Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Special Cargo - Handle with Care

Like it was yesterday, I remember the night Daniel died and the drive home from the hospital. The drive home to G, who was innocently sleeping, still unaware that life as he knew it had radically altered. I remember talking myself through telling him what had happened. I remember feeling so sick to stomach and so anxious. I knew that the next few moments would be something he remembered his whole life, and I knew I couldn't mess it up.

Since that morning, it has been my highest priority to make sure that G has had everything he needs for as complete of a recovery possible. I want no doubts that I have done everything I can and that he will have a healthy and normal life, regardless of such a huge loss. I know there are no guarantees, but I don't want to ever wonder if there was something I could have done that I didn't. Highest on my priority list of things that he needs is this: he needs to learn the lesson that it sucks that his Dad died, but it isn't an excuse to let life get you down or to expect special treatment. Bad things happen to us all the time, we can't let them cripple us, and the world isn't going to tiptoe around us because of it.

The challenge with this lesson is that occasionally people do give him special treatment. Teachers are the worst culprits. They love children and generally have very soft hearts. They hear his story the first week of class, and then suddenly their standard for performance goes out the window. "Poor baby, he lost his Dad. We can't expect him to focus on....." You fill in the blank. In the past five years, this trend has gradually declined, as he is further and further away from the loss and they know it. However, the tendency towards lenience is still there. I suspect that they give him more chances and are more easily swayed by his charm. I think they grade him slightly easier and give him slack they don't necessarily give to all of the kids in the class. I fear that they are weakening him with their kindness.

I may be wrong. I may have set in my mind a high standard that isn't the norm in current schools. I'm not a teacher, so it's possible. I'm open to that. My fear is that I'm not wrong though, and next year, when G has 6 teachers in middle school - he'll drop into reality with a thud and be expected to perform without any special attention from his teachers and regardless of the loss of his Dad. I hope I'm wrong. I really don't want to find out that my "no excuses" plan for him has been undermined. He is a strong smart child. I really hope to find out that they have been treating him like one.


  1. I understand what you are saying......we live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and that includes the teachers in the school. My husband was very active in our community and also helped with the high school football team.Our boys are 15 and 11 now but were 13 and 9 when their dad passed away. I know everyone here has been helpful and I truely appreciate it all but like you I try to teach them no excuses do your very best always...." no special treatment" but I also know they both still get it.

  2. You've helped your son to be strong...if he stumbles you'll be there to help him find his way...

  3. Such a great post. My husband has cancer and my mother-in-law tries to spoil our daughter like crazy now. I get irritated because I don't want her to play a "victim" role her whole life and I don't want her using her father's illness one day to get what she wants. I, too, don't want my kid to be treated differently. I think it weakens them and can make them unbearable to be around if they become so self-centered. I know adults who are very selfish due to being spoiled because their parents divorced or whatever. We have to make them strong and independent. It's a tough world out there and there are no free rides even if life dealt you a cruddy hand.

  4. Michelle,
    Here is the "teacher" point of view (as well as a widow/mom of 4 kids).... after home, the most important place a child feels safe is school. Teachers, if they are good can know when too much is too much. Your son needs to be different and special and thank God he has those teachers who have the empathy to feel that. Part of being an educator is balancing what a child needs with what they can handle. Have faith in the people you give your child to each day and all will be alright. You have done a great job and he will be fine.

  5. I think you are completely right to hold your Son to a higher standard. As a teacher so I see so many parents who will look for excuses to try and get their child out of living up to a higher standard, even when I know they are capable of so much more!They do their children such a diservice, because once they are out on their own, the world will not give them such excuses. I saw you go girl, keep up the higher standard, because it is no secret that research supports the idea that all children perform better when the bar is set higher( but not unattainable!). In our country this is what has happened is that we teach to the middle most of the time!

  6. As a teacher and a widow, I believe every child is entitled to a little extra love. It does not make them weak it makes them feel valued as a person. Who can learn unless they are emotionally ready to learn. Thank those teachers for taking care of your son. It will not lessen him but give him the strength to meet his full potential!