Meetings and Guilt

I’ve had a lot of meetings with teachers and school administrators in the past few months. I’ve had even more in the past two years. Many of these meetings take place because I call for them. My kid is in crisis, life has become untenable, things must change. I’m always aware that urgent meetings are a disruption of the school personnel’s regular schedule. The meetings certainly disrupt my life and I know that teachers/administrators are every bit as busy as I am. This means that I enter these meetings with a strong urge to apologize for inflicting my kids on the school. I am always aware that there is more I could be doing to resolve the issue. I could support my kid more, be more regular at declaring homework time, establish a more firm bedtime. It is only recently that I recognized my deep emotional belief that it was my job to help my kids function normally in a classroom, and if they didn’t, that was a failure on my part. Pulled out into rational light, I can see how ridiculous this expectation is. Yet it was there in my head and it caused me a lot of grief.

I hit a turning point last November when I sat in a meeting with my son, his counselor, a student advocate, the vice principal, the principal, and a special ed teacher. All of these busy people sat with me and my son for more than an hour while I talked about what we were experiencing, what we’d done to try to resolve it, and expressed a need for help. As I talked, I really could see that we had done every possible thing that was in our power to do, yet my son needed more. Which the school staff identified and moved to provide. The help was wonderful. Even better was walking out of the meeting and realizing that they didn’t blame me. No one was standing in judgment to evaluate why we’d ended up in the emotional pit. They just asked if we’d prefer a rope, ladder, shovel, or backhoe as the means to get out.

After that meeting I began to stop blaming me. It was hard. I had to break long time habits of thought. As we were digging out to a better place, arranging therapy, adjusting medications, changing the school schedule, I learned that I was most helpful to everyone else if I simply said “This is where we are at today” without burying myself under an emotional load of guilt. In problem solving, how you arrived matters less than where you’re headed.

The frequency of meetings has begun to trail off. I’m looking at a March that might be completely free of teacher meetings. I would be fine with that, because it would mean that the arrangements for next year are made and no one is in crisis. In the interim, I’m glad that the only meetings I have coming up are routine meetings about school schedules for next year.