I’m really sorry that on the second day of school, I almost lost it on you. It’s not you. It’s me.
I’ve become primed to pick up my sword and strike out when told “He had a great day! He was perfect. The best behaved kid in the class.” I’m sure you’ve never had a parent say, “I really hate to hear that.” It was evident in your shocked expression and your return question “why?” My explanation that the better behaved he is in school the more it means he is working hard to hold it together “perfectly” and that it will all come tumbling out – either as meltdown or explosion – sooner or later only served to shock you more.
I was angry at you too. Angry that my son has this impression that you expect him to be perfect. He is a people pleaser and will do all in his power (and more) to meet your expectations. I know it is only the second day of school and you have 19 other kids in the classroom and you are a young teacher but for some reason I was hoping this year would be different. That this year, his teachers wouldn’t require time to get to know him. That this year, they would take my word for it. So, it was hard to hear “I haven’t seen that side of him yet.”
I had hoped that in that brief moment you visited him at the car when he refused to come into the classroom this morning that you suddenly understood the mysteries of this child. He agreed to come in only after I agreed to stay until he was ready for me to leave (I really didn’t want to go to the morning meeting I had scheduled so it was a welcomed excuse not to show.) Two hours later I exited school. It was sweet of you to suggest I leave when he went to the bathroom half an hour into my two hour stay but had I been gone when he returned, having not said “goodbye,” it would have created greater problems for all of us. So, at the end of the day when you suggested that I should “just drop him off and go tomorrow” my stomach knotted and all my old fears of whether or not people will understand and respect my child returned.
It’s not you. It’s me.
I based my responses on five and a half years of watching him over-react one moment and under-react the next, get anxious about things that no one else notices, study the people in his world to figure out how to endear himself to them, and feel really really bad about himself when he screws up. I have seen him lash out causing injury then feel so bad about having done it that he can only cope by denying that he did it. My heart bleeds for my child. For as hard as his “perfect days” may become for me during the anything-but-perfect evenings, they are harder still on him. I know you want to understand and that you are poised to offer him support as he asks for it and for that I am thankful. I know you care for him, that is evident. So again, please forgive me. I will back off and give you time to get to know my son. I will grant you the benefit of the doubt. I know with certainty that eventually, you will see what it is I have been seeing for 5 years and on that day any thought that I am an overprotective mom who WANTS her child to be different will disappear.
Looking forward to that phone call or note asking for help,