It’s true, of course. We all do.
I’m sure that even the secretary for the assistant school district superintendent has one. Despite the school district’s open enrollment policy, my request for in district transfer to keep Adia in the school that she has been attending for the past three years was denied. After our move, while we’re still in the same school district, we are just a little bit outside the boundary line for that school which, without in district transfer approval of the district administration, would send her off to a new school in a few weeks. The secretary returned my call requesting an appointment to come in and talk to someone about this decision. When I reiterated that there were some extenuating circumstances in this case that I wanted to talk to the assistant superintendant about, she said, without breaking her verbal stride, “Everyone has a story…”
And maybe the secretary’s story goes something like this: I just returned from vacation and my desk is piled with complaints and requests from disgruntled parents who don’t want their baby to have to adjust to a change of school despite the two years’ warning that have preceded this year’s redistricting. And maybe her story also includes just how much she wants to impress her new boss when he starts at the end of the week by clearing as many of these disgruntled families from the slate before he even sees the stack. Maybe, she thinks, if I just reiterate that denials of in district transfers are strictly numbers based decisions and that the requested school just does not have an open space these parents won’t take it personally and will just move along with the flow like leaves in a log jam suddenly freed and carried downstream with the current. Maybe. Everyone has a story.
I, too, have one. My story. My family’s, my children’s, my daughter’s. Ours is a year of upheaval and chaos ending tragically in crisis. My husband – who was in the process of trying to divorce me and take custody of my children from me – was killed in a car accident rendering me an unexpectedly single parent, my children suddenly fatherless.
My oldest was already reeling from the rift in her forever family and the premature introduction of the new love of daddy’s life. She was angry – at me, at him, at them – and with her various internal processing twists and turns only able to act it out in misbehavior and lengthy, loud, physical fits. Left with only her mother, she took the full force of her emotional upheaval out on me.
I was an ill equipped single parent at best. Coming straight off a war where I’d been fighting for my life and livelihood, I was dropped into a maze of a different, yet equally disorienting and confusing, variety. In the midst of legal meetings and financial consultations, living in a new-to-us condo and still not unpacked from a hurried move, I had both hands full with children who didn’t completely understand why their daddy wasn’t coming home. They didn’t want him to visit them from the spirit world. They wanted to spend the weekend at daddy’s house as planned.
My oldest didn’t want to tell her second grade classmates what had happened. She holds all her feelings deep within her and she keeps her true thoughts hidden away from her mother, maybe even from herself. She has been tested and shown to have slow processing ability. It’s just the way she’s wired. She relates to the world in her own atypical way – there isn’t a readily available name for it, no convenient label that then translates into a predictable series of defined treatment steps and medication doses which will render her an average child. So, I was surprised when her former first grade teacher told me that when she expressed her condolences, Adia put her cheek ever so gently against the teacher’s cheek and allowed herself to be hugged. The tiniest gesture, the hugest statement: “I am comfortable here. This is safe.”
Safe enough, even, to go kicking and screaming in her pajamas because she flat out refused to get dressed and ride cooperatively to school. Safe enough to jump with joy when the morning vitamin is “a lion, mom, for Lion Pride!” Safe enough to allow the pride she feels to be expressed aloud when she shows her grandparents and her aunt, in fact anyone who will sit down a moment and listen, the photobook of field trips and special events from her second grade year.
I guess it goes without saying , then, that changing her school – the only thing in her life that has not changed in the past year – would be a really bad idea.
So, that’s “my story” or part of it anyway. Everyone has one, yes. Every story reflects a life, reflects the personal and sometimes extremely painful experiences of a specific spirit, one individual for whom that “story” is more than just a story.