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Closed mouths don’t get fed

Closed mouths don’t get fed
June 14
00:00 2018

By Micha James

There is a thin line between sanity and insanity!  This school year has caused me to pray the prayers of my great-grandmother more than ever: “Lord, please keep me in my right mind …”

I am the mother of a rising ninth-grader who experienced one of the worst school years.  As a result of a side effect from a 90-day birth control medication trial, coupled with the trials of life, I experienced a period of deep depression.  A period that caused me to sit in the Hanes Mall parking lot, the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, stare at Forsyth Medical Center and plan how to receive the 72-hr treatment and be out in time to go to work the following Tuesday so no one would ever know. 

After stopping the medication and communicating my feelings with some of my “villagers,” including my health care provider, the weight of the depression is lifting.  I am a fighter, but it does not make me immune to issues.  There are no flow charts listing instructions on how to parent or what to do on days when I do not feel like “adulting.”  I had to open my mouth, talk about how I was feeling and be open to receiving help.  I risked being judged, misunderstood and not receiving the same support I so freely give others.  I was willing to take those risks versus the risk of my mental crisis taking over my life. All stories are not like mine.  I encourage you to be villager for someone. We all have problems, but I believe if we were willing to listen to help versus listen to gossip, it would change the trajectory for so many people who suffer in silence.

I also encourage you to get/stay involved in the community, particularly in the public schools.  Listed below is an abbreviated version of the letter I sent my son’s assistant principal and principal (school and teachers’ names have been removed) the day before his graduation, describing our school year.  Find a way to “feed” someone because, while the saying is, “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” many of us are silently hungry.

Letter follows

I am writing this note to you with gratitude, sadness and relief.

I have had five conversations with you in the two years my son, Michai, attended your school and they were all related to issues.  An issue where Michai’s Spanish teacher became so angry with him for a statement Michai made (one he was disciplined for) that it hindered her ability to educate him without bias.  So much so, we ultimately had to have him moved to another teacher.  Second issue was when he was accused of something and you were able to determine he had no involvement and the final one was when Michai’s FOURTH math teacher would not respond to my messages.  You followed up on all issues and this is where my gratitude lies.

Sadness is present because this is the year and the school where my son learned how Black he was; and we all know from the news how Black boys/men are viewed.  *Science teacher* called during the first semester to discuss two accusations; one true, the other false.  She also said, with fear in her voice, “… and he’s staring at me with those eyes.”  I was e-mailed by *second math teacher* to discuss Michai’s behavior, but when I came to the school to discuss, she ignored me and didn’t so much as even make eye contact.  After I discussed how I was offended by an assignment given by *English teacher*, it seemed Michai was watched more and I was e-mailed more about “petty stuff.”  *Fourth math teacher* stated, “I told Michai he’s wasting your money with a tutor …”  WHAT IS THAT TO SAY TO A STUDENT who grew 6 inches, is hormonal, dealing with “stuff” and voiced, while out sick, he didn’t like school anymore and inquired if he had to return?  This is where I almost had a mental break because I felt as though I failed as a parent since I CHOSE the school. 

Is Michai perfect?  Hell no, but I am relieved THIS school year is ending for Michai.  I am relieved Michai’s spirit is healing, which helps me heal as parent.  I write.  I don’t claim to be a professional but, I write.  As a writer I know I could have used “he,” “him” and “his” in place of Michai’s name, but I chose to write his name because I am happy to be able to use Michai’s name for a testimony rather than an “in memory of” tribute because it is no secret how high depression and suicide rates are in teens.  Again, I AM RELIEVED.

God knew whom to place in our village and they LITERALLY pulled us through to this day.  I am one who doesn’t celebrate 8th grade graduations because the expectation is that, at the very least, Michai is to obtain a High School Diploma, but I will celebrate tomorrow because we almost didn’t make it.

Michai’s Mom

Micha James is a health care advocate. James can be reached via michalavae@nullgmail.com.

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