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September 2020

Sometimes I Say the Wrong Thing

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of former students. Sigh, It makes a teacher happy to see her kiddos grow up and do well. We were creating a sidewalk chalk mural of Welcome Back greetings at school and their siblings still attend B.E.S, so these young ladies came along to help. Once a Kindness Club member, always a Kindness Club member! As I was getting ready to finish up and head back home, I took the opportunity to check in on one of the girls

“How are you feeling about going back in person?” I asked.

“I was okay, but I am started to get worried,” she replied. And then she launched into what sounded like a million concerns she had circling around her brain. Now this young lady has always struggled with anxiety. Her thought process can jump to a worse case scenario in t-minus ten seconds and despite being AWESOME, she believes every negative word her brain tells her. I spent the time we were together in a classroom building her confidence and her strategies to cope with her anxiety. Naturally, I jumped right into these old ways.

*You’re stronger than you think.

*You are an excellent mathematician.

*I know your best friend is in the other class, but there isn’t any mingling anyway so you will make new relationships with the kiddos in your cohort.

*Remember how worried you were about starting middle school? This isn’t any different. One day in and it will feel like business as usual.

And on and on. She listened, but I could tell from her body language and the look on her face, she wasn’t quite convinced. And in hindsight, I realized I didn’t blame her. I had said all the wrong things.

Now don’t get me wrong… what I said to her wasn’t horrible. I was trying to boost her up and remind her of all the things about her that are fantastic and able to help her in this situation. But that wasn’t what she needed from me in that moment. I was trying to cheerlead her and downplay her emotions. UGH!! Classic quickdraw response, but I know better.

What she needed from me in that moment was to let her speak her truth. She needed to get all those fears and worries out of her mind and off her chest without someone, me in this instance, trying to fix those emotions. It is incredibly difficult to bear witness to someone who is in pain, but just listening is such an important help to that individual. How many times have you heard me say it doesn’t matter whether a person’s perspective is your truth? It’s true to them and we have to honor that. When someone shares a vulnerable part of themselves all they want in return is for someone to say… I hear you.

The next thing she needed from me was to make her feel like she wasn’t alone in those feelings and concerns. I should have said, “You know, B, I think we are all a little afraid right now about going back to school…” and maybe talked about my own hesitancy. When we are in the height of anxiety we feel like everyone around us has their act together and that we are the only one freaking out and that is never the case. Raise your hand if your emotions are on high alert going into this school season? Yep, too many of us to count! I missed an opportunity to help her understand that just because she isn’t privy to reading the thoughts of her classmates, doesn’t mean they don’t share her same concerns.

Instead of trying to fix her thought process with my words, I wish I had asked her about other times she had felt this way and how she handled it. Young people need to recognize that life is full of challenges and as hard as it can feel, we have it in us to push through and get to the other side. Nothing teaches this like experience. Maybe it was a soccer game, or a dance recital, or those damn MCAS tests, that she remembers being afraid of, but doing it anyway, and living to tell the tale. This is another one of those reasons why, as parents, we shouldn’t be handling our kiddos challenges. They NEED them to build confidence in their ability to handle a tough situation.

And finally, I wish I had reminded her about the joy. When Life is handing you a shitstorm, so to speak, one of the best strategies you can adopt is to identify the activities that make your heart happy and spend time doing that. This young lady loves to read. And tap dance, lol. She used to tap her whole way down the hallway. I should have told her when she starts to hyperventilate thinking about lockers and math assignments, to give herself an hour of *her* time. Of joy time. When I can’t stop the tears or the terrors or the tenseness of my life… I throw my schedule to the wind and get outside. Walking in the woods, laying with my face to the sun.. or the stars… slows my breathing and lifts the weight off my chest.

So my beautiful girl…. I messed up. Even Mrs. Inwood says the wrong thing every once in a while. But I do know my last words to you were the most important and I hope you remember them and hold them close.

You’ve got this.

I believe in you.

I love you.

Words we should say to each other every day. Together we get through. Xxx

I need you to know

Eric

Once upon a time, in a small kingdom in the countryside, there was a Queen. She had recently been thrust upon the throne after the death of her son, King Luke. King Luke had been a popular ruler and his death had caused the people to turn to his mother for guidance and support. What they didn’t know was behind the closed doors of the palace, the Queen herself was lost without her boy.

Enter young Eric. Eric and the King had been best friends and had traveled the countryside together on many a joyous adventure. King Luke’s death was unexpected and left Eric a bit untethered in this world. He spent much time at the palace in the days and weeks following, and observing the Queen’s distress, made it his job to take care of her.

When the Queen was having a hard time, no matter the hour, she would text Eric and he would always respond. ALWAYS. The Queen tried to keep these exchanges light, as she didn’t want to add to Eric’s own distress and frankly, the goal was to lighten her own heart, so the humor was a distraction. He would share crazy stories of his times with her son, favorite movies and books, gossip from the Kingdom. Eric was the Queen’s connection to all things “Luke” and being seventeen and it made the Queen feel like she was right there living her son’s life vicariously through Eric. He called her Bro and Dude… most unconventional as she was Queen, but it made her giggle so she allowed it.

After spending that first summer in almost daily contact of some sort, young Eric went off to college. Their correspondence abruptly came to an end and although the Queen wanted to reach out, she knew how important it was for the young man to go forth and learn. She didn’t want him to be stuck in the past with her – she wanted him to move forward. You can imagine her delight when one cold November day, waiting patiently for her carriage to be gassed up, she heard the words “I would recognize that hair anywhere, lol” and it was young Eric! Somehow, seeing one another in person reminded the two of how much they missed the other, and their relationship picked up where it left off. Eric would try to visit the Queen whenever he was in the Kingdom, almost always bringing a sidekick or two. These visits were cherished by the Queen and her husband, the Duke of Barry. They appreciated that the young lads made time for them, especially with Luke being gone.

Eric not only took care of the Queen, but he also adopted Luke’s younger brother, Logan, as his own. Logan adored Eric. They shared a taste for fashion, hair, music, philosophy – all things young gentleman should be aware of, lol. It made the Queen’s heart swell to see Logan and Eric together as she understood the void left by Luke. Eric’s favor grew as he took the young Prince under his wing.

One day, the Queen posted on Social Media that she was having a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” It had been a particularly dastardly day where grief was concerned and upon seeing this message, Eric quickly reached out to the Queen. “What’s wrong?” he wanted to know. Unbeknownst to Eric, the Queen’s sadness had been lifted by their mutual friend, Billy. Billy had a job at that time, tending to the Kingdom, and so he was close by and delivered a most wonderful hug to cure the Queen. Eric, although happy to hear the Queen was better, admitted he was disappointed it wasn’t HIM that helped the Queen in her distress. “I like to be the one to save the day,” he told her. ” I want to be the white knight.” And there it was. It turns out young Eric had created his own quest – to serve and support the Queen, in honor of his lost friend, no matter what the cost. A gallant quest, indeed.

Like all fairytales, this one, too, has a happy ending. The friendship between Eric and the Queen only grew in depth and love over time. They understand one another and accept each other – faults and all. She forgives him when He forgets to use his manners every once in a while.. okay OFTEN, lol. He tolerates it when She nags him about love and life choices. Still, whereas at one time, Eric filled the role of the *missing son*, now he has his own space in the Queen’s heart. He is family of his own right.

Time passed and although Eric moved to the big Kingdom of Boston, he still made the trek back to the countryside when he could. The Duke of Barry dominated Eric’s visits to the castle, (they share a love of ale), but the Queen didn’t mind. That Eric still came to visit and catch up was the most important thing. It was on this last visit that the Queen decided on an act long overdue and a scribed a proclamation.

“On this day, let it be known that for some five years, Eric has been a steadfast protector of the Queen’s heart. For this service and for his unwavering love and support, he has earned the title of knight of the Rutland Round Table. Arise, Sir Eric, and thank you for undertaking such an important quest. You have my thanks. You have my heart.”

And so, Sir Eric took his rightful place in the palace and they all lived happily ever after. THE END.

So here’s what I need you to know: There is no way Eric would tolerate me sharing most of what has transpired between us these past five years. How embarrassing, he would say, lol. And I realized I will never be able to put into words what having Eric in my world means to me. If you see me when I am with him, you know I never stop smiling. If you see me when I talk about him, you know I practically beam. This kid… well, this young man now… has brought me through some incredibly difficult days. He is my friend, my son, my pain in the ass, lol. I love you, Eric. Forever and always. Xxx

I need you to know