We sat at the dinner table tonight and all my son could talk about was how each school year started at his previous school. What he liked. What he hated. How his therapist told him to handle things.
That last bit is what told me what I needed to know.
Noah, one of my twin sons, has always had a problem “fitting in” and I put that in quotation marks for a reason. It’s not that I think he needs to conform, God knows I didn’t at his age. No, he just has a hard time keeping his thoughts, feelings and anger to himself. It’s like he got the creativity and quirkyness of his Dad and the short fuse of his Mom. That’s a really bad combination.
The part that’s difficult is knowing that we had to change schools and that it’s bothering him. I’ve known for awhile, but he’s not wanted to talk with me about it. He’s talked with his older sister. That, or they’ve both just tried to insulate me from it and that’s not going to work since she’s leaving in 20 days for college.
Changing schools is a necessity, by the way. I’ve moved the boys from their private school to the public one. It’s not just financial, though that plays a role, but also because I simply have no one to pick them up from school each day. Even if the public school has a “4th R” or extended day program I couldn’t get there in time to pick them up by 6pm every day. Between traffic and the uncertainty of my job there’s no realistic solution there. However, the school’s buses and the fact my middle daughter is old enough to watch them granted me the solution. Hannah is going to the public middle school, the boys in the grade school just down the street. I’ll take them to school each morning and the bus takes them near our house each day – less than a couple blocks – and they can get home. It’s a pretty simple solution.
But for a kid whose school career to this point has been littered with incidents and some accidents involving behavior, lack of control and grief this isn’t an easy transition. He’s really worried. Every other night he’s been in my bedroom with worry or bad dreams. I never turn him or any of the kids away if that happens. I can see the concern on his face, though. Abbi tries to head it off and says they’ve talked about it, but it’s obvious he needs to talk more. It’s the conflict in how the kids handle their grief in different ways.
In a lot of ways Noah and his sister are the same. Talking about grief or their mother or what they miss isn’t easy for them, they’d rather push it down and keep it away. Unfortunately, it only can stay packed down for so long before it comes up and explodes out, under pressure. For Abbi, that will ease as she starts her life as a college student. For Noah, it’s another woman in his life who’s leaving. At least he knows this one’s coming back, but sometimes it’s like he hopes or thinks his Mom will return and help him and that’s heartbreaking.
Still, I’m here and in between the pencils and the paper and the calendars and erasers . . . there’s me helping to calm him. Somebody has to stand up for him, even when he’s struggling. Somebody has to stand with him, even when he’s wrong, and help him stay on his feet. That’s always going to be me.
I’m okay with that.