For our 40th birthdays, the hubby and I gifted ourselves the creation of our wills.
It does feel morbid to think about life after death as we celebrate this wonderful milestone; the hubby last fall and me later this Spring.
But we are pragmatic and recent events have emphasized the need to plan for the future.
We worked with a lawyer with expertise in estate planning and the process was straightforward. We had scheduled this process before recent events and noted the ironic timing.
Creating a will and related documents, such as a Power of Attorney, gives special needs parents the peace of mind that there is a plan in place for your child’s care if anything were to happen to both parents.
For the hubby and I, it all comes down to ensuring there is a plan for T’s care should something happen to both of us.
As the hubby and I know that individuals with FASD, of which T has an at risk prognosis of, often struggle with managing their finances even as adults, we opted to set up a trust for T, to be managed by an executor, instead of giving everything to him all at once.
The last few weeks have been so chaotic with Ma’s unexpected situation and virtual schooling that I was tempted to cancel the lawyer appointment. But we went through with it and now we have peace of mind it’s done.
Cuz I gotta say, if this pandemic doesn’t kill me, virtual schooling will, if it keeps getting extended.
During a recent bedtime, T and I were chit chatting to pass the time before he fell asleep.
I asked T, “Will you take care of daddy and I when we get old?”
He replied without hesitation, “Yes, I will do everything for you.”
Well, that was reassuring. I almost asked him if he could put that in writing.
Thankfully, Ma is stable and on the long road to recovery at rehab.
Nonetheless, I entered this last week of simultaneous work, homeschooling, parenting, and keeping an eye on Ma with a deficit of rest and a surplus of stress.
Everyone has different ways to manage stress.
I believe in doing what works best for you – so long as you deal with it.
My strategy is to compartmentalize – to deal with each stressor one at a time, rather than trying to deal with everything all at once.
I visualize each challenge as a box. I take one box out at a time and deal with its content and then put it away before I take the next box out.
In contrast, multi-tasking is like trying to juggle several balls or to keep multiple plates spinning on sticks. At some point, you’re gonna drop balls or plates are gonna fall and break.
When I was in the emergency ward doing the overnight shift while Ma was sleeping, I reminded myself this is a marathon and not a sprint. I have to pace myself across 2021 and leave space and time for balance and rest.
I had a total of 1 day to myself during my two-week vacation.
On that day, I put Ma in a box in my head and stored it away. I had full trust that she was in excellent care.
I tuned out and did not respond to text, email and social media.
T was at daycare and the hubby was working. So I spent that glorious morning on the couch binging a fantastic Korean series called Sweet Home. I worked out, went for a walk and took a long nap.
Similarly, for this week’s return to homeschool hell, I took a compartmentalization approach to face what felt like an overwhelming week.
I had boxes for work, homeschooling T, parenting, checking in on Ma, house work, and self care.
The hubby – who is the best tag team partner anyone can ask for – and I divided up the 5 online learning sessions.
When I was online with T, I put work out of my mind – and vice versa.
I scheduled time each day to check on Ma, reminding myself to trust the care that she’s in.
Although the hubby and I worked longer days, to compensate for homeschooling, we made time each day to have fun with T, like taking him outside or to just be silly at home.
Mind you, this all sounds neat and tidy in writing. But it was anything but orderly or chaos free.
T’s meltdowns and resistance to sitting down for virtual learning and requiring a lot of hand-holding made it a trying and tiring week.
But the week flew by thanks to us doing our best to take a one-task-at-a-time approach.
It’s important to take the time to unpack and deal with your stress.
Critics of compartmentalization will say it’s just a way of avoidance and denial.
I’m not a psychologist and can only speak from my experience.
It’s about creating space and time to take out each box in a timely manner to deal with its content.
For me, I visualize it as making sure each box in your life doesn’t gather too much dust.
It’s more challenging for me to do that these days, because time is at such a premium.
But I make time for it in a few key ways, including check-ins with our child psychologist – a wonderful service we’ve been able to tap into thanks to T’s prognosis.
Processing my thoughts through this blog is also helpful.
The hubby and I binged the latest season of Cobra Kai over two nights.
The Netflix hit series continues the story of The Karate Kid movies 35 years later.
I never watched the films but the show resonates with me, because it tells a compelling coming of age story.
The aspect of the story that resonates with me is when the youth characters – often troubled but full of potential – find a new path through the mentorship of the adult characters, who are also looking for redemption.
Thinking about T, a boy with great potential and challenging needs, you can see how I think about my hopes and fears for his future when I watch the show.
Every youth can benefit from a mentor.
A mentor is described as a caring and responsible adult who can help improve the well-being of a youth by serving as a role model to support their academic, personal and social wellbeing.
In T’s current daily life, he has many mentors – teachers, child and youth worker, daycare staff, and of course, the hubby and I.
Even at age 5, the hubby and I already see and anticipate some of the challenges he’ll have as he comes of age – emotional regulation, academics, maintaining friendship, etc.
A mentor is not a fix-all solution but they can help guide T along the right path, to occupy his time in meaningful and purposeful activity, and to also serve as someone he can look up to and model his behaviour after.
I think about the mentors in my life. One, in particular, gave me a chance when I graduated from university at 23. I can attribute the wonderful blessings in my professional life thanks to this person giving me an opportunity and mentoring me.
I wish for the same in T. Because I do see it – and as evidenced by our painful first day of return to homeschool hell today (more on this later) – that he is going to need hands-on support in the years to come.
I believe that everyone has potential and that one key ingredient in helping one maximize their potential is having someone believe in them and guide them.
Thankfully, we live in a city with wonderful programs for youth, including mentorship programs.
I’m aware of programs specifically for youth with special needs. By the time T is a youth, these programs will likely be even more widely available.
I’m thankful T already has great mentors in his life and I hope for this in every step along his life – especially during the challenging times.
And maybe we’ll get T involved in karate as he gets older too! He certainly has the energy and angst to burn.
The wonderful thing about a new year is that it presents an opportunity to reflect on the steps you’ve travelled and to aspire about the steps you will take in the year ahead.
2020 has been filled with slithering snakes – the pandemic, lockdown homeschooling, family health crisis just to name a few.
But it’s also been filled with many uplifting moments. And these are the moments I choose to carry with me into 2021.
As we depart 2020, I’d like to say thanks to the ladders that helped us along the way:
Thank you for Team T – a wonderful group of teachers, educators, and health and social service professionals – who supported T, the hubby and I through a challenging year. The tremendous gains he’s made and big life changes, such as starting medication for ADHD, were made possible with their support.
Thank you for public outdoor pools. The 4-5 days a week of swimming in the summer heat – and seeing T’s joy and confidence being in the water – are among my most treasured moments of 2020.
Thank you for the quiet moments with T – the countless walks in the sun, the puddly rain, the radiant colours of fall, and the snow. Life with T is often loud and frenetic, so these quieter gentler moments are always a welcomed balance.
Thank you to family, friends and colleagues for helping us get through the speed bumps.
And thank you to the lovable little pest T, for continuing to teach the hubby and I valuable lessons every day and giving us the drive to keep heading forward and embracing life for all its good and bad.
Despite the unrelenting challenges that keep coming at us, the hubby, T and I enjoyed a quiet and peaceful Christmas.
T’s excitement was palatable. The last two weeks, we counted down the number of days till Christmas.
“What’s 9 minus 1?” I asked him at one point last week.
“I dunno,” he responded.
“If there were 9 days until Christmas and 1 day has passed, how many days left until Christmas?” I rephrased the question.
“8 days! 8 days until Christmas!” He exclaimed with unbearable excitement.
The trick with teaching kids math, you see, is about putting things into context for them!
Before bedtime on Christmas Eve, T put out a glass of milk, cookies and carrots for Santa.
After he passed out, I took out the gifts Santa (aka the hubby) had bought and meticulously wrapped for T and put them under the tree and wrote a note of thanks to T from Santa.
Childhood is so short and T will one day outgrow Santa, so might as well have fun while we can.
T gave us the best Christmas present by letting us sleep in till 9. Then he charged into the room and said, “Time to wake up. It’s Christmas!”
We put on our Santa hats, took a few family photos and then opened gifts.
T got a whack of gifts from his parents, grandparents, family members and our friends who either mailed or dropped them curbside.
We’re so blessed with an amazing support group of family and friends. Since learning about my Ma’s stroke, friends and cousins have dropped off lasagna, fried chicken and other care packages.
They all understand that time is even more of the essence and gifted us time for the coming weeks.
“What do you think the chances are of someone dropping off a cooked turkey?” I asked the hubby jokingly.
Ma and my aunt each gave T a red envelope, a Chinese tradition of putting money into a lucky red envelope.
Ma is always the first to admit she doesn’t know how to buy gifts, so she gives money to help invest in his future education instead.
I will admit I felt a bit embarrassed and a tad appalled at how many gifts T got. It probably was more than I ever got in total as a child.
I strongly believe in trying not to spoil a child, because they will grow up not appreciating things. But then I let that feeling go this year and I allowed the hubby to go over the top with Christmas, because of how shitty of a year it’s been.
The hubby and I don’t usually exchange gifts but this year we did, again cuz, you know, pandemic.
I asked for Junji Ito’s horror graphic novel, Remina. Because nothing gives hope and cheer like a story about a planet-eating planet.
The hubby and T then dropped me off to visit Ma at the hospital. It was so nice to see her.
She is doing so much better but we still have a long recovery ahead. But we are thankful for every day that she gets through.
I got back home in the late afternoon and just relaxed – alternating between quiet time by myself and playing with T and his new toys.
Whoever invented self-flying drones for little kids must’ve really hated their parents. Jokes aside, it’s actually a really cool toy!
We wavered back and forth between having family over for dinner but we ultimately decided to respect lockdown restrictions and kept it to our family, because we didn’t want to risk anyone getting sick.
The hubby prepared a delicious turkey dinner, his specialty.
I’m not usually a wine or alcohol drinker, but a friend gifted us a nice bottle of rosé – and cuz, you know, pandemic.
2020 has tested our family like no other but the holidays remind us that a family endures and perseveres.
I am hanging onto that hope as we look ahead to a brighter new year.
Wherever you are joining T, the hubby and I from, we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!
This Monday, Jupiter and Saturn came within the closest distance to each other in 800 years, forming a Christmas star.
It lit up the sky like a white diamond on the shortest day of the year. It was a symbol of hope that brighter days are, quite literally, on their way.
2020 has been such a rollercoaster year. While it’s nearing its end, the challenges continue to come at an unrelenting pace – whether it’s our province re-entering a full lockdown or unexpected family hardships.
Despite this feeling of dark heaviness, I am so thankful there are reasons to feel gratitude and hope.
Firstly, T is in daycare this and next week – so it takes the pressure off us to look after him, as I had originally booked these two weeks off from work to recharge.
I’m spending the free time just relaxing when I can, because my family is about to embark on a marathon as Ma starts her recovery.
Part of my wellbeing regime is listening to music. Australian pop star Kylie Minogue’s music always cheers me up.
I listened to her song “White Diamond,” written a decade ago when she was facing cancer. Its lyrics resonated with me in a new way.
I reflected about diamonds. They are beautiful jewels that are formed deep within the Earth’s darkness from carbon being subjected to intense heat and pressure.
That’s really what this past year has been all about. This is what adversity is about. These moments take us – as individuals, as a collective – and subject us to such incredible pressure, while burying us within a deep darkness that we feel like we’ll never get out of.
But for those of us who get through it, we become richer and brighter because of these experiences and we radiate with a renewed sparkle because of the valuable lessons we’ve learned.
I don’t quite know what will happen in the road ahead, but I know we will get through it somehow and be all the better for it.
White Diamond by Kylie Minogue
I know that it’s getting too much, baby But you don’t need the words to say Sometimes you feel you’re at the end of the line But tonight it’s gonna fade away
You’re looking out from the darkness Feeling so alone and you need a flare Well, I’ve got the light that’s gonna treat you right And illuminate what’s already there
Understand I will be there for you Understand I’m a diamond for you A white diamond for you
And just like a burning radio I’m on to you Your spell I’m under In the silver shadows I will radiate And glow for you
What you see and what it seems Are nothing more than dreams within a dream Like a pure white diamond I’ll shine on and on and on
Life can change in the blink of an eye: our Ma had a stroke on Friday.
Yesterday, Friday morning, was a normal one. By the evening, I was in the Emergency ward receiving quite the unexpected news.
Thankfully, she is awake and seems to understand what’s going on. But her speech is slurred and mobility impacted.
My sister and I are taking turns watching her as we want her to be with family 24/7 during this critical period. Due to COVID, only one guest can be with a patient at a time.
We’re thankful we have such a supportive family. This morning, my mom’s siblings and our cousins around the world joined together for a short Facebook video chat. It made my mom happy and we were relieved she recognized everyone and knew it was Christmas time by greeting them.
I was delirious by the time I went to bed at 11 this morning and I feel more human after sleeping now that I’m back for my second evening shift.
Ma is now sleeping so I’m filling the time as I always do by trying to keep busy.
When I’m stressed out, I try to maintain calm and order by planning.
At 11 last night, I emailed colleagues instructions to look after in my absence.
At 4 this morning, I emailed the hubby to ask him to set me up – clothes, bottled water, etc – in our guest room and to move T’s stuff out of his bathroom into ours and mine into his. I want to semi quarantine myself into that corner of the house as I will be spending lots of time at the hospital over the coming weeks.
I am doing all of this – including writing this post – because I’m trying to distract myself and not to think about more serious matters.
T could sense that something is different. The hubby and I told him that “Ama” is sick and is in the hospital. That’s why I have to be out of the house to take care of her.
He was very calm and compliant today because he is likely picking up on the somber mood.
He left me alone while I slept most of the day but did open the door to see how I was doing at around 5pm.
I started to tell him that Ama was sick and then I started crying. I couldn’t help it.
“Why are you crying?” He asked.
“Because I’m sad and scared,” I said.
“Grown ups don’t cry,” he said adamantly.
I kind of chuckled when he said that.
When we were getting ready to drive to the hospital to drop me off tonight, I didn’t need to ask T 10 times to put his shoes on. He just did it at the first ask.
He also did a short “Feel better, Ama” video that I shared with Ma this evening.
After Ma saw the video, she told me, in a still slurred way, “I want to stick around to see T and the little kids (in our family) graduate.”
I just lost it. I tried so hard not to cry but couldn’t hold the tears back.
Then she said, “I will be fine. Because I am the survivor type.”
We’re not out of the woods and the next few days will be scary. But it is reassuring that she still has her melodramatic flair.
Then one day, S started to play at the park with his dad.
For the first few days, we each kept to ourselves. Then I encouraged T to play with S and to include him with the older kids.
As the days drew shorter, the older kids stopped coming to play. So it was just T and S.
They started to play together. T would initiate his game of tag and S would initiate his own games.
S’ dad and I slowly started to talk to each other and found common interests, like politics.
I learned that S was doing virtual school and was a single child like T.
As with any new relationship, I initially felt on edge about T when he’d have one of his moments; like screaming when he doesn’t get his way or getting into S’ personal space and annoying him.
The worst moment so far was when he took S’ glove, because he felt like it, and was chased by S. S was angry and punched T and then T got upset and pushed him to the ground.
S’ Dad is very understanding and in return, I ask T to apologize for his moments.
But interestingly, it’s not always T who has the moments. I notice S has a strong personality like T and stubborn moments of not giving into T’s demands too.
And you know what, it’s very refreshing to see T get a dose of his own medicine. And to use them as teachable moments.
Recently, while playing in the field, S accidentally threw a hard snowball at T’s face. Cue the crying and tears.
I was just glad it wasn’t the other way around!
But what I’m most thankful for is that it’s been mostly wonderful moments between them.
I love how excited T gets when he runs out of daycare towards the playground to see S.
There was a stretch of three consecutive days when S did not come out to play because of bad weather.
T was sad and cried that he missed S. Then on the day S came out again, T ran so fast to him, screaming, “S!!!”
I am very appreciative the Dad seems like a down to Earth and level headed parent. The fact that T’s hyperactive and loud personality and frequent outbursts have not deterred him from continuing to bring S out to play with T has been a blessing.
He’s confided a few times about his concerns about S. So I openly shared T’s own prognosis and challenges.
Last week, they invited T and I to join them sledding at the park by their house – down the street from T’s daycare. And it was a lot of fun!
I had a chuckle when T’s mom joined us and asked, “Are they friends or enemies today?”
I guess that’s the sign of a good friendship is when you can navigate the ups and downs and still want to hang out with each other.
And I am so thankful for that.
And I love that even during these super cold winter nights, the two boys are still playing in the dark and dimly light playground – having it all to themselves because all the other kids are staying warm inside.
During one recent outing, S asked T if he could go over to their house after the coronavirus goes away.
T then asked if S could come visit our home.
I found that such a sweet moment.
As we left the playground that evening and they walked us to the parking lot, T and S gave each other a big hug.
The hubby and I took out T’s baby book a few Saturdays ago. We were feeling nostalgic. For the first time, we shared its contents with T.
Contained in this scrapbook are photos and letters from T’s first 14 months of life, before he moved in with the hubby and I and became part of our forever family.
The book was lovingly put together by T’s foster mother, who had been with T since his second month of life.
The hubby and I treasure this book so much, because it provides us with a link to the moments in T’s life that we were not a part of.
When we first open the book, we see a lovely letter T’s foster mother typed up that described T’s early days – details about his birth mother and how T came into the care of his foster family.
Throughout the book, there are wonderful photos of T in his early moments of life.
I love the photos of T with his foster parents, foster brother and foster siblings, because it makes me happy to remember that he had a happy, loving and stable life before he came into ours.
I treasure the photos of his firsts: Easter, Halloween, Christmas and letter from Santa; first smile at 2 months, first time sitting at 4 months, first time pulling himself to a stand at 11 months.
We still keep in touch with the foster family, because it’s important to us that T has a complete sense of self. We last saw them back in February – before the pandemic lockdown – to celebrate T’s 5th birthday.
Since T was three years old, I started incorporating a simplified version of T’s adoption story into our bedtime story routine called “The T Story.”
This year, T started to ask deeper questions about this story and so I used the word “adoption” for the first time and told him that he was adopted by the hubby and I.
Then he started to ask more questions about his foster family, about why we adopted him, about whether or not he was going to go back to his foster family.
I think it’s wonderful that he is asking these smart and thoughtful questions. It means he is ready to have these conversations.
It doesn’t always feel comfortable to answer his questions. But the hubby and I always keep it real and age appropriate with him.
I can tell that T is processing these tidbits – these puzzle pieces that form his big picture of himself.
That’s why we shared the scrapbook with him for the first time a few weeks ago.
It warmed my heart watching him look at the pictures and to see that he was so loved from the beginning of his life.
On the second page is the only picture that we have of his birth mother. The hubby was open and honest that this was his mom.
We noticed that T was very quiet. He did not react or say anything until he moved onto the other photos in the book of himself and his foster family.
I’m sure his mind was processing what it all meant.
It is a story to talk to him about on another day when he is ready.
I’m grateful to work from home during the pandemic, because I can stand on the steps every morning and wave to T as the hubby drives him to school.
As I watch the car disappear down the street, I say a silent prayer. I ask for T to have a positive day that includes incremental growth, learning, friendship and happiness.
Most days are good. Some days are great. And some are not as great, even disastrous.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I started this blog.
One thing that motivated me to start this blog was this time last year, our school board cancelled the specialized kindergarten program, of which T was around one of the 25 or so kids in 7 classrooms across the city that benefitted from the early intervention supports provided on social behaviour so that kids could be better prepared for grade school.
I wanted to do my part to advocate for T and for children like T – in an anonymous way that honours his privacy.
The hubby and I see his pre-reading and pre-math skills emerging. His child and youth worker recently told us that he is above average in his class with reading and math.
While he still struggles with hyperactivity and focus, with the combined help of his child and youth worker, using behavioral modification strategies, and starting medication this summer, he’s come such a long way with being able to sit still and focus on a task.
While getting him to comply with daily routines can still be a patience-sapping challenge, there are far less meltdowns.
I try to be honest when I shared the ups and downs of raising a child with great potential and challenging needs.
Often times, this may give the impression that T is all problems and challenges.
I would say that life with our T is mostly 80% great and 20% very hard. I would consider that a good ratio!
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned this past year is to celebrate every incremental success together.
About a week ago, the hubby received an excited call from T’s child and youth worker. She told him that T had his best day ever at school.
Every night, when T and I come from daycare, the hubby is standing in the foyer with his arms open and a smile on his face as the door swings open. T runs to the hubby and gives him a big hug.
That evening, T got an extra long and tight hug.
We read – as we do daily – her daily report in T’s school log out to T.
“This was the best work I have ever seen T do! He was very focused and did not scribble all over the page! Great work T!” She wrote. “T did an excellent job reading today. He went over to the teacher without any complaint! Great job!”
The hubby finished reading and T had a proud and self-satisfied smile on his face.
Without skipping a beat, he asked, “Are you going to tell Santa?”
I told her without hesitation, “No. T is the best thing that’s happened to the hubby and I.”
And I meant it. Sure, he has challenging moments – almost on a daily basis – but there is so much love and joy we get back in return.
The question made me pause because it seemed so inappropriate.
But I didn’t make a fuss, because I know my aunt loves T. Her frankness is just part of age and the Asian bluntness.
Then I told my aunt T has recently developed a wonderful friendship with a 7-year-old boy and they’ve been playing together every day after daycare in the playground.
Surprised, she asked, “Is there something wrong with the boy too? Or is he normal?”
Again, if it wasn’t for me being used to Asian bluntness, I would’ve called out the inappropriate comment. I simply replied he seemed normal and added, “By the way, T is a normal child.”
Like, what does normal even mean?!
The conversation reminded me about the challenges that parents often have with helping their families understand the reality of raising a child with special needs.
First off, the hubby and I are very blessed to have families that love T. They may not fully understand the reality of raising a child with great potential but a prognosis of at-risk FASD but the love is undoubtable.
The hubby and I are very honest about T’s challenges. We don’t hide or sugarcoat things.
One area that was challenging in the beginning was making family members understand his challenging behaviour is a result of a brain-based disorder and not because he is a bad kid and that traditional types of discipline do not work.
I can’t count the number of times when our parents or uncles and aunts have tried to discipline or call T out for his behaviour.
One time another aunt tried to lecture T when he was having a meltdown and hit her. She later sent me an email saying that we needed to be on top of T’s behaviour or it’s going to get worse. She even bought me a book on parenting!
I responded in a lengthy email explaining T’s prognosis, explained the strategies we use – including riding out a meltdown instead of throwing fuel in the fire – and asked her to take our lead in the future.
My aunt is well intentioned and has raised a daughter with Down syndrome. So she understands special needs. What helped was giving her more information about T’s specific prognosis and once she understood more about it, she now takes our lead.
It’s important to set boundaries with family.
I am always grateful for the love that our family provides T, but the hubby and I are clear that we are T’s parents, so leave the parenting to us.
We tune out unsolicited parenting advice, parenting articles, and yes, parenting books too!
We focus our efforts instead on educating family – and friends, colleagues, school staff and others – about his needs and challenges.
We keep it real, because that’s important.
We also try to challenge stereotypes and labels about “special needs.”
T is a bright, funny and caring child. He has a tremendous spirit for adventure and he’s had many amazing life experiences already.
So many positives to celebrate. I want to remind people – not just family – to focus on these while keeping a proactive eye on the areas of need.
So when I think back to my recent conversation with my aunt, it reminds me that educating family is an important part of being the parent of a child with special needs.
These conversations may be tricky and sometimes cringe-worthy awkward, but they are worth the investment in time.
Lots of chopping but cooking helps calm and centre me. Prep aside, it was very easy to make and so delicious. Will definitely make this again!
To keep the theme going, I made Hong Kong cafe style toast with condensed milk for dessert. No picture but trust me when I say that everything tastes great with tons of condensed milk drizzled on top!
Wherever you are visiting my blog from, I wish you much cheer and light over the coming weeks. We still have a long road ahead with this pandemic, so however you are getting through these times, please take care and stay well!
During a daycare pickup this week, the staff told me T threw a toy at a boy and caused a bump on his head.
They said the parents were upset, because it’s not the first time T and this boy have had issues.
I told the staff the hubby and I will speak with T because we take responsibility for his behaviour.
Our routine is to play in the playground after pickup. Recently, there is a 7 year old boy who T has hit it off with and his dad brings him to play with T every day.
As T and I were walking to the playground, I am stopped by a man who was visibly upset. He pointed to T, who was running towards his friend.
“Is that your son?” He asked. Judging by the tone of his voice and the rage on his face, I figured out this was the angry parent.
I confirmed I was T’s dad.
He then dialed a number on his phone. A woman’s voice came on. It was his wife, who spoke in English because her Chinese husband was not fluent.
She was audibly upset and reiterated the situation that had happened.
I said I was sorry that T did that and I’ve already spoken to him about it and would speak with him again that night.
The mom said this was not the first time our kids have had an issue.
I told them that I couldn’t comment because I was not aware of the history.
“So this is the first time you’re hearing about this?” They asked, implying the daycare staff were not addressing T’s behaviour with me.
I explained that daycare staff bring up incidents but they do not mention specific names – like their son – out of privacy.
The dad was shooting eye daggers at me. It was incredibly uncomfortable.
But all I could do was reiterate I am sorry, that I take responsibility for T’s actions and that I’ve already spoken with him about it.
But they were not getting the answer they wanted. They were wanting me to agree with their implication that T was a bad child and a bully.
And frankly, I was not going there, because it was not true.
And I stood up for T. I told them that while I acknowledge that what T did was wrong, I also want them to know T is not a bad kid.
Then I apologized that I had to leave to be with my son and I politely walked away.
That incident really bothered me. I was so upset about it – for multiple reasons.
I was upset that it happened. It was a reminder that despite the many gains we’ve made, T is a work in progress.
I was upset that I had to be yelled at by two angry parents for very valid reasons and for actions that T made.
I was upset because it was another parental complaint we’ve had to deal with this year.
During the car ride home, I spoke about it with T again.
I asked him how he thought the incident made his classmate at daycare feel. He was silent. That to me tells me he was remorseful and guilty.
The daycare staff did say he felt genuinely remorseful.
This was certainly not the first time a parent had complained about T and his behaviour.
But this was the first time I’ve had an actual confrontation with an angry parent and it was incredibly uncomfortable.
On one hand, I empathize and take responsibility for T’s actions and I was genuine when I described to them the steps I would take to teach T about what he did.
On the other hand, I have to continue to be T’s advocate. These parents – at no fault of their own – have no idea about the additional challenges T has to deal with on a daily basis nor do they realize the tremendous, I repeat, tremendous gains he has made this school year with social interaction and behaviour.
I don’t expect them to care. I expect any parent – as I do – to focus on their child and their best interests.
So I get their anger.
But I am not going to go overboard with my apologies, nor throw T under the bus.
I’ve apologized for his actions and I’ve committed to speaking with him about it and to do my part to teach him to do better. And I will continue to do so in the future, because there will be more of these incidents.
But that is where I draw the line. I will continue to focus my energies on the bigger picture and the journey ahead.
I’m not looking to win a Parent of the Year Award but I most certainly am laser focused on being the best parent and advocate, along with the hubby, for T.