I absorbed some of Benjamin’s school self-consciousness this morning as I walked onto his campus for the first time since his diagnosis. There have been so many acts of kindness emerging from those walls these last three weeks, I was afraid it might overwhelm me.
Banyan is a safety patrol this month and has to report before the first bell, so I scheduled Benjamin’s IEP meeting super early. That was a good move. I was able to sneak in relatively unnoticed, with only a few parents and teachers trickling in at that hour. That few was enough. It’s like Benji says: he may be up for one-on-one visits, but he’s not ready for the whole class. As many friends as I have in that school family, that’s how I feel too. Crowds of familiar, loving faces just unravel me.
I signed everything I need to sign to authorize the Hospital Homebound program, giving the school the okay to send Benji’s teacher (Mrs. West) to our house each week. They also offered us counseling services if and when he needs them. Everyone was so kind.
As the meeting was ending, Mrs. West invited me to the classroom. When I walked in they were all sitting on the floor on their storytime rug. Mrs. West handed me a huge Gator themed gift basket for Benjamin, put together by some of the amazing moms in his class. In addition to lots of other goodies, inside the basket was a soft fleece blanket with a fringed border the kids made themselves with their sweet healing hands. They’d also had a banner made and invited the entire first grade to sign it. It hangs above his bed now. He smiled so big reading all the names.
Mrs. West asked the class if they had any questions for me. The kids wanted to know how he was feeling, if he was tired, and if he was over his “cold.” I explained that his blood was sick, and that even though the medicine he’s getting is making his blood better, it can make him feel pretty lousy sometimes, but not quite like a cold. One little boy desperately wanted to know if Benji could play soon. I told the class about his one-on-one preference, and explained the importance of washing hands, and keeping coughs and sneezes away. I made it through all the questions and all of those big eyes without betraying Benji’s privacy or my own emotions. When I walked out, I caught a glimpse of his nameplate on his empty desk. I kept it together. Barely.
After leaving the first grade corridor, I headed upstairs to my meeting with Banyan’s teacher. I was nervous about this one. I am so used to being deeply involved in Banyan’s schoolwork, projects, and classroom life–as well as Benji’s–and I worried that my necessary absence was taking a toll on our big kid. Aside from a couple of low-ish math test scores (which seemed to plague a lot of his classmates), Banyan is doing just fine. His amazing teacher sees so much in him. We agreed that this new independence may be just what he needs, academically. After all, he’s heading to middle school, where mommies in the classroom are a thing of the past.
When I got home, Benji and I tackled nearly three hours of schoolwork. Most of it was outside again, and lots of it involved laughing. Albeit tired, my guy was very sparkly today. The sun was shining. Another delicious dinner was served. All five pieces of today’s mail contained well wishes. It was a good day.
Michael rescheduled his morning so that I could spend nearly two hours at the school. He rescheduled his week so we can be together for chemotherapy tomorrow. He is amazing, and his presence is so grounding for Benjamin. Again, I don’t know how single parents do this.
So, tomorrow our Friday guy will get another dose of vincristine and a blood draw. We’ll get to see his primary oncologist, Dr. Moore. We’ll have more questions. And afterward, we’ll probably stop for tacos, and another carving in the clusia hedge.
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We feel it’s time to move to this new blog format as we continue on this journey. We hope it will be a little easier for our friends and family to navigate. We support Caring Bridge, and are thankful for the platform it provided for us. The many kind “hearts” and comments there were invaluable during our first three weeks of this new normal. We thank all of our Caring Bridge followers for praying and caring about our sweet boy. To visit our Caring Bridge site and see just how kind our circles are, click here.