A letter to the school…
I was looking for a password for Payne among her school emails and I came across the following email I sent two school years ago on March 22, 2011. Things had gotten so out of control with Vale and the aftershock that the kids were really suffering being the collateral damage and it was greatly impacting their school work. I’m going to share the letter with you. I’ve removed names for anonymity’s sake. The three kids referred to in this letter go to a special school for academical advanced students. If they start sliding in school, the work overwhelms them quickly. I think by reading this letter I sent to the school, you can get a pretty clear picture of our daily level of stress in the home. It makes me pretty sad reading it and remembering.
Good Afternoon, This was an email I thought I could avoid but the situation is getting far too out of hand. I wrote to Mrs. F and Mrs. F a few weeks ago about the current crisis in our home, hoping we could circumvent real trouble, but the fall out was greater than I anticipated. My USP students are for the most part really suffering.
About 4-6 weeks ago we discovered that my son (who isn’t in this school) is engaging in self harming behaviors, developed an eating disorder and was brutalized by sexual abuse 5-6 years ago while in a former foster home. Needless to say we all are a wreck. Before that day, Feb 15th (the worst of anniversaries) we knew nothing of this at all. He had carried that secret in silence for years. There is a constant strain in the home due to my son’s suicidal ideologies, putting therapy in place, watching for his safety, dealing with the aftershock etc. I have no desire to cultivate sympathy for me, but I want you to know what your students are going through.
This is a picture of our last month:
- multiple trips to Hershey (that’s at least 5-7 hours)
- phone calls to try to get therapy and treatment into place
- placing locks on doors putting all cutting implements in locked boxes
- fielding phone calls from police due to mandated reporting
- going for forensic interviews
- therapy 3+ times a week
- 5 days of PSSAs, 3 of which I need to stay at for safety plan reasons
And none of that reflects the actual hands on work I need to do with my son. Honestly, this has had a devastating impact on me, and really, I’m trying to keep it together. The kids aren’t sleeping. The vigilance they feel they need to have, even though we try to reassure them that they don’t, is breaking them. They can’t talk about this outside of the home due to stigma and my son’s shame. And they can’t talk too much inside the home because my son cuts and starves himself because of his self loathing and shame and they are afraid to exacerbate him. Many days feel like we are walking on very thin ice. As much as I try to shield my children from the full impact, I am not sleeping, have headaches almost every day and struggle constantly: to get my son to eat, to gauge his mood (how dangerous it is), to keep him from purging, to watch where he is and what he’s doing all the time, to get him the help he needs (which surprisingly is very difficult). I can’t leave the house, take a nap or be away from my son, because I am his sole security and his anxiety ratchets up when I’m ‘gone’. I have become a terrible home facilitator.
I share this because my children’s academics are sliding. E is pretty good at compartmentalizing, she’s older and close to Vale so she understands more, so she’s doing “okay”. In S’s case, he’s sliding a lot. S is failing nearly everywhere. S sleeps in the same room as Vale (the one in crisis) and feels responsible for Vale’s safety. S can’t sleep because he’s worried he’ll wake up and find his brother dead. He worries that Vale will cut in the night. S is pretty innocent and doesn’t fully understand why Vale does what he does. S can’t seem to focus independently very well at all. Unlike E, S doesn’t have the good scholarly habits to carry him through, on the best of days S lacks the discipline to stay on task. He is so far behind that he sees no way out and is so discouraged. J is restless and distressed. She is coping by utilizing a lot of escapism into books, or role-playing etc. So her schooling isn’t that stellar either, but I don’t think she’s in as bad a shape as S.
Honestly, I’m at a loss as to what to do. I can not be home to handle what’s going on with their schooling, and S is so far behind I don’t know how he’ll catch up. I would hate for him (or the girls) to fail school or lose their spots in the University Scholars Program. E is making transcripts and I would hate to see her GPA lower because of this. Our family values education so much and work hard together to see that our children achieve the best that they’re able to. But to be frank, keeping the children together has really taken precedent. We value that the USP has an integrity that they have to uphold to keep their program where it is at, but I’m asking for your help. I believe they’ve all proven themselves capable of working at a USP level (even if S hasn’t demonstrated a true scholarly approach to his work ~ he had improved). Please help us. We will work weekends, longer days etc to get the kids back on track. But we need help. Would you please help us?