The day I went in for Luke’s IEP meeting, I was nervous. If you didn’t read last time, John and I were at our wit’s end with regard to Luke and his difficulties with school, and we were really depending on his team of educators to help us come up with a plan to get Luke through the next two years. We knew he wasn’t going to Harvard. Heck, we knew he was barely going to pass his classes. We just wanted to get him through.
So I show up at the Guidance office at 7:35 am and they escort me to a conference room across the hall. Everyone is already there and each face turns toward me as I come in. As a teacher, I love to meet the parents behind each student. I think I am always surprised by exterior characteristics – that parents aren’t just larger versions of their kiddos, lol, but the interior characteristics are almost always a match. That student who struggles to say much during class discussions quite often has a parent who sits quietly during conferences. That kiddo that comes in every day with a sunny, positive attitude? Probably a caregiver who radiates, as well. I don’t want to generalize, but a correlation can usually be made. So, in I walk, and I wonder what those teachers were expecting? Someone angry? Defensive? It most definitely wasn’t Miss Mary Poppins here. 🙂
The meeting was an eye-opener. Remember, I had only heard Luke’s side of the story about what was happening at high school. According to him, every teacher was a shrew and out to get him and make his life difficult. What I heard that day were teachers using best practices to help my boy, and concern about what wasn’t working, and ideas around how to get him help. These were invested educators who were also stymied over how to best move Luke forward. I was pleasant through the whole process. I was grateful when the team decided Luke qualified for an IEP which in turn meant he would have an ASR block in his schedule. I thought he was SAVED.
When I got up to leave, one of the teacher’s stood up and shook my hand.
“It was nice to meet you,” she said. “You are not at all what I was expecting.” I remembering chuckling or smiling in response and going on my way, but that comment stayed with me. Exactly who did they think was raising Luke Inwood?
So here’s what I need you to know: Hard kiddos happen to good people. We are a society that likes to pass judgement and no more so than on other parents. Surely, if that kid is a f – up, his or her parents are doing something wrong. Is he running wild? Don’t they have expectations? Consequences? And my personal favorite – “If that child lived under my roof, I would never allow any of that behavior. That kid would be fixed.” Oh, to be so righteous! You know what I know about my fellow parents raising hard kids? They are TIRED and they are TRYING and they are SCARED. Scared that any one of the horrible outcomes they worry about night after night might actually happen, and they are struggling like hell to try and ward off the evils. It is EXHAUSTING. Let me say it again – Hard kiddos happen to good people, friends. These parents already judge themselves enough. Let’s instead extend our patience and understanding and support. You know what the Good Book says, “But for the Grace of God go I.” Xxx