“Mama, keep me in school….”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my teen say those words in the past six months. I really wanted to honor her request and make public school work out but when I found myself crying in the allergist’s office yesterday morning after arguing with the gal at the desk at the pediatrician, I knew it was time to make a change. My stomach hurt, I wasn’t sleeping and I was starting to feel like I was losing my mind. Not a good thing. But, for those of you that don’t know our story, let me back up and give you the Cliff’s Notes version.
My fourteen year-old Rosie was diagnosed with migraines at the start of 6th grade. What we originally thought were tummy issues because she had them her whole life really wound up being migraines. The first year after the diagnosis wasn’t so bad. While the first medication prescribed made her suicidal, we seemed to be able to keep them in check. When she had one, she’d miss school and because we wanted her to be “normal” we just kept the migraines a secret.
Last year, they spiraled out of control. We had a cancer scare in November that was really a bad sports injury. My daughter was sidelined from dance for months. And, then there was the bullying. Lots of it. By last April, we were attending school sporadically and fighting to get all the work done. Since my daughter’s a perfectionist, she still wanted to get A’s despite the fact that she was seriously behind with her work. We wound up in the hospital twice and didn’t finish the school year. That was when I offered to home school- my child said no.
Going into this year, we had a lot more knowledge and resources at our disposal. We began to openly discuss Rosie’s migraines with family and friends. Started working with our neurologist, psychologist and social worker at the hospital to figure out what accommodations we’d need to keep Rosie in school and we met with our middle school before the year even began to be sure we were on top of it all. I thought we were off to a good start. Unfortunately, we weren’t.
The first week, Rosie had a migraine. The second, we wound up in the emergency room. Truth be told, we’ve been in school since mid-August and we’ve never been there an entire week. In fact, we’ve made it only two or three days a week. The plan- it wasn’t working. Rosie was behind on her work and couldn’t get caught up even though all her teachers were very understanding. Then we found out our drill team grade- F. Rosie missed a pep assembly. It was 20 points and we could make it up by making posters or practicing but that wasn’t so easy.
Call me crazy, but I’m a believer that the core classes come first. So, we prioritized and got that work completed. But, this weekend, while I watched my child completely freak out trying to get a project for Language Arts done, I started to wonder if it was really worth it to keep her in school. As I lay awake that night, I started to run the past six weeks through my mind and I could start to see patterns. Rosie would feel better then get completely overwhelmed again trying to get late work completed and have a migraine. I got up in the middle of the night to look at my log and it was there in black and white. The stress of school was causing the migraines.
Monday, I got an email that Rosie needed to make the posters or she would be benched for this week’s game. I told her. She didn’t want to do it because she didn’t feel well. We argued and she got out of bed and made the posters. The next morning, she had another migraine. I felt like a complete shit of a mother. It was posters. For drill team. Really?
Yesterday, I was wrestling with the home schooling idea again. Even though she said she didn’t want it, I was starting to think it was the best thing for her. She wasn’t making it to school. The work was completely stressing her out. The kids were being pretty shitty. She wasn’t sleeping. Her lunch was never touched. She came home from school and had to sleep. Never made it to dance. It was pretty clear to me that it wasn’t working out but I wasn’t sold on the idea until I walked into the pediatrician to ask a question- the online school deadline was looming next week.
“I need to get a copy of my child’s immunization records please. I can’t get them off the portal.” I said.
She cocked her head the the right, looked mildly confused and said, “Well why not?” And, then she attempted to ask me five minutes of “Did you try this. Or this…” It went on and on. And on for freaking ever.
Finally, I looked at her and said, “Can you PLEASE just print it. I NEED it. I may need to pull my child out of public school and home school her and I have a deadline.”
“Well, I was trying to solve your problem…” she said.
“Then give me the print out please. THAT solves my problem,” I bellowed.
As I was leaving to go upstairs and get my shots, I ran into one of the receptionists from my allergists office. Since I’ve been a patient over 20 years and am there every two weeks, she knew something was wrong. So she ushered me immediately into a room where I broke down sobbing uncontrollably. I had hit the wall.
While I’m the mother and know my role, I try to empower my child and involve her in decisions. She’d been begging me to keep her in school unfortunately I was starting to think that she’d be better off out of the cesspool that is middle school. Plus, while the words were there, I couldn’t help but notice that her body was giving me a completely different message- it was saying “Get me the hell out of here” by giving her migraines. And, now I was stressed out and sobbing in a doctor’s office. Good Lord. That was stick a fork in me, I’m done moment.
I came home, told the K-Man what I was about to do and completed the online enrollment process. Then I woke my daughter to tell her that we felt it was best for all of us to pull her of school. She wanted nothing to do with it at first but as night came, she warmed up to the idea. I knew it was going to be tough but I had to finally do what I thought was best for my child’s well being.
Today, we got the call that they pushed our enrollment through. I told Rosie and her reaction surprised me. She’s so grown up.
“Okay, I’ll get all my drill team stuff together and my books and we’ll drop it all off,” she said with a smile.
I sent the emails that we were leaving school and we headed on our way to sign paperwork and clean out her locker. I wondered if there would be tears but Rosie had none. She held her head up high in the meeting and when she saw one of her teammates in the hallway who wondered where she’d been.
“I don’t go to school here anymore,” Rosie said and she smiled really bright until the friend walked away and she said, “Awkward.” But as we drove away from school, I asked my daughter how she felt. “Relived,” was her answer.
We’ve had a great day. Bought some cool socks that say “Confidence.” Had cupcakes. I’ve listened to Rosie sing. Seen some light in her eyes that wasn’t there a couple days ago. I think we’ll be okay.