Episode CVIII - it never rains but it pours
Where to even begin?
It was like the past few weeks were jammed packed full of crap. I am not kidding. It was just one horrible thing after another. Of course, I tend to turn horrible into something good in the end, but still it was a stinky couple of weeks...
Sums up my relationship with crappy things...
Craptacular Issue #1 - Bullying
My daughter has had a horrible year at her school this year. She has had multiple bullying issues within her class. Issues range from mild name calling (stupid, fat, ugly), to taking her snacks and food, to more severe issues including being called a “son of a b***h”, "piece of s**t", pushing, scratching, pulling her shirt up in PE, telling her she is too ugly to love, her parents don’t love her, she should not exist, etc. These issues have been escalating all year.
Did I mention she is in only in the 2nd grade?!?!
I could go on and on about how horrible the situation has been and how sad it is to watch my sweet girl begin to feel worse and worse as the year has progressed. I mean it is not like she has not already gone through enough. She managed to go through my cancer with no issues, but now... now the excessive bullying was breaking her down. So, we did as all good parents do and met with the school.
By the end of the meeting we felt we had been placated. There overall view was that "kids will be kids". We brought in a list of multiple issues with multiple children. While some of the concerns were minor, others were extremely concerning. The list was meant to show the totality of what she endured this year. We really wanted one child to get help, as the severe bullying needed to stop!
In the meeting they said a number of insulting things including one where they implied her problems could just be reactions to my cancer, like she was now all of the sudden seeking attention. Although we were dissatisfied with the meeting, we still wanted to give the school a chance to improve the situation. We were hopeful despite all of our issues with the meeting. We wanted to be hopeful!
Without knowing what to do I had to rely on the support from some of my friends who also happen to be parents of children at our elementary school. I did not want to start an online debate or issue, I wanted the school to take the time to rectify the bullying problem. I found a few friends and confided in them seeking encouragement, support, and advice.... those poor friends... they should have hung up on me.
Craptastic Issue #2 - The Stroke
It was one of those things you dread as a child, a phone call about your parent. My husband's mother had a stroke during the night. Thank goodness that her partner/husband/man-friend was there to do all of the right things. He knew something was wrong and as soon as possible he called an ambulance.
While we were unsure the severity of the stroke, we knew it was not good. We spent the morning trying to get out of town. It is amazing how long it takes to really get out of town in a hurry. While my husband was leaving work, I was trying to rent a car, pack, contact the schools, pick up the kids, get the rental car, and board the dog. Nothing moved along quickly. I felt like I was in slow motion!
Finally, after hours of very hard work we were ready to leave.
Days in the car with these people...
The trip was going to be long. And I can only make it so far in a car without excruciating pain. We knew it was going to be a two day trip to get there, as it was well over a 14 hour drive. We made our way til the late night, stopped at a hotel, and got back to it first thing the next day. More time in the car with the kids... shoot me!!!
Thank goodness for cell phones and having the ability for instant information. We felt like all the news about his mom was pretty good and even wondered if we jumped the gun and came down unnecessarily. However, we knew we wanted to be there with her and just hoped she was improving.
It was past dinnertime when we arrived and my husband went to the hospital to check out the situation before we took the kids. I took the hotel shuttle downtown to eat at a local restaurant and keep us all distracted.
Late night dinner with these tired and worried kiddos.
By the time we got back to the hotel, I noticed my body was not used to the Florida heat. Along with some swelling... I got a crazy insane hot flash...
Having to cool off back in the room!!!
While we were at dinner my husband was dealing with his mother's dramatic turn for the worse. She was having a brain bleed. She was moved to ICU. We arrived just in time for him to be there to help support her through the very critical next few days. It was so scary. It was so horrible.
Then she began making slight improvements. We were so grateful for that. She improved enough that the kids were able to visit. They loved visiting her at the hospital. I honestly believe that those smiling youthful faces were encouraging... well, when they are behaving!!!
And during the times she needed rest or therapy or a break from our loud obnoxious energy, we made our way around Fort Myers. Touring local historical sites and eating at interesting places. The kids needed distractions from the seriousness of it all too.
It seems I have become an expert in finding happy moments in the midst of crazy!!
Ford & Edison Winter Estates & Ford Garage Resturant
After a week, we had to go home. There was no good time to leave. There was no easy way to leave a family member ill. However, we had to make our way back home. We were so grateful to see that she was surrounded by people who were able to support her. She had many friends there that would be willing to help and that made leaving slightly easier.
Plus, we had to make that long trip back home...
A very brief stop to Busch Gardens Tampa.
On our way back we took a quick detour into Busch Gardens. With all my ailments (and trust me I was hurting from standing in the hospital, bending over the hospital bed to talk, sleeping in a tiny bed) I was unsure about my ability to enjoy myself. So I caved... I caved in a way I never thought I would...
I rented one of those horrible rascal scooters. I did it. And I loved it... I am embarrassed to admit it, but I loved it. I would have never been able to walk the park without it. And while I did not really ride the rides, I rode the scooter. Yet I was present for my kids to have a bit of fun... and they needed and deserved some fun. Watch out world... I was in the need for speed!
Craptacular #3 - Bullying Part 2
So what do I do after returning from a week of stress and worry about my mother-in-law? Basically, I jumped right back into dealing with my daughter's bullying situation. When I got back so much had happened.
You know it is not good when your friend calls you crying because she is so upset that she is the one to tell you something that happened. She and a group of parents were told some horrible things at a PTA meeting. A teacher actually talked about my daughter, while she did not use her name, she referred to her at as the girl in 2nd grade who is lying about bullying. She went on to discuss issues in a public setting things that she should not have been aware of.
This teacher is in a different grade, who is not involved in this process, openly discussed my daughter’s situation and anonymously labeling her a liar. This showed me that someone within the group at the first meeting openly shared the nature of the issues with at least this teacher and, most disturbingly, the faculty had already reached conclusion that my daughter was dishonest. I was appalled!
Things in my life just never seem normal or uncomplicated. Now you see why I told you earlier that my friends should have hung up on me... or at least ran away screaming. Instead that brave and kind friend went to the school meeting with me. Can you say... over and above the duty?!?!
I was not surprised by what they told me during that meeting. They said that they had held an investigation and did not find anything to support my daughter’s claims aside from a few minor behavior issues. All but two of the children they interviewed had denied any wrongdoing. They said they are unable to do anything about past issues because we did not report the incidents at the time they occurred, but they are looking out for future problems. They basically called my daughter a liar... like the teacher did the night before.
After we told them we had parents and proof of both the bullying and the teacher talking at the PTA meeting, our meeting suddenly changed. Magically they began to believe that bullying might have occurred. However, they never really apologized or acknowledged what happened to my child. Basically, I did not trust them any more. How would I keep my child at a school that publicly labeled her a liar and behaved so unprofessionally?
In my head...
Did I mention that these past weeks were crap... it was crap! The bullying was bad. The stroke was bad. Seriously, I am tired of bad.
We literally bought our home to be in this amazing school district. We never imagined that we would be dealing with issues like this... especially with 7 year olds. I never imagined that the issues with the school would get so far out of hand.
I really just wanted the kids to apologize to my child, offer help to the child with severe bullying, and for them to better monitor the kids so it stopped. Instead, I felt like more and more issues and problems with the school just kept coming to light. I fell down the rabbit's hole!!!!
With only a few options available, I applied to the local magnet elementary school. I am hopeful that she will get in to that program for next year. It is done through a lottery... so keep your fingers crossed... and until then... it looks like I will be homeschooling...
"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Episode Reference: The Adventures of Huck Finn, Mark Twain
"Oh, what a turn you did give me!
and how glad and grateful I am it ain’t no worse;
for luck’s against us, and it never rains but it pours..."