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The Day My Kids Turned to Heroin

I’m not much of a drinker, but tonight is an exception.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. In celebration and terror, I’m relaxing the rules. It’s a no-holds-barred alcohol fest, a night to imbibe with freedom. Which means have I managed to drink all of my bottle of hard cider.

I was doing well.

Every year, we’ve had a far better First Day of School than the FDoS before.

What could possibly go wrong?

Our first year, the kids hadn’t been with us for 24 hours, but social services demanded that we register them for school immediately. They cried and clung to us, strangers though we were. The first day foreshadowed times to come.

That year, the bus driver suspended our boy multiple times and I was in the principal’s office at least three times a week.

He punched a girl in the face for laughing at him. Flat out decked her. Never mind that she was twice his size, the class bully and both the teacher and her father said she deserved it. (And no, we’ve never shared that with him.)

The social worker refused to believe that he needed a behavioral aide, so most of the time I spent at least half a day in his classroom, coercing him to join whatever the kindergarten group was doing. Or to refrain from punching anyone.

Our girl hid under her desk or in a corner of the playground at least once a week, scrubbing her hands through her hair until she looked like the kid from The Grudge. If anyone approached to ask why, she said, “I’m being adopted.”

The school counselor called, asking if maybe I could help the child with her hair instead of allowing her to simply roll out of bed.

I explained that the girl left our house every morning with hair in two braids adorned with cute bows. Somewhere between our house and school, the braids came out. By the time she arrived home, her brown tresses were whipped into a bird’s nest frenzy. That weekend was the end of my patience. We got her a haircut. She still rocks a pixie.

Year two was still pretty rough, with an average of two principal visits per week. Year three, we received permission for the kids to attend a different school (closer to our home). The Special Education team is PHENOMENAL.

I made sure the kids each had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in place before the end of their first year with us. Getting help at the old school was difficult. The idiom “it was like pulling teeth” comes to mind. I wanted to pull THEIR teeth. And hair.

At the new school, everyone involved with our kids is committed to their future and to their learning. It’s almost unbelievable after what we went through at the other school. The assistant principal is adopted. Although he never went through the tough things our kids experienced, he used his background to connect with the kids in a way no other school official had.

Year three, we maintained one principal visit per week. Year four, I saw the assistant principal while volunteering. “Hey, I miss talking to you. But I’m glad I never see you,” he grinned. We didn’t have one principal visit all year. ALL YEAR.

So, for the most part, I’ve been looking forward to this year. The kids seem less tense and actually look forward to going back to school.

I even got all the school shopping finished in one day (granted, I had to drag the kids to three different stores to find the supplies on the list the school provided). But…I did it! I joined the throngs of other moms-with-lists, fought through crowds, persevered and won.

Tonight (yes, I should have done it earlier, but I like to procrastinate), I labeled all the items with their initials, packed their book bags and stood back to admire my handiwork. I checked the list twice more, to be sure. Yes, I got every single item on the third grade list. Didn’t forget a thing.

Except. The third grade list.

My kids are going into the FOURTH grade.

I stood, frozen, staring at the list of school supplies. It had to be a mistake. Had to.


The list of supplies needed are different for each grade. I’d purchased the wrong items.

I mouthed “I give up” (the kids were already in bed, so howling would have been a problem) and stalked outside. I also thought some bad words, but didn’t say them. I try to save expletives for true emergencies.

I found Hubby in his garage, sanding the hood of a vehicle.

“Well, at least you figured it out before they went to school. I’m sure the teacher will embarrass them.  And hey, we’ll probably be able to track their late-teen drug problem back to this day. We’ll call it, The Day Our Kids Turned to Heroin.”

He was joking, of course. Just a little reminder that the big picture still looks okay.

So, just in case you feel like all the other parents have their lives completely together, know you’re not alone. (Most of them probably just think you are a super-parent and are afraid to be honest about their flaws.)

And tomorrow, I’ll be back-to back-to-school shopping. On the bright side, since school has already started, maybe there will be a sale on wide-rule paper.

(Update: Next year, I should buy all the supplies the day AFTER school starts. Everything was half price!)

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