To the parents of the two middle school girls who recognized Elias as we walked into the elementary school to pick up Olive, who smiled, waved, and said hi to my awkward boy, thank you, you are raising your girls right. Or maybe you aren't. Maybe their innate goodness came with them at birth, but I want you to know your girls' gesture warmed my heart on our first day of school in Seward.
To the parents of the boy Elias hit on the second day of school, I'm sorry, we didn't teach him this behavior at home and, believe me, we are working on his tendency to react with his hands instead of his words. For what its worth, he didn't want to hurt your boy, he just wanted him to stop "acting crazy" which Elias later defined as running and jumping around the room during lunch, an act that does not deserve an open-handed smack in the chest from a boy who doesn't know his own strength. I hope you'll forgive my son and if Elias hits your boy again and your child retaliates, its alright by me. Maybe it'll take getting clocked for Elias to learn not to hit, not that I want him hurt, but I'd take a bruised kid over an unpredictably violent one.
To the teacher who held Elias accountable for his actions, not just the hitting, but his denial of doing it and refusing to cooperate, thank you, thanks for reading him the rule book, for calling him out for assault, lying, and insubordination. His disabilities may play a part in his behavior, but we want Elias to learn there are consequences to every action, and we can't do it without the support of all who work with him. Thank you for being firm and fair, for understanding that Elias's challenges preclude him from the typical discipline process this time, but for letting him know there are limits to the school's tolerance of his aggression and refusal to admit or comply.
To the students who will share the classrooms and hallways with Elias, please be patient with our boy, try not to judge and make assumptions, give yourself time to know Elias, if you do, he might make you smile with his quirky humor, humility, and ability to laugh at himself, a trait that every middle-schooler could harness to make this time of your life a little less painful.
To Elias, first things first, keep your hands to yourself-- how many times do I need to say it?-- keep your hands to yourself, please Bud, it will make all of our lives better.
Second, I still can't believe you are now a middle schooler with a locker, the combination already memorized, even as you fight your own body to slowly turn the dial, sitting in the hallway with your eyes mere inches from the lock, I watched as you tried, and tried again, with the support of your teacher and T.A. until finally the door opened.
I hope even more doors open for you this year, as you grow into your twelve-year-old self, as you step into adolescence with all the emotional turmoil that rides on the hormones of this quirky period of time, may you find your way, even as those who support you take a tentative step back.
Middle School, ready or not, here we come...
PS. This picture was taken after the FIRST day of school.