack down pretty hard on him last night. And his response by the end of the night was to feel like his very world was ending. I vaguely remember those years, they sucked. So I empathize. But that doesn’t mean that there will not be punishment, just that I feel bad for him. It is not an easy world to be in for a teenager.

Back to Danny, and school, and the biggest issue I am facing this week. We know Danny, he is a very tender-hearted guy, has a hard time mixing in with new kids. He is getting better, but you don’t change or grow out of that overnight, I know from personal experience. That means we have to take that into account when it comes to things like school choices. On top of that is his learning problem, which means he is on an IEP.

Knowing all of this we did not think that our close neighborhood school would be a good fit for him when he moves to Middle School next year. We did what we were supposed to do, and submitted his choice permit on the very first day we could for the school that Jimmy went to, his cousins attended and his close cousin will be at. And we waited and waited. Coming up very soon is his annual IEP review, which his future Middle School Special Ed person would ideally attend. At the beginning of this week, I grabbed the bull by the horns and called the school to see where he stood. This is where I get mad. Because he is close to the top of the wait list, number 7, despite the fact that Kim was there to turn in his application on the very first day it could be turned in. But I was told that because he is on an IEP, that if they get to his spot on the list but there is no special ed spot he will still not get in.

Intellectually I get this. I know more than a few special ed teachers, and I know that there is a limit to the number of kids they can deal with. I get that. But to be told that, because of his disability, my son might be forced to attend a school that will create more problems for him emotionally is just crushing. I now know exactly what my parents felt like (not from the disability side but from the emotional stability side I went to a different school than my peers.) The truly frustrating part is that everyone trumpets the concept of school choice when that choice is really an illusion. Because all that choice is really doing is resulting in poor schools getting poorer, while everyone flocks to the richer schools.

We are scrambling a little bit at this point. Figuring out how to make things work. I have some confidence that we will be able to do so. But that is just one more thing to face this week when I am already dealing with sickness, anxiety and emotional angst from the kids.

All of this is why I went out for lunch yesterday and had an unhealthy but comforting meal of junk food. I know why I felt that need. And knowing that, I am not being too hard on myself for doing so. It is a reasonable response to everything that is going on. I didn’t hurt anyone one. It didn’t even hurt me in the long run. It was just a blip, an emotional response to a difficult week. And because of that, there is no reason to get upset about it or feel bad. I have a lot on my mental and emotional plate right now. Just do it, and move on.

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