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May 24, 2020

Buckle up, friends. I had discontinued my telling of the Rise and Fall of Luke Inwood because we were handling all that Covid stuff. Spirits were low and I didn’t want to add to it, but… here we are. It’s time.

Speaking of time, I have had a number of parents tell me one of the things they are relishing during this period of Learning at Home is not having to fight every morning with their kiddos about getting up and getting out the door to go to school. Is this maybe one of the biggest battles we face with some of our children? Preach, sister! lol

I feel like you are either a morning person or a night owl from birth, and for kids who are night owls that daily struggle to wake up and get on a bus for school is excruciating. EXCRUTIATING, I say! I have detailed to eternity my daily routine of shaking Luke’s leg and my whole schtick I would go through to eventually get him on the bus. UGH. In those last years, either I was driving him to high school or he was driving himself, but despite our best efforts and intentions… he was ALWAYS late. Curse you, Dunks! Lol.

Now truth be told he usually wasn’t late by much. I don’t do tardy, so when I was his driver he usually slid into the lobby of Wachusett just on the bell or barely after. Minutes. When he was driving himself his number of minutes increased to ten. Consistently. It was like he was just a beat behind. If School started at 7:20, that boy would roll up at 7:30. Every day. But you know what, friends. He was THERE.

Unfortunately, there is no gray and no exceptions to the “You must show up at school on time” rule. If I remember correctly, and I may not, every three times Luke was late, he got a detention. And he was always late. Now let’s just think about this. How many detentions can one child serve? And to what point? And if they don’t serve, they go to Saturday school. No, it is not as glamorous and cool as the scenes you remember from the Breakfast Club, lol. And for our boy Luke… it was another brick in the wall.

I think you have probably come to some conclusions around what Luke looked like in a school environment and I think it is safe to say…. he didn’t look like the usual kid. But our school systems are SO RIGID, we can’t think outside the box and ask, how do we make this work for this child? He’s here, at least. Maybe we let the tardies go? Maybe we say no tardy unless he’s twenty minutes late? Flexibility? Unique cases consideration? Pshhh… That is not the reality of our school systems, friends.

In February of 2015 Luke was DROWNING in tardies and d-halls. DROWNING. When you hate school you can’t sit through classes all day and then be expected to sit through d-hall and then be expected to go to Saturday school on top of all that. John and I were concerned about Luke’s mental state and we wrote an email to the school hoping we could *figure something out*. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for Luke and we were desperate. Rules are rules are rules, Mr. and Mrs. Inwood. Sigh. Thank you for not helping.

The last Saturday in March, two weeks before he would die, Luke had Saturday school. I am sitting in my chair drinking my coffee when I realize the time is getting late and Luke is not going to make it to his d-hall. Because you can also be tardy to Saturday school, friends. They lock the doors and you can’t get in. See you next week, sucker. SO – I am panicked, because I am the MOM and panic is my job. I jump up from my chair, start yelling “LUKE, YOU’RE GONNA BE LATE!” at the top of my lungs and promptly smash my left foot into the hand weight that I had left in my path post-workout. True story. It is one ugly toe now, lol, but it makes me giggle and sigh every time I look down at it. Luke? He didn’t make it.

So here’s what I need you to know: I am a rule follower. Well, my boss will tell you I like rules that work for me, lol. But truly, I am the one you find walking between the lines. I do not suggest that we take individual circumstances into consideration lightly. I like my kids in a row at school, I want homework turned in on time, I want you to raise your hand if you have something to say. I like expected outcomes. Control. But what I have learned- in the years of raising Luke and then losing him – is that life is not a one size fits all experience. Kids have changed, friends. Whether we like it or not, they are more sensitive, more complicated. And we have to respond. Educators are taught to meet a child where they are academically and then work like hell to get them to where we need them to be. Why should it be any different for behavioral and mental health concerns? And I want to be clear, here. This is not a Wachusett thing. This is an everybody thing.

I am going to say when we know better we do better. And we damn well know better now, folks. If you are raising your own Luke Inwood, don’t just ask what can be done differently, demand it. #IHaveRegrets. If you are teachers or administrators, don’t be afraid to get out of the box and really, truly consider the needs of these special circumstances kind of kids. There are only ever one or two Luke Inwood kind of kiddos in a grade. They don’t need more discipline. They need help. I dream of a future where we identify each of these kiddos and meet them where they are. You might be only asking to add minutes to a start time, but it might just add moments to a life. #NotOneMore.

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