Friday, February 13, 2015

Update on the siblings question. And on being overly sensitive.

So, a while ago, I posted about how Ben's school had chosen him as "Student of the Month" and given me a sheet to answer questions about him.  You know, the usual things, like hobbies (I wrote "chasing garbage trucks, playing with my cousins AJ and Lane, swimming, vacuuming, and being outside"), favorite foods ("hot dogs, raisins, eggs, and any kind of dip"), and siblings.  Ah, siblings.

I chewed (and cried) over this for a while, and finally wrote, "Ben's sister Lydia was stillborn in November 2014.  We love and miss her very much."

And I turned the pictures and the form in.  Three weeks ago.

Every day since then, I look, with anxiety, to see if it's on the wall.

Yesterday, it finally was.

Now, I have a few things to point out here.  One is that we pay A LOT of money each week to send my son to this school.  Another is that I turned this crap in three weeks ago.  Another is that every other Student of the Month board is beautifully done, with the photos matted and cute writing and shapes.  And my son's is done with post-it notes.  (I have become friends with one other mom at Ben's school -- we connected because she lost her twin sons a few years ago.  Ironically, I told her just last weekend that I thought Ben's teacher was lazy.  Case in point.)

Just for comparison value, here's another Student of the Month collage:

But I'm mostly bothered by this:

The language here.  Obviously, the incorrect grammar is a glaring issue to this previous English teacher.  But the biggest problem? Stating that Ben's sister's name WAS Lydia.  Past tense.

Lydia is still her name.  She is still Ben's sister.

Oh, and I intentionally included a picture of Oma Jo and Pop-Pop with ALL their grandchildren at Christmas time.  To represent Lydie in the photo, my mom held Lydie's framed hand and footprints.  This photo was not on the goddamn wall.

Am I being overly sensitive here?

But it has been haunting me.
I laid in bed the other night at 3 am, getting increasingly more pissed off about this situation.
I tried to tell myself, after all we've been through, this is NOT something worth my energy.
I asked myself why it is bothering me so much.

So here's my answer, and as always, it's complex:

Sure, I am annoyed by the sheer and obvious laziness of Ben's teacher.  But in a regular situation, would that really bother me that much?
Probably not.  I'd probably joke with my husband about it.

In part, I think it's because I wrestled so much with how to include Lydie, in a tactful and respectful manner, but in a way that also represents that she IS Ben's sister and she IS a part of our family.  I finally settled on a way that I felt good about.  That I felt like acknowledged Lydie without being too in-your-face.

And then his teacher shit all over that. 

In part, I think it's because his teachers never acknowledge our pain or our grief.  They never ask how we're doing.  And in those early days, when I'd drop Ben off in my sweatpants and go back home to cry, they'd shout, "Have a WONDERFUL day!" as I was walking out the door.  I thought this would be a way to remind them, hey, we're still not okay.  Remember the dead baby?

In part, I think it's because all these mothers carrying their infant carriers in one hand and holding their toddler's hand with the other tear me up inside, and they don't even know it.  And don't get me started about my avoidance of the pregnant moms.  They probably think I'm a bitch for looking at the ground or the wall as they walk by instead of making eye contact.  And I want them to know about Lydie too.

So I've done a bit more chewing (and crying) over this.  And this morning, when I dropped off Ben, I asked to speak with his teacher.  I didn't mention the shitty quality of the collage.  I merely started with saying that I recognize that I am being overly sensitive, but it's because Ben's sister died just three months ago and it is still very raw.  But that I would really like the photo with her hand and footprints included because it is very important to us.  And that I would really like her to change some wording on the note about his sister, again, because it's very important to us.  And I handed her my own post-it with what I would like it to say.

The lazy teacher just said, "okay....." but another teacher jumped in, apologized profusely, and said they'd get that fixed right away.

Let's just see how things look at pick-up today. 


  1. SO freaking proud of you for speaking up!!!! I'm glad you spoke up for her instead of letting it eat you alive from the inside out as I have let things do to me in the past. That's upsetting that the teacher is a lazy-ass and not sensitive to your loss. Sloane started preschool two weeks after Hayes died. (Her orientation was the morning of his funeral. What a day that was!) Her teachers were so kind. I would come in w sunglasses on bc I had been crying all day. They wrote me cards. It was wonderful. I'm sorry you don't have that support. :( But so so so proud of you!!!!!!!!!

  2. Wow. You have every right to be upset by that. Every right. I am so sorry you had to even talk to the teacher about it. But you handled it a million times better than that teacher did. Just shows your incredible strength.

  3. GOOD FOR YOU!!!

    I'm astounded by her laziness and that horrid grammar. That tense issue makes me all kinds of angry.

    But really, all that you provided should have been included. She saw it all and deliberately chose to leave those off the wall? Absolutely not. I'd lose my shit.

  4. Dude, I am so proud of you for speaking up. That takes so much courage.

    That whole thing SCREAMS lazy-ass to me, too. I can't believe how little support they seem to have offered you (and probably Ben too--What if he'd been older and understood more of what happened to Lydie? I don't want to think about that...)

    Have they fixed it yet? I fucking hope so. Ugh.

  5. Update: Lydie's hands are on the wall, and her little note is rewritten with correct grammar and present tense.

    Ben's sister is Lydie.

  6. The little things are big. They matter! I'm so glad you spoke up and they changed Ben's board.

  7. Yes. yes. yes. Of course this matters.

    As a teacher, it irritates me that his teacher is so lazy. As a mother of a son who died far too soon, it makes me proud to see other bereaved mothers also standing up for their families, giving voice to others who may not be able to speak up. I refuse to be shamed into dishonouring my son because of someone else's discomfort.

    Thank you.
    xo Robyn


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