Ok Parents Especially…School Talk and What It Means To Create A Healthy Environment
August 20, 2020
School Talk and Big Parent Tips That You Might Need To Hear Today
Back at home in Georgia, school has begun and it is a mess. A few schools that are private have let children come back in person while public schools are finally starting to air on the side of caution and school is virtual for the unforeseeable future. Colleges have brought the kids in only to roll back on their initial plans after so many tested positive for Covid. In Malta, school does not begin until September 29th. This is a good thing because even though we registered for five separate schools at the beginning of May (that were introduced to us by the helper to the prime minister, no less) no one has let us in still. And to make matters more stressful, they close “for holiday” all of August. No one is available or willing to speak with me until September.
I did not stress over the schools because I took every item in increments with what I could control and what I could not. Also, because my priorities were the children and the pets and the passports and even getting all the necessary steps in place to be able to leave the United States and cross borders that do not want Americans to cross.
Now that we are here, and the pets are here and everyone is safely in our new home, it became ‘go time’ for me with the schools. No such luck. It turns out that our landlord has a child in one of our top choices that we were already on the waitlist for. She has been helpful in contacting them on our behalf. Still…no word. The public or government schools speak in Maltese. The private and church schools are taught in English with Maltese as a separate academic subject. This is where things get very personally stressful for me and I am about to get very open and honest.
When we lived at my mothers, the elementary school there was stellar. We had not a single issue there. When we moved across the city to even further south, the public school was a terrible experience for us. The children were not nice and the teachers did not care. The school was a title X school meaning that the majority of children fall beneath the poverty line. The school we came from was a top 10 school and did not fall into such category. I know what you are thinking, this sounds really snobby and I would agree had I not seen such a huge difference in the level of behavior between the two places. It was like night and day.
But this is not the issue exactly. The issue was that I have a child with literally miracle recovery and does not meet any criteria anymore for an autism spectrum diagnosis. We as a family, we did that! It is our miracle and I do not take that for granted. It was the life lottery win and I celebrate it every single day. BUT… I had no idea how quickly that could be snatched away from us when you put the child into an unsteady and negative environment. We saw regression that was a three year time warp. At age 7 just this past year in that horrible school, she reverted back to her four year old self. She began wearing her hair exactly how she did back when we went to a private autism therapy school. She began having literally the same arguments and the same meltdowns that she used to have three years prior that we had not seen barely any trace of in the years between. All of a sudden, she hated school and we are talking about an academically gifted child who before that experience, LOVED all things school. She would get off the bus and I could not even get her to come inside. She would sit on the ground and scream and cry. She cried herself to sleep every night and woke from sleep crying every morning until I pulled her out and we began the home school process. Just a few weeks later we found our homeschool hybrid Catholic school. They saved us. They saved her. Everything about it was our saving grace.
Between putting her into a healthy, supportive and loving environment and taking the necessary health measures of doubling up on our craniosacral therapy and NAET therapy, we were able to RE-recover her fairly quickly. I learned a huge lesson last year in understanding that recovery does not mean you are home free. It means that regression is always looming and if you screw it up it can come back to get you. Brain chemistry is tricky and staying ahead is what I had focused on. I had not realized though that in putting her into an unhealthy environment, ‘staying ahead’ no longer existed just because I was continuing with the hands-on therapies. I learned that the environment that a sensitive child is in will determine their level of success. (Repeat that last statement again for emphasis: environment for a sensitive child will determine their level of success). I learned that I had to be extra vigilant and not let my guard down and get overly comfortable in our miracle. That the miracle we had was and remains an extremely fragile gift and we have to earn our right to keep it. That was my hard earned lesson and I cannot let that out of my sight.
What this also means is that I lost my faith in the public system and found a totally new admiration in a church-based school where children are held to a higher accountability in their behaviors and actions. Being around such open and kind children gave me my child back. Moving to a country where all the schools teach religion, there is a foundation there that I can appreciate more than ever before. But, putting my kids into a government school where people that I have talked to have warned me about, and the language barrier that will make it nearly impossible for my children to take an approach of feeling any sort of relaxed, moves those options far down on my list.
Malta as a country does not participate in home school as an option. I will do it though as a citizen of the US if that is the only option that remains. There is nothing more important to me than the wellbeing both physically and emotionally of my children and I will do everything in my power to preserve both. On the other hand, a European education is paramount and I want my children to get to experience it. They have music, and art and drama and home economics and foreign language and subjects that are not related to anything common core. They build a whole child and still believe in the value of education as a full person and not just a person who can take copious tests. I want this for my children, but it must come hand in hand with a place that offers a safe, warm, supportive, nourishing and nurturing environment.
Hannah, with her recovery, was held back and did what was called the young 5’s class between pre-k and Kindergarten. She is a summer birthday and I was given the choice and I took it. I have done everything I can to set her up for social success by having that extra year in there. In Malta, they do not do that and have schools’ grades according to birth year. So, not only do I feel the pressure to get her into a really good school, but we also have to skip a whole grade. Luckily, the kid is so smart and works incredibly hard. I credit those years of intensive daily therapy with helping her develop a work ethic like no other. She will rise to the challenge academically no doubt. It is still stressful though. They use the metric system here, they use Celsius for temperature, they use Euros for money. The children readily have studied a second language since beginning school if not sooner because almost every family is at least bilingual.
I may not be a perfect parent, because perfect does not exist. But I am a damn good parent. Being their mother and their advocate is my super power. It is the place in my life that I feel the most honored and worthy of the gift that God has bestowed upon me. It is at that point in my own life, becoming a mother, that I came fully alive. I became ME. The ME I was always meant to become. It is in this process that I fully stepped into myself and owned my sacred power. I relish being a mother to these little girls more than any words can describe. My children are my priority and I will be sensitive to their needs, as well as fierce in protecting those needs in body, mind, with their emotions and their overall wellbeing. I will strive always to make sure that I set and hold a healthy environment where they can truly dive into their life with passion and purpose. And I will not hesitate to change it up if I need to in order to protect my child’s precious recovery. That is paramount in every move we make.
So, if you needed something like this today here are some things I offer to you:
Trust yourself and your ability to do right by your children. You really are their very best and strongest advocate and you’ve got this!
Listen ALWAYS to your Mama soul and trust it. (Thank you, Ms. Ali forever, I use that all the time. There is no better way to say it).
Do what you can, where you can, the best way that you can to preserve both their innocence and their inner animal. Do not take away that beast that lives inside them. They will need it as they grow.
Let them feel all of their feelings and do not taper them as they are expressing those feelings or I promise you, you will change the path of them expressing them with you.
Watch your children with different eyes and tune into them with all your senses. Become sensitive, open and take all their signals in and sit with it before you go busting in on questions and demands. Sit with it all. Take it all in. Be aware and be wise. Be their center when they can’t find their own.
Get to know your children for exactly who they are and not who you wish they were. Work from that space, because that is the reality you have. BUT you can change the reality in significant ways with safe guarding their environments.
When I refer to environment, I mean all of it. Their physical environment, their emotional and mental as well as their chemical environment; the microbiome if you will. It seems to me that only the mamas who have had to crawl into the fires of autism, sensory processing, auto immune disorders and the like, that they learn about the microbiome and just how important the chemical balance is all the way up to the tippy top of that brain all the way down to the tippy toes and all things digestion and bowel related in between. When I refer to environment…hear me on this. It is all encompassing. If you question and wonder, there are tests for DNA, for hair, for stools, for blood, for urine and for Saliva that can test it all. What you might think is a moody child, or a picky eater, or a super sensitive one, might actually be an imbalance within the system. Find out if they have genetic mutations such as the MTHFR (commonly referred to as the mother fuck$er gene because it’s easy to remember and because that is pretty much what can be).
My youngest has one MTHFR gene mutation. Our genetic pediatrician (because we have a regular pediatrician, a developmental pediatrician and a genetic pediatrician from the past when we needed them) told me to be on the watch for my youngest as she hits teen years for anxiety or depression because of that genetic link. She said that first try a supplement called Sam-E, thankfully I was already familiar with that particular product, it is a vitamin B supplement available everywhere. She told me that if that is not enough to consider changing her diet to “nothing with a mother, nothing with a face.”
This is insight that I will keep in my back pocket for years down the road, but I will never forget it or let it out of my periphery. These are the kinds of things I’m talking about. They matter. Everything around us, what we listen to, what we eat, what we drink, what we think, what we hear, what we see…that is the environment that I’m talking about. You set the tone, but you are not the only tone. Where they spend their days, who they are around, that sets the tone just as much as what you do at home. And you cannot control anything outside your home, but you can control you.
Message me if you want more info or better yet, shameless plug, get my latest book Whole Body Healing: Create Your Own Path to Physical, Emotional, Energetic and Spiritual Wellness which lays out basically every healing modality I have ever found under all neighborhoods- physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual. It all matters. That energy body? That matters more than I can possibly express right now, but trust me that the subtle body has got to find a balance in order for the other parts to play well. I will repeat that last statement IT ALL MATTERS.
Nothing is random, not with your body and not with your children. And this is why I stress over what school options we will have, because right now I have no answers. I have no control over that and that is terrifying. And it’s so easy to tell me to trust it. I do know that I will make it work because time has shown me that I will. But I cannot rest on those laurels. And it’s currently a really hard place to be. And now hopefully you can understand better why it is such a source of stress. It goes so far beyond just finding a school that will take us.
Ok enough about that stuff. I hope it helped any of you reading it for whatever might be happening right now in your own life. If not, thank you for reading it and humoring me with my soap box on environment.
ONWARD TO THE PRESENT TENSE
Tomorrow we take our covid test and then we have completed our mandatory quarantine time. I will take videos and post them of stepping foot out of our gates. We finally get to begin our sight-seeing. I can’t wait to see what the weekend brings!