My children went to a private Christian School for a large part of their lives. Belle didn’t get to experience that and Kyler got just a few years. Kendall and Kade got the most.
Kendall was in the fifth grade when Kade started preschool. The school was in the same building as our church, which we had all spent our entire lives in. It was a large congregation and we were friends with most, familiar with the rest. This was a home for us. My parents and grandparents attended church there, as well as most of Bill’s family. My point is, this wasn’t a strange place or a ‘new’ place.
Kade was petrified. I would drag him to his classroom, screaming the whole way. Him, not me. (yet) Kennedy would be skipping along, happy as a lark and I had Kyler on one hip. We would be at the door to the classroom and I’d be juggling Kyler while trying to pry Kade’s fingers off of the door jam. He had a death grip on it and he’d be wailing like I was leaving him forever. The teacher would finally be free to help me and we would finally loosen Kade’s grip enough to yank him free and drag-walk him to his chair. Meanwhile, Kennedy would have taken his place at the U-shaped table and would be happily waiting on the morning snack to be handed out. We’d get Kade to his desk and then I’d then I’d have to drag Kennedy out of the room, screaming and crying to stay. This went on every day for two years of pre-school and kindergarten year. I cried a lot.
This mortified Kendall. He was quiet, reserved, disciplined and respectful. Kendall was a good student and very social. His screaming little brother was something that made him cringe.
When they were in first and seventh grade, they took their lunch every day. I packed awesome lunches 😂 One day Kade went to ‘check on his lunch’ , something he did a lot, and his lunch box was empty. Omg the hysteria that followed. 🙄🙄
Kade didn’t report this to his teacher. Oh, no. He snuck out of his classroom and went looking for Kendall. Kendall’s class was on the opposite end of the building and upstairs. Kade couldn’t find Kendall’s classroom so he just started screaming Kendall’s name. The teacher came out to see what all the commotion was about and Kade was in full-blown panic mode. He refused to go back to class and just clung on to Kendall. They escorted Kendall and squalling Kade to the office to call me. I went and picked the little one up, the big one wanted to go back to class. He was red-faced in anger and embarrassment. I was trying to comfort them both and sort of trying not to sit down and cry.
I went to church camp at Camp Indogan in Angola, Indiana. I went every year from about third grade to my sophomore year. Most years I went twice. I loved this.
When it came time for my kids to go, I was so excited. Kendall went first, then when the younger kids were going, he was in an older group. But the three middle kids all went together. Their friends were there. My cousin, Tana, who we have always been extremely close to, was one of the counselors. Kade lost his mind. The first year he went, he got the ‘Where’s my brother’ award. Kennedy and I have talked about this recently. She said she was embarrassed by him making such a fuss. He cried all the time and clung to both her and Kyler. They wanted to have fun, Kade was miserable the whole time.
And we made him go. I thought it would be good for him. I had no idea what was going on in his mind.
Kade struggled in school. He learned differently and none of us knew it. He was treated by his teachers in Indiana and by Bill and I like a little trouble maker. He stayed in trouble at school. We eventually placed the kids in public school. It declined rapidly for Kade. He started fighting. He was so angry. He was expelled his seventh grade year.
We made the decision to move to Arkansas. Academically, this was the best decision we made for Kade. He went to school in Tuckerman. Many of the teachers there had been Bill’s teachers when he was young. Kade was a SODEN. And that meant something in our community. He was suddenly proud. He still got into trouble for fighting, so we got him involved in MMA. He could punch anyone he wanted, as long as they agreed.
When Kade was grown, we talked about his issues from his childhood. His explanation for his actions, his reasons, took all the breath from me. We had no idea the damage we were causing.
His whole life was fear led. If he wasn’t with me by a certain time each night, he knew I’d die. If he didn’t turn the light on and off a certain number of times or touch the doorknob or wash his hands, or tap his head or close a door, all seven times, I might die. His fear was attached to me. And we were pushing him into the nightmare.
He explained that when I left him at school, he would think about me being in a car crash on the way home. When he went to church camp, it was a terrifying week of waiting on someone coming to him to tell him I was dead. That’s why he always wanted to be with Kyler or Kennedy, so he wouldn’t be alone when he found out his mom was dead. He hated staying at my Mother’s house, wouldn’t stay with friends. Even as a teen, eighth and ninth grade, he would start off staying the night with someone, but 90% of the time, he would call me and have me come and get him.
Of course we had no idea. He had great teachers who had no idea. We didn’t talk about mental illness in children. There was no Facebook or Instagram or any other kind of social media. The internet was expensive dial up and I certainly wouldn’t have known what to search for on the World Wide Web.
We just told him to straighten up, man up, shut up, do it, do it, do it. And when he failed, in his eyes at nearly everything, we asked him over and over again, “What is WRONG with you?!?!” I couldn’t understand why he could just get his shit together. Neither could he. And all he heard was “You’re failing”
By the time I understood, it appears it was too late. All roads point to my failure of Kade.
And I tried so hard to be a good mom. Kade thought I was the best mom. He told me all the time. Because what he remembered was the mom who played games and introduced old movies and made iced sugar cookies and bought him all the art supplies he wanted and sung him sweet songs real low, where he had to be so quiet and still to hear me.
I was a good mom. But it didn’t matter. Because I didn’t have the right information, the right tools, the right things to say. Until he was twenty. Then I never shut up. And we worked so hard and I prayed so hard.
I think when your mind tells you ugly things all the time, it’s too hard to decipher it all. Kade saw nothing good about himself and he couldn’t imagine how you could either. He was so full of shame, regret, remorse. He couldn’t function. He couldn’t catch up and grab on. He couldn’t figure life out because all his ears heard were lies in which he was a failure.
I have regrets. That’s normal when a family goes through this. But I know a purpose can rise from this. It would make Kade feel proud that his story might help someone. That’s what spurs me on. Good from bad. God help me.
Teach your children about the Holy Spirit, our helper. You won’t always be with your child, the Helper will. Teach them what an intimate relationship with God looks like. And if you don’t understand your child’s behavior, dollars to donuts, your child doesn’t either. That’s a red flag. Go get some help. If the first place you land on doesn’t work out, don’t quit. Dig.
I wish I would have.
Please continue to pray for our family. The loss keeps getting heavier for some of us. The weight is suffocating. We need your intercession.