Daily Archives: June 16, 2011

No Invitation Needed for My Pity Party

In happier times, my younger son goofed around in a ski mask at his iMac.

Earlier this year I wrote about problems my younger son was having dealing with life and his sophomore year of high school (here and here). Perhaps some of you wonder what the outcome was.

Maybe some noticed that after awhile there were no new track photos posted during the season nor did I wax nostalgically about the end of another school year. As a matter of fact, when the last day of school finally rolled around on June 2, I felt like going to my neighborhood bar (not that I have any idea where that would be) and drinking heavily (another round of Diet Cokes, please!).

Is it?

That tiny snowball filled with my #2 son’s emotional, mental, and physical woes started rolling slowly downhill from the top of Mt. Everest at the end of February. By late March, it was huge and causing avalanches in every aspect of our family’s existence. I used to wear those Life is Good t-shirts every day to remind myself that my life really was good . . . it just didn’t seem like it at the time. I felt stripped of my sense of humor and sense of well-being.

Long story short, my son stopped going to high school in April and missed his last two track meets. He literally couldn’t sit through his classes. After learning that nothing was truly physically wrong with him, we decided he’d be better off in our school district’s homebound program. At least he’d stop being truant (he ended up missing about 25 days of school; nine is the limit) and, hopefully, would be able to pass his classes and earn his second-semester credits.

Marc helps my son with his geometry.

But here’s the problem with the homebound program: Imagine that you only have one hour a week to teach your kid a high school subject like, say, chemistry. That would be hard enough, right? I mean, how much can you learn about a complex class in only that weekly hour? Then add into that 60 minutes the need to administer quizzes and/or tests. Think you’re going to accomplish much?

That’s how it is when a student is homebound—the teacher comes for one hour per core subject per week. So even though my younger son was blessed with two gifted and caring teachers in Marc (geometry and chemistry) and Susan B. (English II and world history), they fought an uphill battle for the six weeks he was in the program. Fortunately, my son’s regular at-school teachers helped him as much as possible and were extremely supportive.

I worked with my son’s terrific Business Information Management teacher, Mrs. J., to save his computer credit (electives aren’t included when a student is homebound). Plus I drove him to school before and after classes so he could attend tutorials and take his quizzes and tests. The kid made up everything on time (barely), but it wasn’t easy.

My son had trouble smiling even on his June 1st birthday.

Meanwhile, I was mired in my very own pity party. Life was hard for both my son (who was hosting his own pity party at the same time) and me 24/7. I so wanted him back at school and not missing all that valuable class and social time that I actually would be angry at him and my own inability to convince him to go to school. When he finally agreed to see a psychologist, he didn’t want to talk to him. It was frustrating, stressful, and overwhelming.

Like most moms, I like to fix things when it comes to my kids. Need a folder? Look in the school supply stash. Can’t get iMovie to work? Let me see what I can do. Need a special treat? Let’s bake cookies. But I couldn’t fix what was wrong with my baby, because I couldn’t make him believe that everything was going to be okay eventually.

I’m just glad I wasn’t doing my Photo of the Day project this year, because I’m afraid that every picture would feature one of us with that little, dark cloud over our head like in the depression medicine commercials. Not pretty.

It’s now been two weeks since my son took his last final. He managed to finish with two A’s and four B’s (he did lose the second semester of his Art I credit). He’s doing fine physically, and it seems like he’s also healing emotionally and mentally. It took me about a week to unwind after constantly feeling that I needed to see what assignments were due and to push my son to finish his work every waking hour. Stress definitely is a two-way street.

And what about Monday, August 22? That’s when my boy should start his junior year. Will he be able to go back to high school? Will the end of his sophomore year be just a memory by then?

I sure hope so. Otherwise, look for that pity party invitation in the mail!