This year I have received phone calls from James’ school on a regular basis due to the fact that he’s stressed out, overwhelmed and crying and they feel that he needs to come home. Let me say that I have requested that the school notify me in these situations as I don’t believe it is their responsibility to manage this, nor do I think it’s OK for me as a mother to not go to him when he’s distressed. However, I work full time and have other families and children who rely on me. It’s difficult to manage it all. At the end of the day, James could be my full time job. There are IEP meetings, specialist’s appointments, daily meetings with the teacher, notes of communication between school and home, and then all the trouble shooting stuff. I am constantly reading, researching, looking for ‘better’ ways to do things, trying to make sure that we’re supporting him to the very best of our ability. I also feel a huge responsibility to the school and his teacher, who have been wonderful! I do worry that his teacher and teacher aide might find it rather overwhelming at times. I know they love him and I do too, but I know how exhausting he can be. Sometimes when things are a little off track, I choose to keep him at home or with a grandparent for the day, just to give everyone a break. I cannot emphasise the huge importance for parents to always act in partnership with the school. We need to build a community of support around our children and everyone within the group needs to be supported and cared for. This is the only model that ensures the happiness and success of your child, and all those around them.
The process of advocating for your child is tricky and often fraught with peril. You need to work in partnership with all of your child’s support people, however sometimes you need to give some gentle reminders to ensure that everything that needs to be done is actually being done. Sometimes you have to field inappropriate questions or criticism from other parents about your child, and you must handle this diplomatically whilst still advocating for your child. Sometimes you have to keep going back to that Medical Specialist over and over again until you are confident that your child is on the appropriate treatment plan. Again, you need to do this gently and firmly, always advocating for your child. In truth, sometimes I do just want to ‘lose my lollies’ (James still asks me where I lost my lollies when I use this expression! HA!) and tell people right off but it’s entirely counter-productive. You have to build a community of support around your child, and you won’t do that by being difficult and burning bridges with people. It’s not always easy … but it really is necessary and right. You get much further with sugar than with spice in this world!!!!!