Sometimes things happen in life that force you take stock. As some of you may remember it was about this time last year that our son began to deal with some life-threatening issues including several suicide attempts. As a family we struggled to support him, we learned more about the mental health care system in PA and in particular, the Wellspan version of “behavioral health”. Most of all we learned that there was no system and there was no care. Our son came through this year because of his own strength, because of the love of his family and friends, and because we found an amazing program, the Anasazi Foundation, that helped all of us see the power of WE, and the importance of creating a belonging place.
Well, it is spring, right? It is a year later. So, this must mean another transition is upon us. And, sure enough, here we are. Both of our boys – 12 and 17 – left the school they had been attending since we came to PA in 2009. This week they started a new school, the public school in our district. Yes, there are only 2 months left in the semester! I cannot even put into words the anxiety I have experienced anticipating this week for them. And, if I had this much anxiety how must they feel? How can we survive more upheaval and insecurity and all of the things that go along with a transition such as this particularly in the context of the hell that our family has been through this last year.
We survive by trusting our children. We survive by trusting that sometimes things are not what they seem and change is the only option.
The boys jumped right in both feet. After a weekend of fishing and reflection of course. I was sick all day Monday just thinking of what might happen, what they must be feeling, were we making the right decision…and, on and on and on.
Trust your children. Our younger son came home and looked at us and said, “Today was my best day of school ever!” It took everything I had to not sob all over him. Really? Best day ever? Yup, best day ever. “I was totally accepted.” Who can argue with something we all take for granted, acceptance. And, no one called me a faggot because I have long hair. Oh, and cute girls.
Our older son started yesterday, again with the nerves, worrying, looking at the clock. While not as enthusiastic as his brother -he is a teenager- he said it was pretty good, and that he knew it would be a good place to be. His big thing was support. And he has been supported by his peers. I knew all was right with the world when he pulled up in a friend’s car at 345p at the house, on his first day. Oh, and that friend, an 8p curfew. Sweet.
So, now dad and I can breathe. We trusted our children. We had not been listening. Now it’s time to trust, to listen, to believe. Will they have bad days? Of course. Will we have more transitions? Of course. Will we survive them? Absolutely, as a family and with the strength of our love and our will to rise above.
As I was considering this post I ran across a blog called Parentfurther and they have this advice for supporting your kids through a transition like this:
C.H.A.N.G.E.S. – 6 Tips for Supporting Kids When They Change Schools