The school year was coming to an end. “Anxious” was one word to describe how I felt–a nice, mild word.
My mind was spinning with questions, day and night:
What will the results of the Child Study reveal?
Will Benji qualify for Special Education Services?
Is Benji going to pass first grade?
That last question tied my gut in knots on a daily basis. When Benji’s teacher finally set up a meeting with us near the end of May, I was jittery with anticipation. But I was dreading the conversation.
In my heart, I think I knew the answer.
I was thankful that the principal joined us for the meeting. She had been a wise and thoughtful advocate for Benji, and for Aaron and me as parents, throughout this whole process.
We sat in tiny plastic chairs beside a kid-sized table. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland–I had fallen down the wrong rabbit hole and was in a strange world, in a situation that felt too big to handle.
We talked a long time about test scores, academic progress, intervention strategies that we tried that year; there were papers, graphs, data analysis.
Usually the talker, I was quiet for most of this meeting, my heart thudding.
Finally, the results:
“We are recommending that he be retained in first grade next year.”
And there it was: The Answer.
…but with a catch.
The principal raised her eyebrows at us, looking over the tops of her glasses. “We don’t do this for many students, but we are going to let you, as the parents, decide whether or not to retain him or promote him to 2nd grade.”
She nodded, “Because he’s a twin.”
Then she added: “I’ve seen some interesting scenarios over the years, with twins. Just a few years ago, we had a twin girls, identical.
“One was struggling and needed to be held back. Then the next school year her sister, who was not struggling the year before, had her worst school year ever. And then she needed to be held back. Really interesting…”
I found my voice. “What do you think it was?”
She pressed her lips together and shook her head slightly. “I’m not sure. But if I was to guess, I would say it was something like…grief.”
The word hovered in the air and I absorbed it, fully, to my heart and soul.
We had the answer we so desperately wanted–but now we had even more questions, and not just about Benji. What about Micah?
If we hold Benji back, what will this mean for his brother?
If we promote Benji to 2nd grade, will he struggle even more to keep up?
What are we going to do?
It felt like an impossible decision.