Spring Fever

It’s May. This month has held a certain trend in my life since 2011 but I didn’t even notice it until last year. Basically, I spend the entire month of May crying my eyes out and feeling like the worst parent in the word.

Here are just a few of my May journal entries from the past few years.

“O.M.G. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. In fact, most days, it downright sucks. Today is obviously one of those days.” – May 16

“I’m so disappointed in her behavior. The problem is that I’m starting to become angry and bitter with her because of the stress it causes me.” – May 7

“I cried all day yesterday. I feel defeated as a mother. I have certainly tried to do all the right things as a parent and to do all the things that I believe work. Yet, somehow, my kid is really struggling.” – May 22

It seems that every May my child turns into Satan’s Sister. Like clockwork. She has behavior problems galore. At school. Never at home. Never at church. Never on playdates. JUST AT SCHOOL. It’s the craziest thing ever. Except that it’s not. It’s crazy predictable, that’s what it is. Only, it took me 3 years to figure it out.

During the months of May I pretty much spend every waking hour and even the non-waking ones trying to cover my kid in prayer. And crying. I do a lot of crying. I’ve even had my entire village (you know who you are) pray her through the last few days of school. Multiple times.

I feared sending her to school every day. She was unpredictable. I never knew what she would do. I felt helpless to control the situation. Sure, I got notes home and emails and phone calls from school but there was absolutely nothing I could do to control the situation. I offered rewards. I offered consequences. I flat out said, “you are driving me to drink” or something along those lines. Didn’t matter. Nothing made a difference.

Every day I sat helpless at home waiting for the next phone call, email, or note that would crush my confidence as a parent. As a person, really. And people wonder why we only have one kid. Ha! I have been invited to multiple parent-teacher conferences and even the principal’s office. Several times. There, I found no solutions. Just expectations.

At one point, I took matters into my own hands and had her see 2 different counselors. The first one said there was nothing wrong with my child. She was perfectly normal. I needed answers so I asked for a second opinion. She referred us to a colleague who specializes in children and we saw him for almost a year. His assessment was the same. He ruled out ADHD, Autism, and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). His diagnosis: She is an extremely bright child. Hmmm. That I already knew. It also confirmed her “gifted” IEP from Metro but it didn’t explain her behavior. Or did it?

It seems that my kid gets nothing more than a bad case of “spring fever” every year.  Like, really bad. I have no idea where she gets it from. (Kidding, I’m the biggest summer lover ever. She gets it honest!) She could see the writing on the wall along with everyone else. In the public school setting, once testing is done, there isn’t really a point to all this “school” business. The mentality is do to whatever it takes to get through the end of the year. Only, they didn’t do whatever it takes. Their response just made me feel like an incompetent parent.

I finally said to the principal, “You know what? I am not Skylar. I cannot make decisions for her. She is her own person and makes the choice to do right or wrong. Yes, I am disappointed when this happens but I will no longer take on the guilt for her actions. I am not here to supervise her during the day. I cannot physically guide or redirect her when I am not here. You will have to figure out how to do that because she is under your authority during the day.” This particular principal had been working with children for a long time, so she understood exactly where I was coming from. I really liked her quite a bit. The “system,” on the other hand, not so much.

Thinking back, that conversation may have been the original homeschool seed being planted. I looked around and all I saw was cattle herding. There was no individual plan to help my child or any other child for that matter. Come May, everyone was in survival mode: the kids, the teachers, the staff, the parents. It also helped me to realize that the public school form of ‘socialization’ was hogwash. Okay, let’s put 20 immature beings together in a room and expect them to have the maturity, self control, and social graces of adults. Not gonna happen.

We’ve reached May 2014 and our world looks completely different. I have not cried a single day. Well, not about parenting anyway. My child is happy. I’m happy. In fact, our last month of school has been rather delightful. Yes, I’m looking forward to summer, as always, but I’m not leaping for joy because we drudged through and managed to survive the last few days.

Oh the difference a decision and a year make. I’m so thankful that we took the leap to homeschool. It has changed our quality of life in more ways than one.

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