At that moment, I felt helpless. So utterly, completely helpless, with no idea what to do or what the right response was. 

“Myles had a really bad day. He’s in the office. He was hitting, punching, talking back, yelling. Miss L and Miss H had problems with him, I had problems with him, and Miss S couldn’t control him and sent him to the office.”

I don’t know what I was supposed to say, or even what I was supposed to feel. I felt like I should feel guilty, like I was expected to be apologetic, like I should look more ashamed of my son’s behavior.

Instead, I felt bewildered. He was fine this morning. He’s been fine most of the time lately. It had seemed like the school was helping him manage his anger. Why were we doing this again? I felt so lost when people were telling me that my son was the devil incarnate and looking at me expectantly as if I had a magic wand to pull out of my ass and *POOF* make him a saintly young man. With me, he wasn’t a saint, but just a kid, a normal kid, not a demon.

“Ok, thanks,” I mumbled, turning and walking out the door. The blank, tired, cow-eyed expression of the teacher already told me that I wasn’t going to have any deep and meaningful conversations about advanced child-rearing techniques that evening.

Myles was perched on a chair in the director’s office, chattering about the birds outside. My little bird, his tiny face upturned, not ecstatically overjoyed to see me but expectant, trusting, knowing that I was coming and would never let him down. The director barely acknowledged my existence, muttering something about Myles having a bad day and then turning back to whatever she was looking at on her phone. We walked out, heading down the hall to get Ethan.

What I wanted to do in that moment was get down on my knees and hug Myles so tight and not let go. Somehow use my body to infuse him with the knowledge that I am fighting for us. That I am doing everything that I can. That I know it’s not enough but that I will not let him down. That I love him the way he is, flawed and imperfect and beautiful and stumbling through life the way we all are. But a dozen eyes on us wanted me to tell him only that his behavior was not ok. That this Myles, here, was not lovable and desirable.

We gathered Ethan. “MOMMY!” My smallest boy barreled to me, past me, down the hallway and through the front door, Myles and I trailing behind. Outside the door, a handful of misshapen tulips poked through the tattered mulch, blooming pink, still, even in the face of so much neglect.

I want to choose love. Maybe tattered and misshapen, but love nonetheless.