Monthly Archives

December 2018

Can’t Stop the Bleeding

So, I totally thought I knew what I was going to write about this weekend -New Year, New You and all that is encompassed in that phrase as a grieving parent. But I went back through my past blogs to see what I had shared this time last year and realized it was the *Froggir* entry. Not only was this one of my most emotional blogs to write (by the amount of crying I do over these offerings, my husband would argue that is true of EVERY blog), it was also the one that prompted more people to reach out and share the struggles they were having accepting their child for who he/she is. It was powerful stuff and as I reread it today it immediately sparked a memory of Luke and I that will go down in my heart as a moment I felt utterly helpless as a mother.

It was November and Luke was a freshman in high school. I believe I have mentioned once or one million times, that at this age, Luke was not a fan of school. Beginning high school turned out to be more tumultuous than any of us saw coming. Within the first few weeks of September Luke was well acquainted with administration and detentions. Turns out Luke had decided to go the *tough guy* route and engaged in arguments with his teachers pretty much every day. Or he would think he was being funny (and you know the damn kids were laughing – that was the draw) and say something fresh and piss off said teachers. Regardless of how it started it would always end up in the office and we would get the phone call and each evening of every day John and I would start with the yelling about how Luke needed to get his act together and that we didn’t raise him to be disrespectful, blah, blah, blah. It was like a video on a loop that wouldn’t quit.

There were consequences to all of this, of course. I can’t pretend to understand his motivation, or lack there of, but Luke didn’t do any work. Not a bit. Including homework. So then he was failing everything and if you didn’t know already there is a rule about grades and sports at Wachusett. Turns out if you aren’t passing classes you can’t even try out for a team which I get, really I do. Schools are trying to instill good character traits and making sports a privilege. The only problem is for someone like Luke, who doesn’t have the success with school, now they don’t have it with the sports either. Football was out of the question. He made snide comments about not really wanting to play anyway, but only he knows what his true feelings on the matter were. So – no smartypants, no jock.

A couple of other factors were at play that fall. Luke’s self-esteem was taking a hit emotionally and physically. When puberty hit, Luke was one of those kids that had pretty severe acne on his face. He hated it and we tried everything recommended to try and heal it, but nothing really worked well. Luke was very self-conscious about this AND about his body type. Luke was not built like most of his peers – he wasn’t a string bean and could thank his momma for his big ole butt and calves. He hated all of this and had spent many a summer with Pop Warner trying to watch his weight. The group that Luke rolled with are sharp- tongued and I am not convinced that comments weren’t made about Luke being fat. On top of all this, Luke had ended up in a therapy group made up of troubled teens that Luke admitted scared the shit out of him they were so messed up. And yet he was there. What did that make him think about who he was as a human being?

Back to November and Luke has just realized he won’t be able to try-out for basketball. No grades. No tryout. He is crushed and I come home to find him on his bed in the basement curled up and teary. When I ask him what the matter is he cries,

“I don’t know who I am anymore.”

And with those words my heart breaks. He had been the shy kid, the sweet kid, the smart kid, the funny kid, the popular kid, the handsome kid, the football player, and the basketball player, but at this moment in time NONE of these things are him. I don’t think there is anything harder than watching your child struggle in life. I couldn’t fix this for him because, honestly, I didn’t know who he was anymore, either. My boy of old was gone and I was not a fan of who he was evolving into. I had no words. What was I going to say – Maybe try harder in school? Maybe be nicer to your teachers? He would certainly tell me to f#$% off so I stayed silent. I rubbed his back and told him how sorry I was he was feeling that way and asked what I could do to help. But he didn’t say anything and I didn’t do anything. And just like that, I failed him.

So here’s what I need you to know: I know, I know, you are sitting there reading this thinking “Patty, you did the best you could”. The old me would have agreed with you. Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.” and I know better now. Everything Luke was going through was a huge cry for help. Getting a slew of detentions the first month of school is a sign, failing multiple subjects is a sign, dropping activities that you love is a sign, losing your identity is a sign – any or all of these are warnings that something is amiss in the mental health department. We tried to deal with each event as it happened and so did the school, but it was all triage so to speak. We tried to stop the bleeding, but we never once said what caused the cut? If we had looked for the hurting and tried to find solutions instead of Consequencing the shit out of him, well, we will never know, will we?

The moral of the story is if your child is having an experience that seems outside of what you would expect it needs to be addressed. Don’t ignore it at home, don’t ignore it at school. Not sure? Ask someone – your family doctor, a therapist, the teachers, a coach for their opinion or advice on what you are concerned about. Mental health issues are sneaky, friends, and it will take all of us working together to identify the children at risk. What Losing Luke taught me was pain runs deep in even our youngest citizens and children don’t always have the words to let us know. We must use our words to ask, comfort, help find joy, heal. No more band-aids. #NotOneMore

I need you to know

Hug Me!

It is two days before Christmas and I have a lot of thoughts running through my head, but the only thing I want to write about is hugs.  Yep, you read that right.  Hugs.  There is a profoundness and a peace in the act of wrapping your arms around someone and conversely, being wrapped up, that deserves our attention on this day.

I wasn’t raised to be affectionate.  Not that there is blame in that statement, it is simply the truth.  Public signs of affection, you need to remember, have not always been an accepted social action.  You didn’t hug, hold hands, or kiss in front of others gasp!  I was trained to be ever mindful of what other people might think and behaving appropriately was top on that list. It wasn’t until I met Grandpa Halligan (best hugger EVER) that the act of openly demonstrating your love this way become more commonplace in my world.

Children let you hug them, of course, until they don’t, and when that switch goes it is a sad day.  I loved the few short years the boys would snuggle on the couch or maybe run up and wrap their arms around my legs (or the highest they could get to at that time).  lol  There is nothing better than  the exchange of heat and love and trust that flows between a parent and a child when they are cradled together.  Sigh.  Hold on to that one, friends, hold on.

The beauty of the hug is that it works in many different situations and can carry a variety of messages depending on what needs to be conveyed and the parties sharing the embrace.  A hug can mean “I love you”.  It can mean “It is wonderful to see you after so long”.  Maybe it says “I miss you” or “I will miss you”.  A hug is “Congratulations!”   A hug is “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”.  Sometimes when we hold one another it is to offer strength to get through a difficult time or a shoulder to cry on.  And there are times a hug holds us up when we can’t physically do it on our own.  

When Luke passed away an energy worker told me the pain of losing him was radiating off my arms.  The momma in me wanted to hold him and protect him so desperately. Truthfully, I have never gotten over not being able to see and hold Luke after his accident.  The officers convinced me it would be too traumatic, but alas, the result is a different kind of trauma lives on.  

We come out of the womb dependent on human contact for survival and for bonding and for love.  Why do we ever let that go?  We need human touch to remind us that gentleness and caring exist.  We need human contact to pass energy in joyful moments.  We need human connection to soothe and comfort our ailing souls.  When we reach out and put our arms around one another our hearts touch, and in this moment we understand that we are loved, that we matter, that we are not alone.  

So here’s what I need you to know:  The New Year Cometh!  When you are setting your goals for 2019, set a goal to hug everyone you can. There is research that says you need 12 hugs a day to grow as a human being. Isn’t it a bit eye-opening to think you might go somedays without even one?

I believe I am now a professional hugger lol.  I hug hard and I hug often.  I sometimes hug when people don’t really want to hug me lol, but I do it anyway.  I do it because I hope it stays with them and elevates their day, but mostly I do it for me.  I am hugging the hell out of missing Luke.  I am hugging until I can only be happier.  I am hugging until each one of you knows how much I love you.  And I do.  Now come over here and give Miss Patty a big squeeze Xxx

Things that help

Thank Goodness for the Strong, Silent Type

So I have just returned from visiting Logan for his birthday.  His special day was actually yesterday, but hey, he had made plans that did not include his mother. lol  This both amused me and made me very happy.  To know your child is transitioning well to the next phase of their life is comforting and I try not to take it for granted.  When you have spent seventeen years raising a young man who was swirling in emotional turmoil, well, this one is kind of easy.

I wanted to write about Logan because it’s important to make the time to reflect and think about him just as much, if not more than I do my son that no longer walks this planet with me.  And as I went to put fingers to keyboard I grappled with what to write because everything in his life, for this moment, actually for most of his moments, is just pretty darn great.  

I could tell you he is doing well at school.  College life suits him and the classes are appropriately challenging for a student of his caliber. He is disciplined enough to handle the work load and as he was talking about his courses I could hear the confidence in the path he had chosen.

I could tell you he is well-rounded.  Like his brother, he is also a competitive gamer and has done well in his own genre.  He loves basketball and has enjoyed rec sports while at UML.  Disc golf and bowling are also on his list of fun things to do.  Logan is our retro boy. lol He has a turn table and a growing collection of vinyl.  He is an avid reader of philosophy and any book that has made any list of must reads for *serious* readers.  

I could tell you he is a good friend.  He has his own group of guys and gals from Rutland that he has been with since first grade.  Now, at college, he is hanging with those same friends, but also meeting new kiddos and spending time with them.  It makes my heart happy to see his circle growing.  Miss Patty always says.. the older you get the more of your tribe you are bound to meet. 

I could tell you he is a wonderful son.  He buys me Mother’s Day presents and makes my birthday cards by hand.  There is always an element of tongue-in-cheek humor because, after all , it’s Logan Inwood.  He answers me when I text him, lets me hug him when I need to, and still says I love you – in response to me, of course. lol

I could tell you all of this because it is all true, but it doesn’t make for riveting reading.  It’s okay. You can agree with me and it won’t hurt my feelings. 🙂  Really great reading has a problem and a solution, elements of drama, and growing suspense.  But the story of Logan Inwood, thus far, has none of that. It is steady and predictable, and for that, I thank the Universe, and my darling Lolo, of course.  

So here’s what I need you to know:  As a teacher I have always commented that I love a student with personality, but the older I get the more I appreciate the strong, silent type.  The kids that don’t need to have center stage.  The ones that get up and do the right thing every day.  The ones that know how to put their heads down and do the hard work.  The ones we often overlook, because while we are busy managing the kiddos in our lives with emotional and behavioral needs, these ones just quietly manage to get it all done.  SO, if you are the parent of one of these kinds of kids or teach one of these kids, don’t forget what they say – You have to watch out for the quiet ones – but what it should have meant is not for trouble but to make sure they get their cheerleaders, too.  These kiddos might not demand attention, but they sure do deserve it.  They might not make for a riveting read, but they do make for wonderful daughters and sons.  And mine just might be the best. Love you, Logan. Xxx

I need you to know

TayTay

This blog has been allowed, but not yet approved by Miss Taylor LeMay.  Wishing you another year of happiness, my lovely! Xxx

Today we celebrate the pretty princess known as Taylor LeMay. It’s her birthday so make sure you flood her Facebook or Insta or whatever form of social media you use with well wishes.  This girl deserves them. Not only is she a gorgeous human being, inside and out, she kept my boy in line most of the years of his life.  Well, she TRIED. lol  I honestly always imagined that Tay and Luke were going to end up married in the end.  They just understood one another, you know?  And I don’t think Luke respected another human being as much as he respected this girl.  And that is saying something.

Taylor came into our world at Glenwood Elementary School in fifth grade.  I think as soon as Luke saw Taylor he fell in love.  Taylor was a very pretty girl – tall, long blonde hair, and her goal at that age was to grow up to be a model (totally could still do that!).  But I think what Luke loved most about her was her spirit.  This girl was raised to be strong and VERBAL lol  She had no problem telling anyone, especially Luke, where to go and how to get there lol and this quality was the icing on the top of a very beautiful cake.

So, Luke had his sights on Taylor although there is no love in fifth grade. 🙂  I knew he liked her because he still shared at this age, so my heart was broken when I came home from school one day in the spring to find Luke upset in our office.  When I asked what the matter was he responded that another friend had asked Taylor out and she had said YES.  Regardless of what going out looks like at eleven years old, Luke’s heart was genuinely crushed.  The universe corrected itself the next day and Taylor “broke up” with said boy.  For the life of me I can’t remember if Luke and Taylor *went out* after that or not.  What I do know is that a bond was formed that just never let go.

In middle school I think Luke continued to crush on Tay, but she moved on.  They struck some deal early on in sixth grade and went to the eighth grade dance together.  Sigh. Those were happy days.  That group of boys and girls from Rutland made such a strong connection and formed so many memories.  I don’t know all of it – because I’m the mom, lol – but when I listen to the kiddos talk there is laughter in their voices and a twinkle in their eyes and I am in awe thinking about what good friends they all were.

Taylor was in Luke’s life through their social worlds and also through our families.  We all camped together and spent many a weekend having fun and playing volleyball or pong or whatever.  The LeMays were one of the families that went with us to OBX the summer before Luke passed away.  There are no words to describe that trip, lol, but suffice it to say the kids had a great time.

Taylor did her best to keep Luke in check over the years.  She never hesitated to tell him she didn’t like what he was doing or saying or sleeping with and she often told him he shouldn’t talk to his momma that way.  Thank you, girl!  She was the sister he never had and I feel like even though it didn’t always look like it, he always listened to what she said and took it in. I think Taylor loved Luke’s ability to have fun in any situation.  I say this and instantly a picture pops into my head of the two of them covered in toilet paper on the eighth grade field trip.  You’ll have to ask her why but that was also the trip Luke got in trouble for purchasing a Red Sox yamaka that he then wore around Boston till the teachers finally noticed.  Sigh, classic Luke Inwood.

Losing Luke was hard on all of us, but I think when the truth about his suicide came out Taylor, in typical Tay fashion, was angry.  I won’t even pretend to know what Taylor’s feelings were, but when the bond runs that deep and you find out that your best friend, and they were best friends, chose to leave you, well, it would be hard to understand and accept.  I worried that she would be pissed off forever, just to drive him crazy on the other side of the stars, lol, but just last year I ended up in Taylor’s room grabbing my coat after a house party.  I had never been in there before and when I saw the momentos she had displayed in her room about Luke, well, it broke my heart.  To me it signified that Luke lived on for her and that maybe she had forgiven him.  And for that, this momma is grateful.

Right after Luke passed away and we were trying to put all the pieces together, Taylor went over to the crash site to find Luke’s cell phone.  It was missing and we all hoped that if we found it, there might be a clue or some text on there that would give us a little insight into what had happened on that last day.  To hear Taylor tell it, there was car debris and blackened tree limbs all over the place.  She was down on her hands and knees literally combing the whole site and had been at it a while and getting frustrated.  She finally yelled out, “Show me the damn phone, Luke!” and when she turned around, there it was.  Simple as that.  You have to know, that even on the other side of the stars, there was no way Luke wasn’t going to do what she told him to.

So Miss TayTay LeMay, here’s what you need to know:  JB and I loved you then and we love you more now.  We are so proud of the young woman you are becoming.  You have always been my role model of strength and female empowerment  – our own Wonder Woman – and I use to love telling Luke you could kick his ass, easily. lol.  Because you are so strong, you have never needed me, but not a day goes by that I don’t look at pictures of you and our favorite jackass together, and I always stop and think about you and hope that you and your heart are doing okay.  Luke loved you.  I hope you never forget that.  ‘Cause that kind of love, my pretty princess, is forever.  Xxx

 

 

I need you to know

Send In The Clowns

I think every kiddo goes through a phase where they want to be the *funny guy* (or girl as the case may be).  I do not consider myself funny and I didn’t spend much time trying to be the go-to haha person in my class ( I actually don’t mind being the serious type lol), but I distinctly remember in grade 8 really embracing that facet of my personality.  I had a teacher that encouraged drama and the first time the students laughed at my performance, well, I was hooked.  It feels good to make others chuckle.  I personally believe there isn’t anything harder than being really, truly comical and that you have to be damn smart to be witty.

Luke was brought up in a family of characters.  Both of his grandfathers love to use voices to add entertainment value to their interactions, a habit that I also utilize to engage my students.  Luke would tell you his Nana was the only really funny person in the family because she did it low-key and wasn’t *cringy* about it.  That woman has a way with one-liners. lol  John is one of those people you want to be sitting next to at any gathering.  He isn’t a front and center entertainer (usually, lol) but the man is hilarious, appreciates the things that get a guffaw from others, and raised his boys to be connoisseurs of comedy.

So our previously quiet kiddo started honing his humorous side around second grade.  I love watching the kids in my class that want to be the class clown and the efforts they go to trying to capture the attention of the students around  them and it always makes me pause to think about Luke being *that kid*.  Luke had no problem making himself the butt of a joke to make the boys and girls giggle. This was how Luke started to assert his personality in his early elementary years.  It was all in good fun and he was the one making faces or making fun of himself.  His sarcasm and ability to mercilessly tease others didn’t come about till middle school.  Thank goodness! lol  Once started, Luke never lost his ability to put a smile on somebody’s face (“Mrs. Hurl – How would I look in a speedo?”) and it is the most frequent descriptor from those who loved him best.  His friends.

So here’s what I need you to know:  As a mom and teacher I bear witness to children trying on different personas to try and fit in and find their place with their peers every day.  If your child is going through the comedy phase and it makes you roll your eyes, or any other phase, truth be told, let them be.  Figuring out who you are and where you fit in the social ladder takes some time.  It’s like buying a pair of shoes.  You try on each personality – the smart kid,  the jock, the funny kid – tossing aside the ones that are too big or too small or pinch until you find the one that matches who you are on the inside and the one that really, truly makes your heart happy.   And no matter how you feel about it, Mom and Dad, this persona is important.  It might also not be who they are at home and that is A Okay.  How our child presents themselves to the world is their business.  I say Send in the Clowns! Xxx

I need you to know