It was the afternoon of January 18th, I was enjoying a peaceful afternoon between church services. The kids had been farmed out to friends, it was just me and the cat. It was every mother’s dream, a little peace, and quiet at last!
Shortly before dinner, a call came in. My third child was hurt. He’d been tobogganing with his friend, seeing who could get to the bottom of the hill the fastest. Liam was determined to win!
When all of a sudden…
Laughter quickly turned into screams and those screams didn’t stop. Tears didn’t stop. He was hurt. Not just a little hurt, but a lot hurt. Hurt for reals.
The following month was like caring for a newborn again. He was on liquid codeine for the first two weeks. He couldn’t get out of bed by himself, he couldn’t go to the washroom or take a bath by himself. His pain tolerance is very low and the pain he was experiencing was high. Every time someone would brush past his shoulder, he’d cry out in agony.
A month in, he fell down the stairs, doing damage to the healing bone. Setting us back a bit with his pain levels, his healing process, and his mental status.
I could see a sadness forming behind his eyes.
We tried to send him back to school. A couple of hours into the day, the school would call me to come to get him. He was crying, saying he was in too much pain. I kept trying. I kept sending him back.
Until one day…
He called me from school, he wanted to come home. I stood my ground and said NO. Enough was enough, he had to push through and stay in school. He was sent back to his class.
Around thirty minutes later the school office called me back. He didn’t make it back to his class so she went looking for him, a male staff was sent into the boy’s bathroom. There he lay, face down, by the toilet, passed out.
When they brought him to the office, he was shaking uncontrollably, his lips looked like he’d been stung by a bee, and there were blisters surrounding his mouth. He was in shock.
We spent the next 12 hours at the hospital, getting poked, prodded, pricked, and pressed.
In trying to get to the bottom of why he passed out, he told me a few boys had been pushing him around. His shoulder was hurting even more now. When he asked for help getting one of his books off the top shelf in his locker, they mocked him. No one helped. He felt like the halls were closing in.
This wasn’t the first time he’d been teased or pushed around in school.
He has never enjoyed school, not from day one. Each year I’ve met with the teachers to hear how bright he is, but doesn’t want to do the work. Each year I’ve asked for assistance, I’ve asked for support, I’ve asked for testing. At the end of Grade 6, the principal from his last school told him to his face, “You can do the work, you’re just being lazy.” I almost came unglued.
He’s the kid who spends more alone time in the schoolyard than playing with his classmates. He’s the kid who rarely gets invited to birthday parties. Yet, he is the kid who lights up the room when he enters it. His smile melts hearts. His gentleness calms souls. He has a quick wit and a love for facts and figures. And jokes, boy does he love to tell jokes. We tell him he’ll be a great actor one day.
But this time, he couldn’t take it anymore, this time he had a severe panic attack.
I was blown away by the kindness of others after this whole incident took place. Friends far and wide came over to visit, to sit and talk with him, and to make sure I was OK. A friend of mine dropped off my favourite wine, treats, and a card, but most importantly, she brought with her a hug.
My friend and author, Ann Douglas, saw what we were going through and shipped her latest book, “Parenting Through the Storm” to me. Which I’ve been devouring and is AMAZING. In fact, it is so great, that when I saw a friend going through a hard time with her kids, I sent her a copy! #PayItForward
For two Saturdays in a row, his Junior Youth leader from church came by the house to play games with him and him alone. His best friend’s family (from church) came over with a present for him and food for us. And others came by from church at different times to see how he was doing. His older brother’s youth group was at our house and loved on him with words of affirmation and prayed for him.
Our house was filled to the brim with love.
One night we had a surprise guest show up at our home to take him out for dinner (along with his older brother). Do you recall my stories about my favourite summer camp (Ontario Pioneer Camp) in the Muskokas? The place which stole my heart last summer was when one of the counselors SAW my son for the awesome kid he is? If you don’t remember, read about it here, “When a Boy is Seen for his Awesomeness.” He came for a visit to help lift Liam’s spirit.
Liam’s face beamed for hours! We couldn’t get him to stop talking.
Our community came around us like a big warm hug. It refreshed me, it renewed my hope and it got me to the point where I could stand without worrying about the future for our son. The kindness of others helps bring healing!
Next steps for our son…
In talking to the principal, it was determined that because he is so far behind in Grade 7, the recent episode in the bathroom, and their inability to provide him with the necessary tools to learn how to cope better while in school, he should stay home for the remainder of the year.
It wasn’t an easy decision but we’ve decided it is best for him to stay home. Homeschooling will be a challenge and adjustments in life will have to be made but thankfully my husband also has a flexible schedule and will co-teach. The city I live in is packed with homeschooling groups, the support system in our church is beyond amazing, and of course, the friends and family I couldn’t live without, are the biggest group of cheerleaders we could ever have asked for.
We are far from alone in this journey and that makes a world of difference!