The oft-told story of – oh, look! A butterfly!

Three weeks. We made it three weeks into the school year.

You know how much I adore my youngest daughter. Bee is one of my favorite people in the entire world, and not just because I’m bound by contract to think so. She’s one of the sweetest, most empathetic and caring souls you will ever have the privilege to meet. She knows how to work hard. She’s funny as hell – seriously, even die-hard competitive Gracie loses graciously to Bee when we play Apples to Apples because Bee makes us all cry with laughter (intentionally and not).

But, as you’ve all heard me complain about many times, Bee is also what one might call…a bit scatterbrained. I can ask that sweet girlchild to go put her shoes away, and in the space of 30 seconds and while walking a straight line, she will be distracted by eight different things and be confused when I ask her why her shoes are now in the hallway. Because she has already forgotten.

Last year gave me a bit of hope. She held on to her sweaters and sweatshirts at school instead of losing one every week. She still lost dozens of homework assignments, but at least she understood how to do the work and didn’t complain when I made her redo them. Bee will always be a lovable space cadet, but I saw a glimmer of hope that her condition might be manageable.

And then on Monday afternoon, three weeks into the school year, came the text. Kimmy G., a teacher at Bee’s school and family friend, texted me on behalf of Bee’s teacher, asking where her Unit 1 test was. The class had been working on them during the last week, but she couldn’t find Bee’s. Had I seen it at home?

So began a flurry of texts back and forth, from Bee’s teacher to me (through Kim), from me to Bee’s dad (Bee had been at her dad’s for the last three weekends, and he has them overnight on Wednesdays when graded or incomplete work is sent home), from me to Bee’s teacher (through Kim – seriously, I owe her baked goods), and finally an email from me to Bee’s teacher.

Three weeks before Bee lost a Very Important Paper. How is she ever going to survive junior high or high school when having mama peek over her shoulder is less and less acceptable? How will she fare in college or the “real” world? Yes, yes, I get that she is ten – but shouldn’t she be able to get by now, especially with all of our conversations and lectures and tears, that you need to be organized if you want to not fail?

Because that was the alternative. Bee’s teacher said if Bee couldn’t find her flippin’ test [uh, my emphasis. ahem.] that she could retake it the next day. She didn’t want to give Bee a zero. But I was tempted. That might be what it would take for the message to sink it. Bee promises to do better every time, but I’m not seeing results.

And then there’s this complication: Bee’s running for office in Student Council. She didn’t want to even participate in Student Council, but this year she’s all about it. I encouraged her once she told me, and she surprised me by announcing she wanted to be president. No low-key office for my girl! Only…my Ex told me Bee had forgotten her application (and a library book) at his house that weekend. So now we had a missing test and a forgotten application. Oh! And Student Council members have to maintain A and B averages. A zero on a certain misplaced test would mean Bee would lose her qualification before she even started.

This is where I kind of lost it. I turned into Mean Mama.

I picked up Gracie from her choir meeting and raced over for a parent/teacher presentation at Bee’s school that I hadn’t been planning on attending – it was the same Here Are the Services We Provide meeting that I’ve seen 3298209384 times over the last seven years. Bee’s teachers are the same ones that Gracie had – obviously we know them well if they know to text me through Kim G! But now I had all this mama-guilt because they were trying to do my daughter a kindness, and so Gracie and I trudged in and sat down and listened to the spiel. I was glad I did – only one other parent from Bee’s class was there.

And you know what? The fact that they know Bee’s family is supportive and engaged, that we’ll do what we can to support Bee (and them) throughout the year, that’s one of the reasons they want to help Bee out with retaking the test. I shared with them (because Bee was out of the room) that I was thinking of not letting her apply for Student Council. She had forgotten the application; she had misplaced her test. Her teachers shook their heads and talked me into letting her do it. I felt like an enabler, but I let them give Bee another copy of the application when my special snowflake sauntered in after her AfterCare program ended.

I sat down and helped Bee think of dynamic sentences for the questions. I helped her evaluate which position(s) she wanted to apply for (you had to list a few preferences) and watched her print her answers in her very neatest handwriting. I’m still conflicted, but I felt good. Maybe it will motivate her to do better. To study harder. To remember the organizational tricks we’ve discussed.

And then last night I found the application that she had carefully paperclipped into her planner sitting back on the kitchen table. Under a notebook. Forgotten about.


The butterfly nets will be coming out soon, but not because I think I can round up all of Bee’s distractions. It will be because I’m headed for the funny farm. Wow, is it a good thing I love my flutterbudget so dang much.


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One Response to “The oft-told story of – oh, look! A butterfly!”

  1. Kathy Says:

    You could have written this about my boy. The one that teachers have helped over and over. The one I have helped over and over. Until last year, freshman year, his science teacher emailed about 3 weeks into the year because he was thisclose to having a failing grade. My response was shocking to the teacher but exactly what the boy needed. I have already taken freshman science. School is his job; I work for the State. I won’t be there to hold his hand on the first day of work and the is a safe place to fail. If he has to go to summer school so be it. And, maybe this will get him to understand cause and effect.

    It seems to have worked. Believe me – you will know when it is time to let Bee learn that lesson. Trust you mama gut. And warn me before she takes over the world – staring with Student Council president.

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