The other day, I went to pick up my youngest son at a friend’s house. As the car approached the house, I saw someone on the front porch that I initially thought was my son, but I realized it couldn’t be because this kid had a mohawk. Oh yes, it was my son. It seems he needed to “be the person he wants to be.”
I waited until later that evening to have the talk about cutting his hair. At first, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. On more than one occasion during the ensuing two-and-a-half hour conversation, I thought that I should just pin him down and start cutting. I resisted and stayed with the conversation. In the process, something happened: Both of us grew up a little bit in our relationship. We ended up working together to salvage his head from a complete shave. We didn’t save much!
I now have a deeper respect and appreciation of my often troubled teenager. We made a connection that couldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been willing to hear him out, and insist that he hear me too. I have a renewed sense of hope for him, and for us. Sometimes, I just have to fight my gut instinct and let time do its thing instead.
Yesterday we had a Case Conference with my youngest son’s school. For those of you who’ve not had the experience, a Case Conference, in Indiana, is a meeting that is mandated by the law to be held within 10 days of the start of the school year for public school students who have special needs. The result of the conference is an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for the student. The attendees include a teacher of record, a representative of the school system, a special education expert, and a parent.
My son has had an IEP for most of his time in school. This conference that was nearly 6 months late was the best one we’ve ever had. Everyone really focused on the things that each of us must do to help my son be successful at school. No other conference has had this focus. All the rest focused on filling in the blanks on the form that documents the meeting. At this meeting, we talked about the kinds of things that we can all do differently for my son that will help him be more successful in school and increase his chances of graduating from high school.
You can imagine that after waiting 6 months to have this meeting I didn’t expect much. Every time I reach the point that I’m ready to completely give up and let things go; just when I think there is no hope for a successful outcome; along comes something that keeps me from abandoning hope. This meeting reinvigorated my motivation to help my son succeed.