I am not sure why I am writing this. Perhaps it is simply to get it out of my brain, if even for a few minutes, perhaps it is to not feel so alone. Perhaps it is because someone, somewhere, out there will have some sort of magical answer that will somehow make all of this better.
The very harsh reality that we now face as a family is that our oldest daughter started this school year as a fairly well-adjusted eight-year-old who liked school, was nervous about making friends as the new kid, but was known as being kind, helpful and as a hard worker despite the obstacles she faced.
And then the school year happened. And the bullying happened. And life seemingly turned upside down from what we knew or at the very least thought we knew.
We now end the year with a kid who is angry a lot, sad a lot, who hates school, begs us not to send her, and worries that she will never be liked by her peers. Who snaps for little reason, has insomnia, and has continued to face learning obstacles that we have not been able to address because her mental health comes first before we think about reading intervention.
We now end the year with a kid that can go from being happy one moment to completely devasted the next. Who yells so much, I sometimes forget what it sounds like to have a normal conversation with her. Who asks for our protection and we know there is only so much we can do. And yes, we have her seeing someone both in and out of school, but it does not seem to be enough. Nothing seems to be enough.
While the rational part of me knows that there is not much more we could have done to protect her, I cannot help but feel like we did this somehow. Like we somehow failed to equip her with the tools she needed to survive this school year. That perhaps if we had raised our voices sooner. If we had yelled louder. If we had seen the signs. If we had taught her how to change her personality. If we had not moved to our new house. If we had not switched schools. If only…
As parents, we pick up the pieces of our children every day. We marvel at times over the miracles they are, over how they grow. Over how they seemingly become this incredible person we always knew they would be.
But sometimes the pieces seem to no longer fit. We wonder where this child came from and how we need to parent now. We love, even when they yell. We hug, even when they say they don’t need it. And we keep telling them that they are beautiful. That they are smart. That they have worth. Even when they don’t believe us because the words of other children now speak louder than whatever we could say.
This year, we count down the days until school’s out in this house, something we have never done. (17 days tomorrow). We tell her just one more day, tell your teacher if you need to, look for a friend, hold your head up high. And we hold our breath for the bus to bring her home, waiting to see what will be unleashed as she walks through our door.
I can’t help but think of how I somehow failed as a parent. Failed to protect. Failed to guard. Failed to fix. But perhaps it was never that simple?