Big changes

I wish I could tell you there was some big scandal, but there is not. We, after 3 incredibly difficult years, are making a big change. We were unbelievably lucky to emerge from our tragedy with our son.  We were tired, worn out, numb. We were going through the motions. 10 years ago, Dave pursued a job as a Superintendent. He had quite a few interviews in some very nice communities. He was a finalist several times. Finally one day I said, “Maybe someone bigger is in control. Maybe this isn’t our time to move”. I believe with all my heart that I needed to be here for my mom, and the kids needed to be here to graduate with their childhood friends. They will always have their hometown of Paris. Absolutely no regrets. I said I was willing to move, and once when Jake was a baby, Dave accepted a job as assistant principal in a town 3 hours up the road. We were excited. Then we realized we were looking at homes like the ones in Paris, but triple the cost. We concluded we wouldn’t be able to afford to live there. We came home, and Paris was good to us. Dave has had wonderful opportunities in this town. Opportunities most would never have in education. We will always be forever grateful. Watching your child fight for his life and staying 100% dedicated to your job is no easy task. My husband did it well. The first cooperative high school and that beautiful complex north of town will forever have his name on it, and he should feel proud. He’s done a great job. Not everyone has always liked or agreed with all of the decisions that had to be made, but he and his boards worked diligently and honestly to put the best interest of the kids first and foremost. He still had that itch to fulfill that last goal of his educational career. He has done the job of Superintendent many years, but he didn’t officially hold the title. Director was a title he helped choose. I encouraged him to send out resumes this year. I even choose Morrisonville. I believe things happen for a reason when the timing is right. Jake had already signed a lease on his apartment in Terre Haute. He will start his class at Rose in July. He’s ready to spread his wings. My dad, whom I was most sad to tell, is very active and social. We talk on the phone everyday, and that won’t change. I became enchanted with Taylorville my first visit and was excited to make an offer on our house before Dave even had a chance to see it. It’s  a strong Catholic community, and my goal is to get back to church. Molly will only be 1 hour away. She has come to understand that won’t be too close; it may even have some advantages. My heart skipped a beat when I learned there was a science opening in Paris with no applicants. That feeling made me reach out to a small school near Taylorville that needs a science teacher. I will need the company of the students and the ability to interact, and let’s face it, talk all day since I won’t have my best friends with me. The thought of moving used to make me physically ill, but this has given me a burst of energy and excitement that we both needed.  No one is mad, there are not hard feelings, no scandal. It’s true that Dave still had a year left on his contract, but the board did not hold him to it. Like Mr. Zuber said, and Dave continues to say, “The one thing you can count on in education is change…”  We wish good things and continued success here in Paris- thank you!

Jenny

It didn’t take long for us to notice her. She and her family were pretty close to my sister and me on the beach. I wonder what kind of cancer she has? Other than her bald head, she looked healthy. Do you think she’s pregnant? “Oh surely not.” Her daughter was barely a year old. “I bet they discovered she had breast cancer when she was pregnant. Hopefully she’s done with her treatments, and this is a celebratory vacation…” They seemed happy. “I will ask her if I get the chance.” Are you sure she would want to talk about it? “She does…” The next day, she got close enough for my sister to ask if she and the gal she was with were sisters. No. She came over and leaned over and explained their friendship. I spoke up, “This is our first time back to the beach in 3 years. My son had leukemia.” She sat down in the sand next to me. How old is he? How is he? That’s way too young! She took off her hat to show us her bald head. I’m not sure what she said first. We think she said it started as melanoma. How did you know something was wrong? After the birth of her daughter, Bentley, she had a numb spot on her inner knee. The doctor thought it was the after effect of her epidural. The cancer had already spread to her lungs. The first thing she asked her doctor, “Was it the diet Coke?” My sister and I acknowledged her anxiety, but we all knew now that it was a gene mutation. She had been given 3 to 6 months. She had outlived their predictions and was optimistic about a new drug she was taking. It targets the bad cells, but leaves the good ones alone. Their trip was only for the long holiday weekend because she had to get back for chemo. They found more tumors in the meninges. I knew that location too well. The tumors were in the lining of her brain and spinal cord. There is one large tumor wrapped around my spine and smaller tumors everywhere else. I have had radiation too, but this time it’s not bothered me. I have 3 good weeks, then a bad week with chemo. At that moment her husband was trying to convince Bentley to put her feet on the sand. Jenny started video taping it then seamlessly handed me her phone. I videotaped her holding her arms out, happily encouraging Bentley to walk on the sand. She thanked me for capturing it on tape. It became apparent that she was trying to record as many memories as possible. Later Molly, Jessica and Tori were sweet-talking Bently. Jenny begged them to stay out of tanning beds. She promised to pray for Jacob, and we promised the same for her. 

Good luck, Jenny and many prayers… 

Independent

I hear parents complaining often about their stubborn child. Is it your second child? Usually it is. When I was growing up, I was different from my other siblings. I was headstrong, stubborn, a pain in the ass…constantly. I grew up feeling bad about myself, and it wasn’t until I started teaching that I realized that I was born the way I was, and it wasn’t actually a possession of the devil. There were other kids out there just like me. You could have yelled and tried to beat me into submission, but it most likely wouldn’t have worked. When I gave birth to myself after having the perfect first-born child, I knew how to handle her. Everything, everyday could have been a potential battle, but I chose it not to be. Now Baby is home briefly from college. We wondered if she would be able to get out of bed and get herself to class. We worried that she would lose her homework, lose her way home from class or Walmart. Should we have held her back because of her August birthday? No, we absolutely had to send her to school- she was driving us crazy. At 18, it was easy to leave her at college because we were so mad at each other the day she moved in. I was still mumbling under my breath 2 hours into the car ride home. But within a few days, she texted. She liked her professors in Chemistry and Criminology. Whew…. Molly has finished her freshman year at the top of her class (take that Justin Woo). She not only got straight A’s, but she set the curve over and over again. There was supposed to be a curve on the Chem 2 final, but Molly got a 105%. Maybe she curved it according to the next grade- an 82%. She took higher level biology and chemistry. Now she has to decide between university or college physics and Calculus 1 or 2. She will have enough hours after her summer class to technically be a junior. When she earned a 100% on her Bio test, her professor lamented that no one had ever done that in the 25 years he had been teaching. Even in her 200 student lecture classes, Molly was on a first name basis with her professors. This one talked to another colleague about Molly being her research assistant. Normally those spots are reserved for graduate students, but Faith asked Molly to join her for a three year research spot with the plan to get Molly published before she graduates. She now occasionally dog sits her Labs and they run together on Wednesdays. She has an interview at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital and has sent out applications to scribe. I’d never heard of that, but she will be assigned a hospital, follow doctors around and take their notes for them. She loves her new grown-up life. Last night she was telling me her plans the next few weeks. It reminded me of myself. A few days at home was fine, but then I wanted to take off and be with my new college friends. My parents always let me because it was easier than not. But she has far exceeded anything that I could have ever imagined. Everything she has done, she’s done on her own. In first grade, I built a replica of the Court House for Jake’s project, but when Molly came along, she made it clear I was not helping. It was hard for me to sit back and watch her build her ocean diorama, are you sure you want to put that there? I shut up, and secretly worried how hers would look next to the parents’ projects. At least everyone would know that Molly did her own, or at least I hoped they would. That was the beginning, and she has never looked back, never asked us for help on anything. I’d like to think that her independence and confidence was nourished way back when I allowed her to wear what she wanted, cut her hair the way she wanted and just told her she was beautiful…

Bubbles for Brody

Two days after Jake celebrated his first birthday of his new immune system, Brody Stephens died. My heart has been heavy, and I feel like someone is sitting on my chest. I have gone on with everyday life, but I think about Brody a lot. At any given time when Jake was hospitalized the past three years, I could have taken the tunnels or walkways over to Riley Children’s hospital and met him. When we learned Jake was going to be hospitalized for so long for the transplant, I immediately asked if he could go to Riley. I was thinking about myself. We had been in Riley before, and I knew the rooms would be much more comfortable for Dave and me.  The doctor looked at me sideways and then grinned. He immediately took Jake, who was using a Hoverboard because it was cooler than a wheelchair to get around, and me to the 5th floor BMT unit to show us around. The old wing of the hospital had been updated, and it was nicer than the rest of IU Health, but it wasn’t as nice as Riley. What I didn’t realize at the time was the sadness that we would have been surrounded by everyday. Jake was a baby at IU, but at Riley, we would have been surrounded by children who were dying. Everyday. On the Be the Match FB page, I came to “know” and love Brody. He was diagnosed with AML leukemia as a toddler. A few months before his 5 year anniversary of kicking cancer’s butt, (the magic milestone to officially say you have beaten and survived cancer), the leukemia returned with a vengeance. Brody would have to have a stem cell transplant. Most people have to have the cancer return before the transplant is considered. “The benefits of the transplant do not outweigh the risks”. Jake was unique. His immune system was flawed, and technology and advances had allowed them to know that by 2012, and they knew Jake had no other chance.  But had Jake been diagnosed with AML as a kid, it would have been a different story, and like Brody, the cancer would have returned. There were 5 potential biological matches in Brody’s immediate family. He had 3 older brothers and his parents. No one matched. I am not sure if they couldn’t find a match for Brody because he was given stem cells from cord blood. In today’s medicine, that is the 3rd choice. Biological, non-relative donor then cord blood. Prior to Brody getting to this point though, there were many complications. He had become septic twice, and a part of his intestines had been removed. When Brody was diagnosed the second time, they could not get him into remission. After Jake’s chemotherapy in December of 2015, it never occurred to me that he might have to have more rounds of chemo. Brody had 5 rounds of brutal chemo. Several times, the chemo was given for an entire month. This required hospitalization. During these hospitalizations, Brody would meet new little friends, and he would see some of these friends earn their Angel wings. It had to be heartbreaking. The day he rang the bell and got to go home after chemo, he also lost his dear little friend. I was irked to spend a week in the hospital this last time, but it wasn’t uncommon for Brody to be hospitalized for a hundred days in a row. They never reached complete remission, but they decided to go ahead with his stem cell transplant. Brody had engraftment, but his case was very complicated because technically the leukemia cells were still present.  He was so sick with complications from the chemo and transplant including graft vs. host disease, SOS (a condition where the small blood vessels in his liver were blocked), and his right lung collapsed from fluid build up.  He kept vomiting, and had trouble gaining his strength back. They reached out to other hospitals for advice. Brody was approved for a trial therapy which included receiving t-cells. It was not FDA approved yet, but it was his best chance for his body to be able to fight. He spent many days in the ICU and had surgeries to try to determine the cause of and correct  some of his complications. He was fighting several viruses. The BK virus affects the bladder, and is pretty common after chemo. Jake was irritated by the virus. Brody had to have stints put into his kidneys and go on dialysis because of it. On the rare occasions he was allowed to go home, Brody’s love was basketball. He dribbled in the hospital to stay up on his game. He became friends with many of his basketball heroes. He was visited by several. In March he traveled to Oakland to meet the coach and players of his favorite team. He was a fighter. He had tremendous courage and the will to grow up with his brothers and play basketball. He fought leukemia twice, and he was proud to say he beat it. His new, very fragile, not perfect immune system could not beat the viruses that plagued him from the very beginning. Everybody who knew Brody loved him. He had millions of prayer warriors, but maybe this was God’s plan all along. It’s hard to accept that our prayers were answered, but their’s seemingly were not. The science part of my brain wonders if there had been a gene mutation in Brody’s fetal development like Jake’s that made this inevitable. Would things have been different if one of his brothers had been a perfect match? It doesn’t matter. All that matters now is his family picking up the pieces and moving forward without Brody. Rest in peace Brody Stephens ( December 19, 2008- April 29, 2017) age 8…

7 days

This has been a long week. Jake had tapered off the prednisone for his graft vs host awhile ago, but shortly thereafter, he became short of breath. He was starting to work out a little and blamed it on being out of shape. Hmmm… I let it go, but it remained tucked in the back of my mind. As Easter weekend approached, I knew the shortness of breath was something more. Jake felt good and looked good. He went to a party Friday night after work. He was up way too late and had been in a hot tub. The next morning he slept and went to work later that day. He commented that he felt worse but not bad enough to skip work. My mind was spinning by then. I knew he needed to see his doctor, but I also knew Jake wasn’t going to willingly miss school. “I have 2 big tests this week.” Do you want to go to the emergency room this weekend? “God no!” We both knew what going to the ER would mean. It would definitely mean an admission. I deep down knew that going to see his doctor on Monday would mean the same thing. For Jake there wasn’t going to be a trip to EZ care with a z-pak and Medrol dose pack. Not anymore. Easter Sunday I was at my Dad’s to use his oven. Dave called. Jake had gotten up and felt like he should go to the ER. After evaluating the situation, we decided they could wait and have dinner with the cousins, then drive to Indy. “The ER doc thinks he has a touch of pneumonia. They are admitting him. They have to find a bed.” I panicked. I assumed he’d be back on the bone marrow transplant unit. Thank goodness he was. As expected, they started him on broad spectrum antibiotics. Unfortunately they turned him over to infectious disease. This wasn’t our first rodeo with them. It was a team of bright eyed junior docs. I knew the routine. I didn’t worry too much about what they said until they mentioned lung biopsy. Wait a minute. I am sure he has graft vs host. He needs prednisone. Can’t they tell that without a biopsy? My heart sank. “We can do the bronchioscope, and it’s possible they can do a needle biopsy at the same time. We feel it’s viral or bacterial.” It’s not, but I know you have to follow protocol… We continued to wait. Meanwhile Jake was receiving nothing to ease his shortness of breath.  “We really don’t see any differences in his lungs from his last x ray. The tests so far have come back negative.” Of course they have. I don’t understand where pulmonary has been. Why haven’t they been here? I know this isn’t your fault, but we’ve done this before. Infectious disease walked away 3 times when Jake had the bacterial infection. Pulmonary left sooner. It took the neurologist just caring enough to figure it out. My kid doesnt have an infection. He has been sick his whole life. He needs prednisone. If you need to do the scope, then why aren’t we doing it? Why hasn’t someone at least given him a breathing treatment? It wasn’t this guy’s fault, but all I could see was more time slipping away. Jake was within 2 weeks of finishing Calculus 2 and Physics 2, and my heart was breaking for him. Dave came over. I needed a break. Deep down, I was starting to worry that the cancer was back. His BMT doctor came in and expressed hope that it was viral or bacterial pneumonia. Graft vs host could cause permanent damage. But they started moving forward with tests.  A sonogram and CT scan were perfomed and the scope was scheduled for the next morning at 8 am. At home I was lonely and still worried. I went back the next night. The scope went well. I was much nicer to the infectious disease team the next time they came in. I went back to the first grade. I know you don’t care, but I’m going to tell you anyway. You might never see another case like Jake, but what if you did… In the meantime, pulmonary and respiratory had also been in. A professor and friend from Jake’s university offered to help him finish his semester. Everything from the scope came back negative. There was no evidence of damage from graft vs host. It had been caught early. He was finally given 60 mg of prednisone. His little cheeks are already swollen, but he doesn’t feel short of breath. As always, he’s handled this with grace. He plans to go to class tomorrow.  It’s Sunday, and he’s going home. A familiar face from last year stopped by. He was a fellow, but now works here full time. He wanted to say Happy 1st Birthday to Jake. April 27th was when he received Molly’s cells. He and I agreed that it was remarkable that this had been his only stay in the hospital. I stopped writing at that point because the nurse came in to go over discharge. We are now home. Jake is already showing the side effects of the prednisone. He’s anxious to talk to his professors.  He’s upbeat and hopeful. Thank God it was only a minor setback…

Lucky

Today at the hospital, we saw a young man who looked familiar. He was with his wife and 2 little girls in the cancer center. Jake hadn’t seen his doctors since December, and this was a routine visit. I asked the man if it was possible that he had visited us in the bone marrow transplant unit last year. A big smile formed on his face. Definitely! He had stopped by to give Jake encouragement that he could endure, survive and thrive after a BMT. The difference though was he had received his own stem cells. They had found a mass in his chest 4 years ago.  He was exercising and was short of breath.  His own stem cells had been taken to help him endure the chemo. There weren’t the same risks as with a donor transplant.  Most of the patients at that time were getting their own stem cells. It made me feel lonely and scared. I hoped he was back for just a check up. He looked good. He was interested in Jake. “How are you doing?” I asked. The cancer had returned. This time it had been in his lungs. He stayed positive though. They were trying a new treatment, and he only had 2 more rounds. He had responded well. I immediately thought to myself, wondering if he had some unnamed gene mutation that would cause the cancer to keep coming back. Each time with a vengence that would eventually take his life far too young. Science knows so much, yet so little. It has come so far, yet there is still much to be learned. Another young man recently died from an unknown, unnamed disease. Maybe someday it will be discovered. Chances are his family may never know. We were lucky. A doctor was able to identify Jake’s immune disorder in 2012. It didn’t make any difference, in fact it just complicated his test results. They started the chemo not knowing for sure that he even had AML leukemia. It was an educated guess, and everyone hoped for the best. That is what we have now. We have experiences and educated guesses. There are drug trials and plenty of errors. There is still much more to be discovered. The process is slow and expensive. Maybe someday, Jake’s cause will be given a name. It won’t matter. Jake was able to have a cure. We were just extremely lucky.

Columbine

Molly was irritated when I posted that we were at a restaurant in Denver. “Mother, why do you post everything we’re doing? No one cares…” While she very well could be right, I didn’t care. If someone was irritated by my post, they could ignore, scroll past or unfollow me. Within minutes, I received a personal message from a gal that I had not seen since junior high. She only lived in Paris about 4 years, but I didn’t forget her, and I was glad she had sent me a friend request. She lives in Miami, but she saw my post and had a personal connection to the University of Denver.  Within the hour, I was talking to the Dean of Admissions. Molly had already been accepted, but now the Dean “would love to meet her.” “Her credentials are very impressive….” “If we need anything….”  You can bet that if she ends up in Denver, I will appreciate having Todd’s name in my contacts. I held my phone up to Molly and said, “THAT is why I posted that on FB, Molly. ” She had posted a picture and realized a friend from college was also in Denver. It makes the world seem smaller. There may come a situation when we need to reach out to a familiar face somewhere. I have been surprised by the friendliness of the people we met in Spokane and Denver. Sometimes with the bad things we see and hear about around us, it’s easy to forget that there are many kind, helpful people around us. Twice I asked strangers for help on this trip. Both times it saved us time and frustration. It was embarrassing for Molly, I’m sure, but I hope she saw the value of asking for help. She noticed one of the streets near the campus was named Columbine. She associated it with the school shooting. “Did you know that the Columbine is the state flower? You will likely see it a lot. It came way before the shootings.” It’s sad that she only associated the name with something horrific. My grandma always had Columbines in her garden. “They have to grow from the seeds. You can’t divide them,” she had told me once when I wanted some for my yard. She saved me the seeds, and I planted them in my yard. So just like my FB post, something good was shared…

Good sport

Last night, Grandpa and I went to Unity to watch Griffin play one of his last basketball games. He’s one of 2 seniors that stuck it out all four years. They started as freshmen with 15 players. He’s not the “star” of the team. There are a couple juniors and a sophomore who start, leaving Griffin to be the 6th man. He’s on the bench most of the game, but will go in for a few minutes to give the other guys a break. He’s the guy who claps and cheers and high-fives his teammates. He goes to practice, plays hard, and listens to the coach. At 5’9″, he accepted a long time ago that he wouldn’t be the star of his team. He didn’t want to quit, although it had to have been tempting. He’s put in a lot of hours, and I imagine he’ll be glad when the season ends. He has other things to focus on. He’s ready to go to college. He’s a finalist for the Presidential Scholarship. Griff did really well on his ACT, and is looking toward his future. My sister and I have fun at the games. I say things to keep it in perspective, but mostly just funny things because we know in a few months, high school basketball will be just a memory. For some, it will be the best it ever was. We sat behind the team last night, where I enjoyed watching the coach get out of sorts and throw his arms around and yell. Luckily he didn’t yell at Griffin. My sister does not appreciate the yelling. It’s easier when it’s not your own kid. It doesn’t take long to see the personalities of each player.  There is one player that stands out. I like watching him play. I watched him talking to Griffin on the bench. His dad played college ball. I can only imagine the pressure he’s been under his whole life to live up to that. He may get to play at the junior college level. There’s another hot shot on the team. He’s a gunner, and he takes the ball to the basket. Every. Time. The problem is that he doesn’t make it every time. Then he throws a fit when he’s benched. The coach got down in his face, put his hand gently on his face and coddled him. “I haven’t seen this attitude from you in a long time. Look at the score.” They were winning by at least 30 points. I looked at Jana, “Let the other kids play.” That’s not how it works, and I knew it. Sure enough, within 1 minute, the Attitude was back in the game. The coach called a time-out to yell at his starters. They were fighting with each other. They needed to pull it together. NOW!” I looked at Jana. “Put Griffy in. He has a good attitude…” Then the coach commenced to yell at the bench about how the starting 5 needed to pull it together. I’m sure a lot of people look back with fond memories of high school sports. Those screaming coaches had their utmost respect. Best years of their life. For some people, I’m afraid it is. It shouldn’t be. Griffin was the first to jump up and shake hands with the other team. The coach has told Griffin that he’s a leader on the team. I told Jana that maybe the coach will give him a leadership award. She kind of giggled, “yeah right.” As I watched the Attitude move Griffin over a seat so he’d be next to the coaches who immediately started patting him and coddling him, I leaned over to my sister. “You know, this shows and says a lot about what kind of a man Griffin will be. One of the other mothers has commented that Griffin might not start, but he’s in National Honor Society. Her son is a starting sophomore, and she knows how frustrated Jana must be. After the game, Griffin came up to thank us for coming to his game. It was our pleasure. He played hard when given a chance, and even though he wasn’t the star of the team, I got to see qualities far more valuable…

Remission

Jake’s graft vs. host disease appears to be in remission. They are reducing his prednisone from 24 mg to 16 mg for 4 days and then to 8 mg. Anyone who has been on a higher dose of prednisone for an extended amount of time, knows how thankful we all are. It’s a nasty drug, but it has also been life saving. Jake has certainly felt the effects. His face is so swollen and red. He had nerve pain in his lower legs this weekend. He was quick to get angry the other day. These are all things I blame on the drug. But we do what we have to do. They had to get the graft vs. host under control. Thank goodness they understand what to do. Molly’s cells were attacking his liver. This may not be the only time this happens, but for now, it seems to be ok. On a positive note, it means that Molly’s cells have taken over. The transplant has been a success. Jake’s chances of getting leukemia again are now cut in half. We won’t know the long term effects of the prednisone, chemo, or the other drugs he’s taken for the past 3 years. There’s a chance he could develop another type of cancer. Hopefully his new immune system will destroy the bad cells. There is a chance he’ll have to have a hip replaced because of the massive amounts of prednisone he was given. But for now, we’ll take that things are good. His classes have been challenging, but he’s hanging in there. He’s still working a few hours at Kroger, and he hangs out with friends when he can. He wants to move out, be a normal 20 year old. He’s handled things remarkably. He’s had a lot of bad stuff handed to him in a short period of time, but he’s so hopeful. He has seen his new immune system work for him. Ironically Molly is very sick right now. She has a fever, chills, sore throat. She regrets not getting the flu shot. I asked her and reminded her several times. I should have drug her in like I did Jake. I had the flu shot, but was sicker after Christmas than I had been in years. Dave was too. So far Jake has been spared. Hopefully he’ll get back to feeling good again quickly, and the prednisone’s effects will wear off as well. This summer he wants to go somewhere. Anywhere. We’ll plan to make that happen, and we’ll plan to help him get back to school full time. Maybe by his 21st birthday, he’ll be living the life he chooses…

School of Choice

There has been a lot of uproar since Trump named his Secretary of Education. It is scary. Change is always scary, but educators dedicated to their job, flow with the changes, or they get out. I believe her changes could lead to an even greater number of people not wanting to become educators. People are worried about school of choice. They aren’t worried they will lose their job, but they are concerned by some of the problems they know will incur. Here’s one small example. A person I know called me yesterday to tell me about her week. 2 families had left their school. It’s not a public school. It’s a school where some families value the Christian education their children will receive, but it’s also a school of choice. A school where some families go because they have had issues with the public school. The 2 junior high boys had been in trouble before this year for behavioral issues. Nothing too serious, but enough to go see the principal. The P.E. teacher became rightfully frustrated with them the other day. He made some comments that he should not have made including something to the effect, “I wish it were back in the days when the nuns could smack their hands with rulers…” Oh how some educators miss the days of the paddle. When I was in first grade, I was swatted by the water fountain for messing around. She had one of those paddles that had had a red ball attached by elastic, and she grabbed my arm and swatted me mid-step, shooing me scornfully back to class. It didn’t hurt; I’d been spanked before. I was embarrassed. I doubt I told my parents because I didn’t want it again at home. One time in the second grade, I screamed and yelled during P.E. that the teacher was a cheater. I wasn’t the only one yelling, but my voice resonated. When I got home, I was greeted with a note card and a pen. “You will write a letter of apology!” This time, in this school of choice, it was different. The principal was informed that the teacher had threatened their child, and their child was afraid to return to school. OK, first of all, bullshit. Secondly, the child liked nothing more than to antagonize the P.E. teacher. What are you going to do about this? I demand an apology from the teacher. You must insure my child is going to be safe… Before an investigation could even begin, the phone calls and emails from other concerned parents started rolling in. Before anything could be resolved, the parents allowed the kid to stay home (for his own safety). Then they announced they were going to re-visit the public school. (The school they had fled before. This was their second return to this particular school of choice.) They kept demanding the apology. What about an apology for their kid’s behavior?  My child would never do that! My baby feels threatened and now embarrassed!”  Again, the kid didn’t come to school. By the end of the day, 2 families (a total of 6 kids) had been withdrawn from their school of choice.  The younger siblings didn’t even know what hit them. Pulled away from the comfort of their class, friends, routines. Nothing has been gained. The child has learned nothing, and mommy and daddy will pull you out of any uncomfortable situation. There will continue to be situations, and it will never be their fault. They will never learn the tools or skills to deal with an uncomfortable situation. My former principal once said that the average student nowadays will switch careers an average of 7 times. Not jobs, but careers. Is this a reflection of, when things get tough, we just run away? So with school of choice, might education be disrupted constantly by families jumping from school to school? We’re too soft. Trust me, I want nothing more than to fix my kids’ problems, but they’ve had to figure some things out on their own and deal with it. Yesterday Ellie, our gentle Golden, got a hold of a paper towel. She was tearing it apart. The puppy tried to take it from her, and she snapped at her. I’d never heard Ellie get mad like that. It surprised me. I almost intervened, but I just watched. The puppy backed off. She quietly and submissively just watched Ellie tear apart her paper towel. Was the puppy’s feelings hurt? Probably. Was the puppy embarrassed? Maybe? Did the puppy feel threatened? Sure. Did she worry that her life was in danger? Not at all. She learned a lesson of life though. Later they were wrestling and playing tug-of-war with a sock. They were friends again and everything was right despite me not getting involved…