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To Alex's New Teacher

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Dear Mrs. 5th Grade Teacher,

Normally I would have come in on "Meet the Teacher" Day, during the week before the start of school, to meet you; to tell you some insider tips on "Alex Marvin". Yes I said Alex Marvin, not William Alexander Hyphenated-LastName. See, there's the first thing I would have told you, he's Alex Marvin, and he wont let you say otherwise. I would also tell you to sit him on the end of one of your neat rows of desks, sometimes his feet sneak out and touch the feet of the people around him. I also would have warned you that, when you play your getting to know you games, and you ask about brothers and sisters, Alex will tell you his sister is dead. I wonder, dear teacher, were you shocked at the matter of fact way he said it, did it make you sad, did it make you wonder? A preschool teacher accused him of making it up several years ago, and ever since I have politely, quietly, informed his teacher ahead of time.

I didn't come and see you this year on the allotted day. Instead I took my family on a cruise to Bermuda. I wanted to see Alex's smile and take some of the pain from my husband and give him the joy of a new experience, and yes, to give myself some peace.

By now you have read Alex's official record. You know he was suspended last year for five days. You know that he receives interventions and has a behavior plan and is highly likely to disrupt the class on a regular basis. You're probably horrified, wondering why they stuck you with him. But there are things you don't know; like about the baby sister he dreamed of having and how she was here for such a short time. You probably don't know that before fourth grade he had read and understood the entire Hunger Games series, but he wont read Harry Potter because it's a "children's book". Last year all he asked for for Christmas was a waffle iron. You don't know that he badly wants you to like him, and that he prays every day for the other kids to forget the naughty things he's done. He also gets angry and declares that it doesn't matter if he's good or not, the other kids will never forget the past; they will never be his friends. You see Alex has been in your school since kindergarten and in that time, he has been invited to exactly two birthday parties and zero play dates. This is something he is extremely aware of. I have been in ear shot when other parents told their children not to play with Alex. My husband and I have thought of moving, but financially it's not an option. We cannot afford private school either. So I ask you a favor, give him a chance. Let him think you want him in your class, don't let him overhear you saying that you wish he didn't have the best attendance record in the class (he knows what that means). If he misbehaves, and he will, discipline him, and call me, or email me, and I will back you up at home so that he knows we are a team.

I wont be coming into your class to volunteer. I work in a school myself, so we have the same hours, but if you want a meeting after school, or to touch base, just call me. I know Alex isn't perfect. I'm not that kind of parent. But he's still my child, the only one I have left, so I will support you, and I will support him.

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