After completing work, I headed to pick up my son. I was interested to hear more details about Field Day and was relieved that he handled it better than expected. I could hear the kids out on the field as I got closer. I tried to identify my TBP amongst the participants. I actually thought I might find him near the cooler or in the shade; however, no such luck.
I entered the office and was met by the principal. He said that he just saw my son and that he would walk out with me. It took a few moments, but we found my TBP and he came running over to me. At first, he smiled and then as he got closer…I realized that he had been crying. His smile turned sad and he hugged me as if he hadn’t seen me for days. “Where were you??” “I just got here and came straight to find you.” He stared at me and said, “You didn’t come to the BBQ! I was the only one that didn’t have a parent and I was so scared and embarrassed!I didn’t eat my lunch at all and I just wanted to cry.”
“My son…I had no idea that the BBQ meant that much to you.” I turned to look at the principal who was still standing there and I felt judged. “I am very sorry, but I had to work and I truly didn’t think about it.” We started to walk away and he repeated what he had previously said. This time, he added that everyone watched him as he sat by himself.
Insert knife into heart.
We walked into the school to get his backpack and as we walked through the gym, we met his teacher. She stopped us to say good-bye. As my son walked ahead, she turned to me and said…”I know how busy it is this time of year, but he was very upset that you weren’t there. Perhaps next year, you could plan to attend.”
I felt myself stumble over my words…Oh my god!! I was THAT parent! I was the parent that didn’t come and the staff was thinking…”of all the kids NOT to have a parent, who would have expected him?! I felt the judging and the worse part was…I recognized the judgment because I have dished it out myself! I actually could envision the teacher talking with her husband tonight saying,”do you know which kid was the only one that didn’t have his mother…you guessed it!”
I could say that I didn’t know about the BBQ, which by the way…my son says each letter separately and doesn’t say barbecue, but that would be a lie. I honestly didn’t expect that every kid but mine would be represented. Also, this was the third year for this tradition and my son never mentioned it before.
We all make mistakes and if I was reading this post and someone else wrote it, I would say…he will get over it. I know that you are right. He will and actually…he did before it was dinner. The sad thing is that I still feel terrible. I wish that I could rewind the day and get a “do-over” and this time I would go to the stinking B-B-Q!
When I told my mother about this, she reminded me that it shows he now cares about things that in the past, he didn’t think about. He cares about the social aspects of school. I suppose she is right and that this is another way that we are seeing progress. Today, little misery loves company so…tell me a mistake…just one! It will help this guilt-filled mama!