By Sylvie Griffiths:
Giving your children lousy news is something we as parents dread. This is a part of life, sure, but it’s a challenging and heartbreaking. Recently, my four children have been given news that their grandma has dangerous cancer, two of their closest non-relative family members are leaving the state this year, and their other grandmother’s beloved boyfriend has had a massive heart attack. Needless to say, all this information sharing was terrible for my husband and me.
Telling my youngest that he must repeat third grade, honestly, stressed me out the most of all these situations. Jake, my transgender son, has struggled academically since kindergarten. Reading issues commonly cause him frustration and anxiety. Last year we even hired a professional tutor to try to get him on a level with the state reading standards.
Informing my baby that he could not go on to fourth grade with his friends, kept my husband and I awake at night. However, this was not our only problem involving Jake. My husband and I have also spent a good portion of this summer advocating for our son’s rights and questioning why supports for his academic issues were not given attention until the last two weeks of the school year.
Jake will be repeating the third grade at a new school. Weeks of meeting with school superintendents and prospective school principals occurred without Jake’s knowledge of our advocacy. The unspoken fears of our little guy being in an entirely new environment have now started. What will happen when Jake tells new children at his new school he is transgender? Will any teachers question him merely being himself? There are too many worries to write down.
Jake loves his new school. We toured it before classes begin. It is his favorite color, and his best friend will be in the same grade as him. Jake noticed the principal loves Harry Potter, so he is already talking about what we will get her for a gift. My youngest son is such a kind, loving person. He is a snuggler and a hand holder. He still says, “I love you” and isn’t yet staring at a phone like his older siblings. His happiness with the school change, regardless of the repeated grade, has given our family our smiles back.
I will be nervous on the first day of school. I worry about all my kids. I wish them all a fun, exciting day. Jake will talk to the first person he meets and will absolutely have a new best friend (or a few) by dinnertime. I feel confident that our work to get him in a better environment will benefit him. We hope that he gets his confidence at school back, and we are pleased he will have extra supports this year. In under three weeks, we will know how that first day goes for our kids, and I am ready for them to experience a new year.
About Sylvie Griffiths:
Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.
She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Healthcare-Adult Community Concentration, from the University of South Florida. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.