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Reflections on being a parent and what it means.

26 years ago today, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. He weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces and was twenty-two inches long. He was a colicky baby, I blamed it on him being my first child and I just didn’t know what I was doing. I had him when I was twenty-five years old. I walked the floors with him at night. I say this because he was never an easy kid but I loved him just the same. I did whatever I could to understand and support him through everything.

He had a lot of behavioral issues in pre-school and kindergarten, so much that eventually I had him evaluated by both a Psychologist and Psychiatrist and they determined he had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Back in the 1990’s, there were many children diagnosed with this. He also was tested at the school district and they determined he had a reading and writing disability. From then on he had an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) that lasted through until he graduated from high school. Anyone that knows about IEP’s know that every three years, testing, evaluations and meetings with the school district take place. I was over at his school more than I was at home. I determined that my son was not going to be mistreated, he would get the best education and he would graduate high school. He would not be a drop out.

As he grew older, he didn’t have the behavioral issues and he proved to be one of the most hardworking kids regarding his school work. He never turned a paper in late and always finished his homework. He just wasn’t the best test-taker. He worked a number of jobs since he was 16 years old and his bosses loved him. He was active in our Catholic church's youth group until he was age 18, taking part in many volunteer projects over the summers. Upon high school graduation, college wasn't in the cards so he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He hasn’t looked back since. In seven years in the Army, he is now ranked as an E-6, Staff Sergeant. He is married and he and his wife are awaiting the birth of their first child, a girl due in June 2018. He is almost done completing his Bachelor's degree via online learning. 

I say all of this because I not only am really proud of him as he had to overcome a lot in life but I know that as a parent, I did do right by him in supporting him through everything. If I hadn’t fought for him to get tested through the school district, if I wasn’t over at his school as much as I was, if I didn't encourage him to care about others and stay involved in his youth group, he could have been on drugs or he could have been a high school dropout. I know that I never ignored his problems and I always listened to him.

Yesterday, a fifteen year old boy open fired in a school in Western Kentucky and killed two and injured eighteen. This was the nation’s eleventh shooting in 2018 and it was only January 23rd. Yes, I know people kill people, it doesn’t have anything to do with guns. That’s at least one line of thought. The other line of thought, is how did this fifteen year old student have the guns that he did? What was his motive? Did his parents have any idea that he was so troubled? I think the hardest part of being a parent is blaming oneself over our children’s problems.

We aren’t always to blame but if it is a fifteen year old kid, there had to have been warning signs that were ignored. I’m sorry but I can’t help but think that blinded parents over this entitlement generation are part of the problem. Do we know where are kids are at? Do we know who their friends are? If he or she seems isolated with no friends, have we had those conversations with our kids to find out why? Are there unresolved bully issues going on? Have we made ourselves a school presence at parent-teacher conferences? Are we asking their teachers if they notice any socialization issues with our children? Yes, we need to stay involved in our children’s lives and tuned into them to make sure they are okay. 

Yes, before you ask, my son was bullied a lot from the time he was in kindergarten on up and I was one of those parents that was at his school talking to his teachers and the principal over it. By the time he was in high school, the bully issues were over and he had a couple of close friends that lasted until he graduated high school. Now he has made friends throughout the world on every Army base he has been assigned to (five at this count). So it wasn’t always easy but being in your children’s corner, being supportive and tuned into their lives makes all the difference in the world.

Hugs and voraciously hungry kisses,