When I look back on my kid’s first day of school in 2022, It will forever be known as a day that was full of joy, excitement, pure happiness, and full of smiles. Not from my kids of course, but for myself. This was a day that I needed desperately after the last 30 months that we have had.
It was nearly 30 months ago, I remember driving home with my car loaded with items from my office that were needed so that I could work from home. The COVID-19 Pandemic had just shut down just about everything… including schools. From that moment forward, it was my wife and I trying to homeschool our children.
I remember thinking to myself that there was no way that I could work from home while trying to homeschool our children. This whole thing at that time, felt very temporary. It started out as only 2 weeks, then it turned into a month, and soon summer hit. The summer of 2020 was the easiest out of these last 2 1/2 years because my wife was still working from home and we could tag team as we attempted to keep the kids entertained. Plus, I was working on a major project at work that I was able to utilize the neighborhood kids for so it kind of worked out.
During that summer, we made the decision to home school our oldest through 4th grade. It wasn’t shortly after that, my wife got the call that she was to make her way back into the office. Our youngest was starting his last year of pre-school which helped ease some of the anxiety I was experiencing knowing I wouldn’t have to care for 2 kids while working. Between making sure that our oldest was signing onto his live classes at the right time and keeping up with my work was fairly easy. The weight of it all was still pushing down on me though. There were times that I needed to help him with his homework… and that new math they teach 4th graders.
But then in late 2020, my father came down with COVID, and I still remember the day that we face timed with him and saw him hooked up to what looked like a CPAP machine, coughing, but looking better than he ever had. His grandchildren were mostly distracted during that phone call and didn’t give him much time…. Or were just being plain wild. It wasn’t long after that, he was intubated and a week after that would pass away.
The death of my father hit me hard, to the point that it was difficult to keep up with social media in any way, let alone think about writing. The pain and the hurt was just too much. And that made helping my son through virtual 4th grade even harder as I tried to keep my head up with handling my father’s estate, his school, and my job.
But even though I was dealing with all of this, our youngest graduated pre-school and we took a much-needed summer vacation. My father even made an appearance as a Tropical Storm named after him hitting our location. It was just what I needed to get the 2021 school year started. Our oldest was on his way to 5th grade and our youngest was starting kindergarten.
During our youngest annual check-up, his pediatrician made a note that we might want to be referred to a specialist to look for ADHD and that is when things really started to fall apart. The first month to month and a half of school was the honeymoon period for him. Then he started to run out of the classroom, eventually running OUT of school, then throwing things, and hurting (not intentionally) fellow students and his teacher. It became almost a daily trip at 9 am to go and pick him up. He didn’t have an IEP in place, so he wasn’t protected from being “suspended,” a term that his principal and I used very loosely for what was going on. The fall of 2021 I spent more time in the principal’s office than I did in the entire 13+ years of my school years.
It wasn’t shortly after he tried to hurt one of his teachers (knowing that this was the only way he would get to go home) that we decided to pull him from kindergarten and home-school him. It worked out for us as I was still working from home and shortly into 2022 I took on a new position that allowed me to permanently work from home. It was exactly what we needed and the change in the working environment was exactly the change that I needed for my mental health.
Throughout the year, our youngest received IEP minutes with our school as we worked with them to bring him back to school in the fall for 1st grade. We were still waiting on our behavioral pediatrician referral while his behavior only worsened. He was obstinate, and emotional, and wanted nothing more than to watch his shows on TV. Trying to get him to do his “home” schoolwork was difficult… that’s putting it mildly.
I remember the day we finally got the call from a pediatric behavioral clinic to set up the appointments for his behavioral therapy. I hung up the phone after setting up the appointment which was nearly two months out after scheduling, and I cried. It was what I needed to give me a positive outlook for the first time in nearly 2 years.
The next two months over the summer were the hardest. They were the months that I started to check out, focus on my work, and ignore my child(ren). I hate that it had even gotten to that point but I was at the end of my rope. Two years into having one of the kids home at every minute demanding food, entertainment, and no regard to if I was in a video call with work had pulled my rope so tight that I was ready just to let go.
Then an official ADHD diagnosis hit in late July, which also meant that the much needed medication was prescribed that we hope would help our 1st grader stay in class. It was exactly what I needed when I needed it, leading up to the start of school this August.
Unsure if this would really help him in school, is still yet to be known but the first day of school came, and I could not have been happier. My wife had just started a new job that gave her the opportunity to work from home more often helping with the everyday stress of parenting an ADHD child.
I admit that on the first day of school in 2022 I was overjoyed. I did express this excitement more than i probably should the night before as we got the kids to bed at a decent hour. It was the first night in a long while that I was able to relax. I knew that the next day while we all had to wake up earlier than we normally do, I was going to be able to work without the worry of making sure that one of the kids was doing their schoolwork or how much screentime they were having.
This was the day that I needed for myself, for my mental health. I just hope that it sticks and we are on the right path both to learning to live with COVID and with keeping our youngest in school.
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