How my Son Refusing School Trained Me as a Parent During a Pandemic
Since November of last year, my 7 year old son has refused grade one classes except for a couple of hours once a week at most. His attendance on his term three report clocked 64 school days absent by Mar 2.
We actually were beginning to make progress — having implemented a much more comprehensive plan and getting assistance at the district level from the District VP of Supported Learning. However we still had not been able to get M to return to class.
But when the order came that schools would now be suspended indefinitely, you could almost hear the collective gasp of parents everywhere over the realization that they were now going to have their children at home indefinitely.
I had a startling revelation: THIS is what my last 4.5 months have been FOR.
To prepare me for THIS: putting pause on my newly budding counselling career in order to BE with my child (and now BOTH children) and not know WHEN it would end is exactly now the dilemma of millions of parents everywhere.
One friend starkly commented at the news that school was suspended, “Brace yourselves mamas”…and I sheepishly told her how I wasn’t overwhelmed as I had JUST navigated and have been “in-training”for this exact scenario for the last 4.5 months prior.
I have weathered the huge waves of anxiety over how my child will fare without having formal education.
I have had to navigate the outbursts of my frustration of being “stuck” with my kid at home when there were a million other things I needed (and wanted to be doing)
I have had to wrestle with my parenting philosophy and second-guessed my methodology because the usual forms of discipline no-longer worked.
I also came to the realization that the landscape at home now called for new ways to see my kids and what they needed.
I have broken up countless sibling battles fuelled by the deficit that one feels while the other acts out and is so much more noticeable when both kids are at home.
I have gone down the guilt laden highway of employing means such as tech and TV in order to maintain sanity and civility in the household while I’m trying to make dinner or just so I can have a shower.
And I say this not to boast but rather now feel with great compassion for the millions of parents who will find themselves in my shoes very soon in the coming weeks.
The last 4.5 months have been the most challenging in parenting since I had my first child 9 years ago. I have never felt more challenged to really dig deep and figure out how to STAND for what my children need, and actually BE the parent I aspire to be and now just wish I was — because my children NEED ME to.
Besides challenging from a parenting perspective, perhaps the real suffering for me was feeling like I was doing it alone. Trying to figure it all out, feeling the roller coaster of feelings that come with it and somehow not completely lose myself in the process was a lonely, agonizing process. Along the way I had to learn to ask for help and build my own support web to carry me through.
So now as I see the quirky irony that my son who was so in the minority two weeks ago is now in the majority of kids and parents alike everywhere, I feel called to serve. To put my struggle to use and offer parents support to inspire that they too can survive as parents in the months ahead.
And not just survive — but seize a very unique opportunity to actually THRIVE in the months ahead.
As hard as the last 4.5 months have been I have given my children gifts in building the kind of relationship with them that would never have happened had my son not refused to go to school. We have taken terrible conflict and meltdowns and turned them into miracles of growth and adaptation.
And THIS could be millions of parents too everywhere. WE all have the golden opportunity ahead of us to actually BE the family we always wished for. To be connected, to teach our kids things we wish our own parents had had time to teach us if they weren’t away, to hold our kids in hard places the way we wish we had and finally to inspire our kids in the ways we wished we could but were too busy at work or with careers.
And I’d like to help.
I’m opening an online support group to 8 (max 12) willing parents that wish to find the support they need that allowed me to show up the way my kids need me to be.
A place to learn the parenting insights that took me 4.5 months to learn by trial and error. Parenting struggles/dilemmas like:
- How to stay caring Alpha in extenuating/unusual circumstances
- How NOT to feed already high levels of anxiety in our children
- How PLAY has been the therapeutic healing piece to quell anxiety
- How recognizing that BRIDGING the divide of what is missing and matchmaking, has given me the ability to transition my son BACK to school (can you imagine our children’s response to school after being way from it for over 5 months? There will be more than a few kids like my son come back to school time)
- what ARE the alternative education options for my children out there other than traditional brick and mortar school? Am I really fit to HOMESCHOOL? (the surprising answer was/IS: YES)
- how GRIEVING my own losses for myself personally has allowed me to continue to show up as the parent my son needed me to be
- And most importantly A place to safely put our own trials and tribulations, laughs and groans about our journey in the next several months. To share a collective laugh, cry collective tears and find true adaptation and growth in the most trying of circumstances in our lifetime as parents of kids with school aged -children.
Please contact me if you would like to participate in this ON-LINE group: https://www.facebook.com/vibrantconnectionscounselling/
It was a VILLAGE that got me through the last 4.5 months and it will take a new kind of village to make it through the coming months with our kids.