My Little has been struggling in school again recently. Hubs and I could tell that she was struggling with something, but no matter how many times we spoke to her we couldn’t get it all out of her. She wasn’t ready to talk about it.
Yesterday, as we were getting ready to head to the bus stop she looks at me in her neon pink fluffy hat, puffy coat and backpack with the saddest eyes and says: “Mommy, Ariel says she wants to kill herself and I don’t want her to be died.”
This was the first I’d heard of Ariel anywhere so it was shocking on two accounts. I asked her who Ariel was and if she was in her class or if she was in another class. The only thing my Little knew was that she was a bit older and sometimes sat next to her on the bus. My Little is six years old. Her bus is an elementary school bus. Even though Ariel was older she was still an elementary school child at some age range. My heart broke into a million tiny pieces.
I promised Little that I would call the school and see how we could help. She seemed satisfied with that answer and hopped onto the bus with a smile. I did call the school, and thankfully they were able to find the right Ariel. She is safe, her parents have been informed, and the school counselor has an action plan in place to give her the support she needs while she works through this difficult spot in her life.
I was relieved that they were able to find her, and everything seems to be heading in the right direction for this precious little child. At the same time it triggered a whole bunch of depression and a huge emotional roller coaster which eventually led to me making an appointment with my therapist.
Little doesn’t know this, but several of my friends are participating in a fundraiser to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention which I’ve been promoting. Little also doesn’t know that Nov 24th was the anniversary of my own breaking point and contemplation with suicide so many years ago before I sought help for my PTSD. My Little, her beautiful soul simply did the right thing. She knew that someone contemplating suicide was a serious problem and needed to be addressed by an adult. It took her a day or two to finally figure out how to talk about it since it was emotionally overwhelming for her just as much as it was for Ariel, but once she found the words a weight of responsibility fell from her small shoulders and it was painfully obvious.
Little had a meeting with her school counselor, and I think I might make her an appointment with our private therapist as well to help her understand the weight of the situation. Everyone was incredibly supportive of Little’s empathy and bravery for speaking up which is nice, but as adults we were also hurting for the fact that my child has been exposed to such a bleak and dark level of the human condition at such a young age.
I called the school which was the rational thing to do. What I really WANTED to do as soon as Little explained the problem to me was to hop on that school bus, find this Ariel myself and give her a giant hug. I don’t know the circumstances for Ariel’s pain, and having some random pajama clad mom jump on the bus to give you a hug probably isn’t going to help. And yet, having been in the situation myself, the lowest of low points where all it took was a gentle hug and some validation of my own situation maybe a hug from a random pajama clad mom on the way to school would have made a difference.
I did give my Little a giant hug when she hopped off the bus yesterday. We talked about it as a family and took her out to dinner as a celebration for her good deed. As much as I struggle with parenting learning as I go, it brings me so much joy to see that my children genuinely care about others. They may not be the most socially adept kiddos, or the most well behaved, but dammit they appreciate their fellow human beings enough to speak up when something is wrong. That’s a parenting win in my book.