This is the ninth post in a series about my son’s recent experience with bullying at school.
I am tired.
In the last month we have met three times with the school principal, twice with the head of school, four times with the school counselor, and once with an awesome group of parents. When not in meetings, we have had an hourly string of email conversations with anti-bullying trainers, teachers, and concerned parents at our school. Each meeting has to be carefully prepared for; each email painstakingly crafted. It takes time—time I used to dedicate to work, family, and watching old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Of course I want to make Sam’s school a safe place for him. Of course I want to build acceptance in the world for him and boys like him. But I did not anticipate how time consuming and emotionally draining this process would be.
I called my friend Meredith to whine about these things, because she’s always good about not pointing out that I’m whining. Meredith reminded me that I’ve always been committed to social justice work. Since high school, I’ve either worked for nonprofits or volunteered with organizations trying to make the world a better place. I never imagined that my social justice work—at various times focused on affordable housing, education, and the environment—would take this particular form. But Meredith said that we don’t always get to choose how our values are expressed. Working to better Sam’s school, she said, is perfectly in line with my values.
I know she’s right, but that doesn’t keep me from being pissed off. As Christopher, one of my readers, pointed out in a comment on the fifth post in this series, the work I am doing should be the school’s job, not mine. And yet here I am—today, for example—consolidating editorial comments from 16 parents on an email to school administrators. And I’m reminded in every line of text that this quest for justice isn’t abstract, that it is about my child.
I complained to my husband Ian about how drained I feel, how this work is eating up my work time. His reply? This is your work. There is no more important work.
But I’m still tired.