To my dear friend,
How do I even begin to tell you how much I appreciate you? On Monday, you volunteered to watch my son because it was a Teacher Work Day, which for me usually means a Teacher Get-No-Work-Done Day because Squeaker is out of school. Your kindness is beyond limits.
Usually Teacher Work Days are painful for me and for him because he’s stuck at work with me, I get crabby because he doesn’t want to be here and I’m not getting anything done, and he is bored out of his mind and wants to go home. Usually I have to worry about meetings because I know he’ll (again) be bored and want to leave, and when I can’t leave the meeting, he’ll rip something up, or have a meltdown in front of everyone I work with, or start laughing uncontrollably (and loudly) about something unknown to me. If I have a meeting with a parent, I have to worry about him making faces and pushing his cute little face up against the glass, or coming in and announcing loudly that he needs to use the potty, saying “poopy” and laughing, or someone giving him crayons and him destroying them. Of course, I can’t really fault him for any of this, because by bringing him to work with me, I’ve set him up for failure. Usually, this is how my “Work Days” go down, but not yesterday.
Monday, I had an IEP meeting and could actually focus on the meeting. I felt professional because I could be attentive and share concerns with the parent, assist my coworker with paperwork, and didn’t have to excuse myself every 10 minutes to deal with my child. On Monday, I was able to go talk to the AP about one of my students and didn’t have to think about the length of the conversation. On Monday, I could sit down and do lesson plans without having to keep a vigilant eye on my child, for fear that he’d run down the hallway while I was working and then have to be drug back to my room, screaming and thrashing. On Monday, I was able to send coherent emails about situations that needed to be taken care of. I was able to talk to a teacher who needed assistance modifying things for a student. In short, on Monday, I was able to do my job. That’s all because of you.
I don’t leave him with just anyone because I know how he is, but you assured me it would be okay. You didn’t call me once. Even when he had a two-hour cycle of meltdowns, destroyed three of your books, fed your daughter’s wooden train to the dog, and slammed his body against your wall. You didn’t call to worry me about it. You handled it with patience and understanding. You dealt with what I normally would only expect family and trained professionals to deal with. And when I apologized and told you I felt bad about what he did, you said to me, “This is your reality and its mine as your friend.” You told me that you accepted my kids for who they are and that you’d do it all over again.
Your love and compassion bring me to tears, even today. While I’m beating myself up because I can’t control my child, you’re reassuring me that I’m a good parent and that you know his behavior is not for lack of parenting. Even when he’s destroyed things in your house and (I know) stressed you out, you’re patting me on the back. I should give you a hug for doing what you do. As a friend, as a good person, I appreciate you. Yes, there is a lot to love about Squeaker. He’s not a bad child. He’s lovable and sweet. But many people would forget that in those moments, on those days, when he’s having meltdown after meltdown. Many people would refuse to ever watch him again or come up with reasons why they can’t. I feel sure that, given an escape clause, as I tried to give you Monday, many people would take it.
So, from the depths of my heart, thank you. I’m still not altogether sure that I can ever ask you to do that for me again. I’m definitely going to repay you for the things he destroyed. But, as much as I try to put it in words, I’m not sure if I can ever express the gratitude I feel for having you in my life. NOt just for what you did on Monday, but what you do every day. For listening, for caring, for supporting, and for accepting me (and my children) as we are.