I sit here feeling a little sad at the end of a week that should have been filled with rainbows, butterflies and unicorns because it was Birthday Week. My birthday was Tuesday, Sugar’s was yesterday. A celebration in Sugar’s honor MUST last more than one day. There needs to be dinners with immediate family and one with grandparents, shopping trips to spend birthday money, cookies for school, cake for home. Everyone deserves to feel special on their birthday, so I indulge her. I draw the line at parades and hamsters.
A boy that went to Sugar’s school killed himself this week. He was young, only in 7th grade. Rumors say he ran away from home and shot himself because his girlfriend broke up with him. He did not die immediately and his family was able to donate his organs. This beautiful young boy will live on in the lives of seven people who were recipients of his life-saving gifts. If there was ever a ray of sunshine in a devastating situation, this would be it. The family has responded to friends asking “How can I help” with a request that everyone donate blood and sign up to be organ donors. Truly amazing requests.
This suicide brought back memories of my own 5th grade year. A girl in my class took a bunch of Tylenol in an attempt to take her own life. Fortunately, she survived. I’m not sure to this day why she attempted to take her own life. I imagine it had something to do with the fact that she was probably teased for being the first girl to develop. She was an 11 year old stuck in the body of a gorgeous 16 year old. I remember that she had boobs and curves where we all remained flat chested and stick straight. I remember that she was one of the lucky girls with clear skin, light blue eyes and jet black hair. As I moved from that area a few years later, I only guess that she grew up to be a beautiful woman. I do hope the sadness and pain she felt in elementary school no longer plagues her.
Until Wednesday, I was completely unaware of a similar happening in my little town. I became aware of the situation when Skinny Bitch texted me to ask if I had received an email alert from the school. She saw some chatter about it on Facebook and was unable to check her email at the moment. When I checked, I found an ambiguous letter that talked about a 7th grader being in critical condition in a hospital about an hour away. They went on to say that crisis counselors, guidance counselors and staff would be on hand to talk with the students.
Once again, parents are left in the dark. A letter from the superintendent and principal can only mean that we should have serious discussions with our children. But what topic exactly are we to discuss? A fellow student is in critical condition as a result of…??? Do we discuss the dangers of drugs? Do we discuss the dangers of wearing helmets while skateboarding and bicycling?
So we’re left to put our ears to the Mommy Mafia Underground. Some quick digging got me answers, but now I’m faced with having a discussion with my daughter based on rumor and innuendo. There was nothing in the media, there were no facts. I am unable to lead a discussion about what I know to be true.
I let Sugar guide the conversation. I asked her if anything had happened at school and she said no. I could have lectured her about the dangers of drugs, strangers and making smart choices, but I like to have a general idea of what the lesson should be.
I’m not suggesting that the school should have sent a detailed note about this student and what had occurred. I’m simply asking that they offer better information so parents know what is going on. They easily could have added a few words like, “A 7th grade student is in critical condition after attempting to take his own life.” Or, they could have said that counselors were on hand to discuss suicide prevention.
On Thursday, the middle schoolers went to school and each class was visited by the counselors… who led discussions about suicide. I appreciate that the well-being of every student is a concern to the district and the administration. I appreciate that they “mobilized a team of professionals.” However, I do not appreciate that parents weren’t notified of these impending discussions before sending our kids off to school Thursday morning.
The principal and superintendent did in fact send another letter home Thursday to inform parents that discussions had occurred within classrooms throughout the day. I’m dumbfounded that they couldn’t be bothered to inform parents of this so that we could prep our kids before their school day began on Thursday.
I realize that many parents today put the burden on the schools and would like them to handle the “tough stuff.” As my girl is very sensitive, I’d prefer to give a heads up so she’s not taken aback when news such as this is thrown at her. Before this week, I’m pretty certain that she had no idea what the word suicide even meant.
But that’s all beside the point… the point really is that devastating losses like this occur far too often. We can’t blame society or bullying or even weapons. I think it’s more important to remember how hard it is to be a teenager and how much it fucking sucked when you developed before your friends… or when you had painful acne that blew up all over your face… or when just being in your own skin made you want to curl up in a ball and cry. The raging hormones and self-doubt were crippling. It takes my breath away when I recall certain instances in middle school.
The only thing I can think of to keep my girls safe is to keep them close and to surround them with a village of people that they can trust and rely on. I understand that it’s often hard to talk to your parents when you are going through these things. I strive to keep my girls involved in activities and have them around their extended families and my friends. I want them to see that there are people that love them and think they are special and beautiful and important, even when they think they are small and insignificant. I want them to feel comfortable around adults whose friendships I cherish just so they know that someday, if they need a grown up to talk to and Mama just isn’t the right one, they have choices.
I go a step further and try to earn the trust of Sugar and Spice’s friends. I try to remember to ask them about things that are important to them. I try to compliment them to help build self-confidence. If there is one message I could pass on to every kid I know, every single day, it would be a line from The Help by Kathryn Stockett, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
There is no one to blame when a suicide occurs. I only wish that the victim could be given the gift of seeing into the future and how much their action will affect their love ones. Not in the sense of “look how much you hurt your family,” but in the sense of, “look at the outpouring of love and kindness there is for you.”
May you rest in peace, BP.