Tomorrow marks the end of another chapter more so for Matthew but for Mike and I as well. Grade 8 will officially be in the books as Matt attends his final day of class for the school year. Nicely enough it will actually be a Field Trip day and not a day actually in the classroom. He will be spending the day at a local stable. How appropriate for our boy who loves the outdoors and animals.
If I were to say that I was sad to see this school year come to an end it would be a complete lie. This has probably been the most trying year we have put in since Matthew started school. There were so many issues. Too many. And not just for Matthew; for us as well.
Policies were not adhered to, needs were not met, programs were not followed and frustration levels rose for all of us. What caused this? I’ll try to explain. Since Matthew entered junior high school the goal of his educators has been to give Matthew that little word that has simultaneously caused my stomach to turn – independence. *sigh*
They have worked (too hard at times) to push Matthew to become more independent. More independent than what he was capable of, in my opinion. But we sat back and allowed the system to show us what they could do to bring independence to our son’s world. We knew in our heart of hearts where the year was going to go but in order to prove a point we decided (ultimately at Matthew’s expense) to let them take the reigns and show us (and themselves) how this was all going to play out. It unravelled much as I suspected it would.
Meltdown after stress attack Matthew’s frustration grew. His new mantra became “I hate school.” Awesome! The feelings and emotions that we have worked tirelessly over the last few years to dissipate have all come to the surface again with a vengeance. We had to step in to try to salvage what took years to accomplish. Something had to change – and fast.
You see, Matthew has the extraordinary ability to hold it all together at school. He may get frustrated to a degree and he may react to his environment in a less than appropriate way but that pales in comparison to how he actually feels and once he arrives home we get the affects of his day ten-fold. It hasn’t been easy.
The demands put on him were too high. The levels of expectancy were too great. He had no advocates by his side in his classroom this year. He had educators who thought they knew what was best and where he should be on the independence scale. Whose scale I’m not sure, but certainly not one that positively encouraged him to succeed in the manner in which is needed to. The quest to bring Matthew to independence backfired and made his needs greater and his stressors much more magnified than they had to be.
During the time when Matthew’s academic catastrophe of a school year was at its peak, I found myself in the middle of a whirlwind that I was quite sure would break me. Due to an unnecessary culmination of events I felt the need to exit from a road that over the past year I enjoyed being on. It was a road that could have allowed me to advocate on a higher level, a road that could have seen me make a difference with strength in numbers, a road that could have taken me to a place I have never been. Instead the road ultimately led me to a place where I had to make a decision. Do I continue to pursue my dream ignoring my morals and values or do I take a stand – a stand for my son and my family? I took a stand. I could not continue to travel the road that could have been and should have been laid out so differently. My first experience attempting to publicly advocate for a cause near to my heart ended up blowing up in my face. Am I bitter? No. Do I feel as though I should have anything differently? Perhaps. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Regret is such a wasted emotion. Have I learned? Indeed. And I think that’s the only thing keeping me going at this point. The lessons I learned from a bad experience will be something I carry with me for a long time. Live and learn, as they say.
So I bid a fond farewell to the 2011-12 school year. Many changes have been made and incorporated to ensure that next year’s school year is less trying for us all. Matthew deserves this. Matthew has the right to enjoy going to school, to enjoy learning and to enjoy gaining independence. Not having it shoved down his throat whether or not he is ready for it. There’s a big difference.
We are obviously going to have to do our job as his parents meticulously. We are going to have to remain the watch dog and assume nothing. We’re down to 4 years until he finishes high school. There’s such a long way to go.
Until next time…