September 2011. It’s Freshman Year for Luke Inwood at Wachusett Regional High School. From what I remember Luke was mostly excited to start ninth grade. He was happy to move on from the academic fiasco that was his last year at Central Tree and looking forward to a fresh start. He had a plan and his friends by his side and he was ready to fly. He had HOPE.
Week One was fine. lol Week One, people. Luke managed to catch the bus and get to his classes and do some work. In Week Two reality started to set in. Luke struggled with sleeping and the subsequent getting up on time for school part instantly became challenging. That darn bus arrived at our door at 6:40. 6:40 for crying out loud! That is torture in any kid’s books. Having your mother standing at the door yelling, “You have five minutes till the bus gets here! You have three minutes till the bus gets here!” and so on, must have also really helped to start the day in a positive mind set. :/ Yep, that was me. Being *helpful*. True story. Sigh.
Well, high school, it turns out, friends, is not all Friday Night Lights and Spirit Days. There is work to be done. It didn’t take long for Lukester to recognize that school at any grade, including grade nine, is the same thing – forty-five minute blocks where you have to focus and pay attention and be quiet and follow the rules and try. None of these items were high on Luke’s list of the Top Ten Ways to Spend the Day. Crack jokes from the back of the room to generate laughter? Sure. Homework? Not so much.
Needless to say, it didn’t take too long for old habits to surface and next thing I know John is calling to say he has heard from the Assistant Principal and Luke is in trouble for sassing a teacher. Hello Detention Number One. A few days later he pulls out his phone when he isn’t supposed to and then won’t hand it over. Detention Number Two. And so on and so on and so on. Luke hit double digits in d-halls in the first few weeks of school. Double digits! Truthfully, I can look back now and shake my head and sort of laugh thinking about how incredulous this was, but when we were living it…. no freaking way. It was stressful trying to will Luke or cajole Luke or just straight up yell at Luke to do the right thing or at the very least just get out of his own dang way. We had all hoped for a new beginning. We were all still hoping, but when it comes to mental illness, sometimes hope is not enough.
So here’s what I need you to know: Boy, did I fail Parenting a Hard Child 101. Everyone has advice for you when you are raising a tough kiddo, but no matter what anyone suggests, it doesn’t make it any less HARD. I spent almost 24 hours a day trying to figure out Luke and how to *help* him. It was exhausting – mentally and physically. If you have your own hard child you know exactly what I am talking about. Turns out, me helping him was not HIM helping HIM which is the only thing that matters. When we swoop in as parents to try and clear the path of problems, or save the day after a problem has occurred for our child it is not helping. Repeat after me – IT IS NOT HELPING lol. It was not my job to go downstairs every morning to wake Luke up for school. It was not my job to go downstairs every morning ten minutes later to remind him to get up. It was not my job to yell from the top of the stairs every morning ten minutes after that to tell Luke to get up. Insert chuckle. You see my point. And you’re laughing, but there is somewhere in your parenting style where you do this exact same thing. ( Unless you are Heather LeMay because that woman WROTE the parenting manual. 🙂 I love you Heather! ) SO if I might gently suggest one thing it would be this – teach your child to be independent. Teach them how to tie their own shoes, pack their own snacks, set their own alarm clocks.
And if they can’t figure it out by a developmentally appropriate age, like Freshman year? Well, friends, then we have another kind of problem. But that is a blog for another day. Sending all my parents out there strength and love. Xxx