Agonizing Uncertainty

As I sit down to write, I am acutely aware of a rather large elephant sitting on my chest. I think that he has probably been with me all through the summer but seems to have gained considerable weight with the advent of this momentous day. I think that perhaps the only thing that will thoroughly dislodge him from my chest is a really good cry. However, I am sitting in my neighbourhood coffee shop so the purging will have to wait until later. In the meantime, I will soothe my sore chest and my aching heart by reaching out to the world through my fingers. I know for certain as I write that I am not the only parent feeling such a complex play of emotions on this significant day. I can feel myself reaching out to my virtual community and feeling comfort in the presence of all the parents who have awakened on this day with their own elephant having taken up residence.   

It is the first day of school and I am not one of the parents doing a jig to celebrate the end of summer holidays and the beginning of the school year. As I stood in the schoolyard just before 9:00 this morning I felt the bittersweet mixture of excitement and anxiety as I watched the children happily greeting each other after a prolonged separation. I watched the teachers looking a little tense and anxious and I watched the parents looking mostly relieved to be sending their offspring back to the structure and routine of school. I watched Michael tear around the schoolyard with his buddies without a care in the world and with that adorable grin splitting his face in ecstatic happiness. I watched Zachary standing in his grade one line like a big guy in the schoolyard looking quiet but contained. I thought about Simon standing in a brand new schoolyard at a brand new school sending Max off to his first day of Middle School. It’s no wonder the elephant is perched so heavily on my chest today; these are some very significant milestones for our family. 

The elephant, however, is there for Michael and Michael only.

Michael was so delighted to be reunited with his friends that he was utterly consumed by happiness as he stood in line waiting to go into school. He didn’t see me standing beside Zachary’s line fighting back the tears. Any parent would have looked at me and thought the significance of the first day of grade one was the reason for my distress. What they would not know is that the elephant on my chest was almost suffocating me under its great weight and that my concern for Michael was staggering. It felt as if time slowed down and I had long moments to watch Michael unobserved. He had no idea that all I wanted to do was break down in anguish and uncertainty. He didn’t know I was desperately questioning whether we had done enough over the summer to prepare him for yet another year of school. He had no idea that I was second guessing myself and wondering whether our choice to opt for biomedical treatment of his ADHD rather than pharmaceutical medication was the right one. He didn’t have a clue that all I wanted to do was whisk him away from the schoolyard and keep him protected from the big, bad world.

I am so relieved that Michael had no idea of my angst. This morning he got to be just a regular kid happily starting grade three with a clean slate. The question is; how long will that slate stay clean? How long will it be before the phone starts to ring and Michael is in trouble? Or have we turned a corner and this year is going to be the best ever? Will this be the year of no phone calls? I am ashamed to admit that I felt jealous of all those parents in our schoolyard with kids who are not going to have trouble at school. I was so envious of the feeling of dropping off their child and not looking back with sick apprehension. I cried softly as I walked home. I talked to the Universe and asked for all the available angels to sit with Michael as he continues to find his way inside his complex little body. I asked for his teacher to fall in love with the true essence of Michael and not the outward difficult kid. I asked for Michael’s delicate self-esteem to continue to heal after the fabulous summer we all had together. I asked for this year to be a whole new era for Michael and our family. I asked for miracles.

I close out my heavy narrative with a wish and a prayer; that Michael will have enough magic within and without to find his way this year. That he will finally have the chance to experience what it feels like to be just a regular kid and be successful at school. That he will have the chance to be happy and want to go to school when he gets up in the morning. That his body has healed enough that he will be able to control the impulses that come so thick and fast. And finally, that I have the strength to hold and be with whatever this year brings and to know that there is perfection in the imperfect and order in the chaos.

I ask that every person who reads this narrative to please hold all the Michaels out there close to your heart today and send them all the love you can muster. These magic kids we love so fiercely are going to change the world someday and it is our love, patience and understanding that is going to make the way just a little bit easier and a little bit happier as they grow.

And to all the parents attempting to breathe with these large creatures perched so heavily on your chests…please know that you are held tenderly and you are not alone.

This entry was posted in ADHD, ADHD and School, Family. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Agonizing Uncertainty

  1. Susan says:

    Katie, you were on my mind today. I hope that Michael had a successful day and that you have your miracle year. I’m sure that Michael wants nothing more than to feel and be perceived as a ‘regular’ kid. Your honesty and insight are inspirational and I’m wishing away the elephant. Susan

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