Dear Grade 1 Mom
I know it took a lot of courage to call me and talk to me about your son. I will be honest – I’ve been wanting to call you or to catch you in the school yard – I’ve wanted to reach out to you since our boys were in JK together. When we went on the fieldtrip to the horse ranch and your son struggled. I wanted to reach out to you then but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know where you were in the journey, I didn’t know if what I would have said would have felt supportive or if my words would have cut like a knife.
I should have thought back to when C was in JK – how I felt so much like an outsider. His epic meltdowns at school events and the one and only birthday party he got invited to – parents actually moving away from us, recoiling in horror as I lead my boy out of the party room. The feeling of being judged. The absolute shame as a parent and gut wrenching sorrow I felt for my son – so misunderstood. I should have remembered how much it meant to me when one or two parents reached out, however tentatively and awkward, trying to understand and to give support.
So when you called a few weeks ago and began to share, trying to figure out how to allow your son to come to a party he so desperately wanted to attend and yet you were quite sure he could not handle – I eagerly jumped in. I offered “I don’t know how much you might know about my older son C and his struggles . . . ” I began. I could almost feel your relief through the phone as you began to ask questions and to marvel at the similarities between our two boys. Your relief as I also explained that I work with exceptional kids and their families. That truthfully, your boy won’t bring anything to this party that I haven’t seen or dealt with before – personally or professionally. When I extended the invitation that wholeheartedly he, and you, and his sister – anyone and everyone that he wants – is welcome in our home at our party. When I suggested that should he need time away from the craziness that would be 17 6 year olds and that he could go on our computer or watch a movie or play in J’s room – I think you might have started crying from the relief.
I want you to know that when your son was the first one out in the first game – I SO would NOT have planned it that way but I would have understood if he had melted down and I would have been right there with you, offering any support I could have. When he looked around and announced “That’s ok, I’ll try harder next time” and happily moved away from the group, I want you to know I did have tears in my eyes – the wonder that is your boy to have come so far so fast. You had every right to be so proud that night. I am so happy we got to be part of his magical night. I am happy for you that you got to witness his success and to witness the kindness of so many of his classmates who intuitively knew what he needed and made sure he was included – even before I could move in!
In case anyone hasn’t told you this lately – you are a wonderful mom and he is going to be ok. So much more than OK – He’s FABULOUS and so are you!