Reminding myself, it’s okay to ask for help.

The other day, I was about to drop my son off in the parent drop-off line.  You know the drill.  You’re sitting in the line.  Making sure to follow all the rules.  All the other moms and dads, creeping along in their cars – stop, go, stop, go.  Watching for kids, waving to teachers, chatting about the day ahead.  I’m half asleep as Thomas and I are talking about whether or not he has PE today.  PE is our biggest concern, I think.  Does he have his sneakers on?  Did I remember to wash his gym clothes and put them back in his backpack?  Then he casually mentions, “Oh, today is an A day. That means I eat by myself at lunch.”  I snap out of my parent-drop-off coma for a second and I’m like “What did you say? What do you mean you eat by yourself at lunch?!”  He is shocked at my concern.  “It’s not that big of a deal mom. I just don’t have any friends to sit with on A days so I sit by myself.  Jeremy and I only have lunch together on B days.”  Meanwhile the car line is creeping closer and closer to the front of the school.  I’m trying to get as much information as I can out of him before he gets out of the car and he’s getting totally frustrated with all the questions and says, “I knew I shouldn’t have told you.”  Meaning, he knew I would worry and make a big deal out of it.  Which I am.  Which I will.  Which he was right.  My middle son is in the backseat, also concerned, shouts out, “Of course she’s going to make a big deal out of it Thomas, you just told her you eat lunch by yourself!”  By this time my car is at the spot where the door opens up.  We all pause for a moment and the boys stare at me for a second.  They have to get out or the moms behind us will surely start to honk.  I tell them I love them and to have a good day.  My eyes well up.  My heart breaks as I watch them walk into the school.

I get home and I’m beside myself with sadness and I don’t know who to call or what to do.  So I turn to Facebook and just put it out there.  I post it on my wall “Thomas in the car this morning just as the door is about to open to get out at the parent drop-off. “Oh, it’s an A day. That means I eat by myself at lunch.” My heart is broken.”  It’s a cry for help, I guess.  I need advice.

And the advice started flooding in.  Call the Guidance Counselor.  Call the Dean.  Call his Case Manager.  Create a Buddy Bench.  And then came the private messages.  When does Thomas eat lunch?  I will have my son eat with him today.  My wife works there.  She’s going to check on him.  The response was overwhelming.  I was so touched.

I ended up talking to the Dean, the Guidance Counselor, and his Case Manager.  We worked out a plan for Thomas. I also talked more to Thomas when he got home.  It wasn’t that he was actually eating alone, he just felt alone.  He was sitting at a table with kids but none of them were his friends so no one was interested in talking with him.  So he felt very alone.  I talked with the Guidance Counselor about this.  She and I are working on that and how to improve maybe his friend base.

But the point was, I forgot that sometimes you just need to ask for help.  Social media can be an ugly place.  But sometimes it can do such good.  It really made me feel less alone.  And helped me construct a plan for Thomas, to ensure he was not alone.  And to ensure people would look out for him when I couldn’t be there.  What a great reminder to us all to use the power of the community when we need it.  I’m so grateful for it.  And grateful for my friends.

I will keep you posted on our plan for Thomas too!