I Feel Like I’m Failing My Children…

parenting, school issues, speech issues, parental fails, non-supportive schools
I’ve been parenting for 25 years now. Not just parenting like most. I’ve had littles in my house for the entire 25 years. I should be a pro. I should have school issues down. I should be serving my babies well. But I’m not. I feel like I’m failing my kids. Today was the day I almost had a meltdown, a failure as a parent, because this school year has been full of trials and tribulations that I have never experienced in all of my years of parenting. Are the babies feeling the pressure too?

I try to shield them from the bad stuff, but this year has been a struggle. Let me just say that in all of my years as a parent, I guess I’ve been lucky. I’ve really liked most of the kids’ teachers, the schools, the experiences. We’ve had a few bumps along the way, but that’s normal and I handled them with grace and dignity and the schools, the teachers, always worked to improve and fix anything that might have gone wrong. That’s to be expected. That’s how it should be.

But this year has been different. Y’all, this year has been BAD. From speech therapy issues, to a very non-nurturing Kindergarten teacher that literally expected my son, at the age of 5, to enter the “outside world” for the first time ever as a high school student full of responsibility, to a crossing guard that practices unsafe habits, to a principal that doesn’t give a damn about any of the above.

Today it all kind of came to a head and I feel like I’m failing my kids.

Let me explain our year in a nutshell. Bubby has a speech delay. He’s no dummy…quite the contrary. He’s quite brilliant. But his speech isn’t clear and he can’t pronounce sounds, mostly blends, well. I tried to get him into pre-K, but they denied him because we are above the income level and don’t fit the other criteria for free education at the pre Kindergarten level. So he stayed home and I worked with him. Come to find out, that was a violation of the IDEA Act by the school. They fail, but I still feel like I failed him because I didn’t know.

He has a bully (why are some kids such assholes?). Awesome. He has trouble saying the Z sound so his name comes out sounding more like Daiquiri than Zachary. His bully pointed out, in front of all of the kids on the playground, that he was named after a drink. Not sure if I should be more concerned that the kid knew what a Daiquiri was (sounds like some issues at home to me) or the fact that my kid is being bullied and laughed at while no teacher, no adult, did anything to stop it. Anyway, the teacher won’t help, the principal won’t help, so I got in contact with the head of the speech therapy program for the district. She wasn’t amused and the wheels were speedily set in motion. The counselor (very nice) and the diagnostician (very nice) are involved and we’re well on our way to FINALLY getting him in the therapy program. YAY for that! I’ve been maintaining my cool although I did point out to all of them that the IDEA violation was nothing to joke about. I’ve hid this all from my kids.

I talked to the principal about this. She told me there was no violation. There was no problem. The SCHOOL was handling this as they should. The SCHOOL had this under control. But no, they didn’t. I had it under control. I did this. She took credit and gave herself accolades. Strike one.

I talked to the principal about his teacher. I said I was sure she was effective and a great teacher, but she wasn’t the best fit for my son, for our family. Could we just switch classes? No. She’s the team leader for Kindergarten. She’s the best they have. We just need to adjust. End of conversation. I conceded, tried to deal with it, and failed my son.

Then, of all things, an issue came up with one of the crossing guards in the morning. She doesn’t protect those children. As they are walking across the road, still in the road, she starts flagging the cars to move through. NO! There are babies in the road. Just no. So I stop my car, leave it running every morning, and quickly walk my children across the school parking lot myself, then scurry back to my car and pull off. My children deserve to be safe. All children deserve to be safe.

Apparently, I’m breaking the “rules” by doing that. Apparently, I’m the problem. Well, me and the other 100 or so parents that do this exact same thing every morning for the very same reason (hey school people, we talk to each other too). But the difference is, I had the nerve…THE NERVE…to say something about it and tell her, when asked, that she should really be a little safer in her practices.

Back up…NO…I’m not one of THOSE people. I don’t complain about everything. I make it a rule to not complain at restaurants or my children’s schools. The first could spit in my food, the second could hurt my babies. I’m the snack mom. I send in too many school supplies. I’m asked to be PTO president every year (NO thank you). This is the first time…EVER. It’s that bad!

Yesterday, the principal called me (man, she yells a lot). She wanted to know what MY problem was. Well, if she had answered her messages or seen me on the 8 occasions that I waited in the office to talk to her about this, she would have already known. But anyway, I told her. I explained the unsafe practices. I explained (again) the speech therapy issues, I explained that we were unhappy with one of the teachers. She told me that I’m breaking the rules. She yelled that I’m breaking the rules. I can’t call the admin office, I can’t walk my kids into the school, I can’t…be a parent I guess?

I’m done! DONE! This morning, when I went to drop off the kids (the kids that I’ve requested be moved to another school repeatedly to this principal), I parked in a line behind 10 cars. Not the drop off line, in the side parking lot. She came rushing (seriously she rushed me with a gym teacher as a pseudo body guard?), to tell me I can’t park there. The others were parked there. There are no signs. I asked why that was OK. She said…dudes and I quote…”because” and “you’re not the boss here”. The heck?

I guess I got her in trouble with the speech thing initially. That’s all I can figure. But she’s gunning for me and I finally just broke down. BROKE DOWN. She rushed me and did all of that in front of my babies. In front of the other parents. Like the bully that rushed Bubby on the playground.

Done.

I talked to the Superintendent of Curriculum’s office the last 2 days. They’re looking into transferring the babies to another school this year, even though that’s not the norm. I don’t know how much more I can take. The babies are starting to feel the pressure and that kills me. This all started because of some failure on the part of the school. I’ve been trying to keep my cool, I’ve been keeping my cool. They’ve gone too far. We all make mistakes. I know this. But to play the blame game and make children uncomfortable when they screw up? Not cool at all.

kids bright

Tonight, I decided to just let the stress melt away. I took some time off. Time to play with and enjoy my babies. No one will get the best of us. EVER. NO ONE. Schools have a lot of power over our future. Some teachers, some schools, are absolutely amazing. All teachers, all schools, should use their powers for good. Teach our children well, nurture them, help those of us that want the best for our children to make this world a better place.

After spending a little extra special time with these babies tonight, I realized that I’m not failing them. The system is. I’m a lover not a fighter, but they’ve failed big time and I’m ready to make a change. I’m ready to work this system like my bitch. Don’t mess with my babies. Don’t EVER mess with my babies!

Daddies, don’t tell your daughter she’s pretty. Period.

Growing up, my dad always introduced me as the pretty one. Period.

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The Thompsons 1970 – L to R: Christy, Vicki, Cathy, Elsie (mom), and Ron (dad)

My sisters were pretty, but they had other attributes he chose to point out when introducing them to friends and business colleagues.

Meet my oldest daughter, Cathy. She’s so sharp. She’ll be an architect, an accountant, or a lawyer some day.

Meet Vicki, my middle daughter. She’s a natural born leader and very intelligent. She’ll be a teacher and make a difference in this world when she grows up.

Meet Christy, my baby, she’s so pretty. Period.

That’s all I ever got. Pretty. Period. It stuck with me my whole life and that label, that concept, has probably, in some way, been transferred into the minds of my own girls. Period.

Pal-Mac Varsity Football Cheerleaders - Look Ma, I'm up top - no hands - aren't I pretty?

Pal-Mac Varsity Football Cheerleaders – Look Ma, I’m up top – no hands – aren’t I pretty?

My whole life, I’ve been consumed with “pretty”. I was afforded all of my opportunities because I was pretty. Period. There could be no other answer. In high school, I made the cheerleading squad. I was captain in fact. It was obviously because I was pretty. Period.

I got good grades in high school and college. I’m sure it was because I was pretty. Period. Pretty people always get everything handed to them. Period.

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In my 20s, I got jobs, when there were countless applicants, because I was pretty. I wasn’t the smart one. I certainly wasn’t cut out to change the world. I was just pretty. Period. And people admired that and they gave me all of the opportunities I was afforded because of that. Period.

Surely, I never got anything based on my merits. I couldn’t. I was pretty. Period.

I’m pretty, I’m thin, I’m nice, and GOSH DARN IT…people like me. That’s my life’s platform. I’m afraid that’s what I instilled in my girls. Because…pretty. Period. That thin thing often brings up talk of  Body Dysmorphic Disorder amongst my pretty (not-so-period) friends. I’m taken aback, but I get it. 

My oldest daughter is thin as a rail, and she’s pretty. My second daughter is struggling with her weight since the birth of her daughter, but by God, she’s pretty. My 7-year-old daughter is basically a stick, but she talks about the fat content in her food despite my constant insistence that she allows me to “worry” about her health while she just enjoys her youth. It’s not pretty. Period.

my babies

You see, I don’t want her, or any of them, to worry or stress like I did. My dad, my high school boyfriend (4 long years), and my 1st husband (10 long years) reminded me how important it was that I was thin and pretty. Period. That lead me to years of binging and purging, anorexia and bulimia, that not many people know about. But I was pretty! Period.

It’s a life-long lineage that stemmed from the fact that my dad said I was pretty. Period. Constantly.

As I look back on my life now, at all of my accomplishments, at all of the jobs I’ve secured, at the financially-secure place I am at now, I realize that it wasn’t “pretty” that got me here. Period. Sure, I might have gotten my foot in the door when I was 20 because I was “prettier” than another candidate, but it wasn’t because I was pretty. Period. I got those jobs, those opportunities, because I was pretty intelligent, pretty charming, pretty entertaining, pretty convincing, pretty funny, and pretty damned amazing. Period.

I’m 47 now and “pretty” doesn’t get me far in life anymore. I get me far in life. I always have. Period. The inside of me is so much more powerful than “pretty” and that’s what I want to pass on to my daughters. Even though I’m sagging, my abs will never be what they once were, I’m still pretty. Period.

So, a message to my dad, and to all of the dads (and moms) out there, please don’t just continue to tell your daughters they’re pretty. Period. Don’t ever end pretty with that period. Instead, say, hey baby, you’re pretty amazing. You’re pretty intelligent. You’re a pretty good reader. You’re pretty intuitive. You’re a pretty great family member, friend, and an all around great person. In fact, you’re pretty good at EVERYTHING you do. Period.

Serve your daughters well. We struggle with pretty enough. Please don’t make us think that is the be all and end all of life. We won’t stay pretty, young, and thin forever. We just can’t. Period.

And I’ve finally accepted, despite what I’ve heard my whole life, that I’m pretty freaking amazing. Not just pretty. Period.

Finally, White Roses! Let There Be Peace!

white roses text.jpg
My marriage isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s been quite rocky at times. Much more rocky than I’ve let on. There’s been heart break on both sides. Marriages, any partnerships in general, are like that sometimes. But there’s always more good than bad. That’s how I weigh things out. More good than bad? That equals worth it to me, no matter the struggles.

On the road to greatness, you always have trials. Nothing is ever perfect. NOTHING. Life isn’t easy. It’s all about who triumphs in the end. I feel like we’re about to win. Win in a big way. We’re, for possibly the first time ever, on the same page. We’re working on our future, our golden years I guess, together. And it’s a beautiful thing.

While I was out of town, and probably doubting this insane relationship more than I have in the past, I got a great reminder of why this is all worth it. A friend, a co-worker, asked me a question. Were those roses that were always behind me in pictures and in hangouts, always pink, fake? The answer was a resounding no. See, even through the craziness, B always seems to make sure that I have fresh roses in my office, always pink, because he knows they make me smile. Yes, there have been breaks in that, but not often.

That got me to thinking that maybe he does love me, or at least he likes to see me smile. OK, so I had a moment and I reminded myself, at that moment, that I could hold out until he “grew up”. I came home to a dozen new pink roses. Beautiful as always. But possibly hollow by this point?

They literally started to die the day after I came home. A sign? Yes, but not what you’re thinking. He went to Kroger the next night. He’d noticed the dying roses I guess. They had nothing pink. He was disappointed but picked up a lovely bouquet of white roses because he knows I love those too. And you know what? That was a sign!

A sign of peace. The minute I landed in Texas, he had told me that he thought about everything he’s done over the years, about our problems. He wanted to “fix” everything and he vowed things would be better. For the first time in a long time, I saw a different spark in his eyes, his beautiful piercing blue eyes. He meant it. I felt it.

And then, the next day without knowing it, he bought peace roses. I don’t think this is a coincidence and I hope it lasts this time.

I was ready to give up. Like, for real, ready.

Maybe he sensed it? Maybe he already knew. Maybe he was too. Of course he was. I’m difficult. He is too. It’s kind of “our thing”. Maybe, just maybe, things are going to be OK. I sure hope so. There is true love here, but execution has been a huge problem for a long time, and trust. That’s a biggie.

Wish us luck y’all because I think for the first time in a long time, we’re both ready to make this thing work! I’m ready for peace, and for love. I think he is too. It’s time. Long overdue actually. If you love this hard, you should reap the benefits. I’m ready. I’m willing. I’m digging the peace roses. I’m just digging life!