There are FOURTEEN days left of this school year. FOURTEEN. And I can not wait until it’s over. This school year has been rough from start to finish. I’ve questioned my parenting I’ve worried… I’ve stressed… I’ve prayed… and ultimately blamed myself for the problems of this year.
First grade was a milestone of some sorts for BJ. He’d looked forward to the first grade since before the kindergarten. I’m not sure if it was because it was a number grade and made him feel more like a “big boy.” So we both started this school year with big smiles and enthusiasm. And then at about a month into the school year I was called into a parent teacher conference. I arrived and was greeted by my son’s teacher, his teacher from the prior year, a math specialist and a reading specialist who informed me that they wanted to move BJ back to kindergarten. I felt blindsided. I had no idea he was behind. His kindergarten teacher never suggested he be held back at the end of the prior year… so this was a huge shock to me. And I knew it would tear my poor BJ apart. I left that meeting in tears. And called my village. My friends and family were just as outraged as I was. I decided that going back to kindergarten was not an option. I’d do whatever it took, pay whatever I could, to get him the help he needed but I would NOT sacrifice his self esteem and move him back to kindergarten. Damaged self esteem is so hard to mend.
I enlisted the help of a tutor who has since become a close friend and we began the process of finding out exactly where he was and what he needed. BJ’s teacher sent Crystal his curriculum and lesson plans so they could work on what was missed last year and what he was learning this year. This school year has been countless meetings and emails. Doctor’s appointments and working extremely hard to push BJ without stressing him out or making him feel like he’s behind. This is where Crystal flourished… he actually LOOKED FORWARD to tutoring. I’d hear them laughing and her gently redirecting him and his confidence never wavered. Teaching is her calling and you can tell when I watched her with BJ.
Two days ago I got an excited email from BJ’s teacher. She couldn’t wait until the papers went home and wanted to be the one to personally tell me that BJ passed the benchmark test. Which means he is now testing at the same level as his peers in math. This is HUGE. I read the email and had to force myself not to cry tears of joy. All of the hard work paid off. And so much stress and anxiety has been relieved. We still have some hurdles to pass in reading. But as I told him “he learned more math this year than anyone in his class. And you never gave up. You can do anything you puts his mind to.” I’m so incredibly proud of him and even better… BJ is extremely proud of HIMSELF. He has had to overcome so much in his 7 years. I remember crying in my car at one point this year because it was so unfair to me that he has to go through so much. But he still has so much joy. I thank God for his resilience.
I told him that his job is school. And my job is to protect him and make sure he has everything he needs. I felt like such a failure for the better part of this year. But with that passing test so much anxiety and fear was lifted. It can be done. The counting in the car… the nights we were both so frustrated with each other (I’m not a very good tutor… I tend to loose patience LOL)… the breakdowns I had a long the way because I was so worried that my son’s future wouldn’t be bright because he was struggling so much academically. I needed a win… an area that I could say we were okay in. And now we have one…
Sunday the boys and I are having an ice cream float party with his tutor, Crystal, and my best friend Keshun, (who is a school counselor) and steered me through the maze of advocacy this year, who said “I’m going to email you a letter you add a little fluff and then send it to his teacher” and got just as angry as I did when I called her crying after that parent teacher meeting. She taught me laws and what the school had to do to assist BJ and would check in to make sure that I was on top of the administration at the school so that BJ had all of the academic support he needed. I thank God every day for continuing to add people to my life who support and encourage me and the boys.
And I thank God for victories… that come along to encourage me just when I begin feeling hopeless.
We’re celebrating this week…
Way to go BJ!!!!