Continued from part 1 of Amanda’s story

Amanda, mother of 4 wonderful children ranging from 5 – 15 years old

I was a high school dropout at the age of 16. The last thing I wanted for my child is to experience the hardship I still do to this day. However, the one good thing that came out of it was becoming a mother to my son. Shortly after my son’s 1st birthday we relocated to another province that offered all the services and support I needed to succeed and I was able to graduate and get my Grade 12 diploma with a baby on my hip. It was not easy and I barely did it. But with hard work and determination, I succeeded. I had to. It was important to be a good role model for my child so that he could not use my dropping out as an excuse not to succeed when he gets older. Having a child at a young age is NOT a solution and it should not have taken that to access the services and support I so needed, but it saved my life. I could have easily fallen into life on the streets with people I can easily relate to when talking about school.

When my son entered grade 3 and I was told that he was a high risk for school drop out, I felt lost and defeated. I tried my best as a mom and was actively involved in the school but was still being misunderstood and told that it was “not a big deal”.  I decided to take matters into my own hands and became my child’s teacher. Now that was a big deal. I cannot read or write properly so how was I going to manage taking on this responsibility. But, as they say, a mother will do anything to make sure their child stands a chance at succeeding even if it means homeschooling, or in our case, road schooling.  I was blessed to have had the opportunity to do so for 5 years and I watched my son flourish. However, I could not continue and this was tragic for us. My son has been back in the education system for three years and in those three years my son has had maybe a total of five months of school. There has been very little effort or proper treatment options. All we seem to be doing is waiting and that is not OK. My son started each year excited, determined and eager to learn but with each time left with disappointment and despair.

This problem might not seem like a big deal to most. But the social shame of not being in school for him and the stress for me as a mother of a student who is not attending like everybody else has created a whole new set of problems. The small window of opportunity is slowly closing as each day passes and I watch my son fall deeper into his dependency on cannabis that he uses to cope and mask the embarrassment of peers finding out he cannot read or write. As humans, we have a natural ability to survive and navigate your way through this world. For myself it was becoming a young mother and for my son it is cannabis. But it should not be that way. In my opinion this is very concerning and requires urgent attention. With the amount of distress it puts on us, each day is a crisis. My son has little chance of succeeding in life if someone does not start taking his matter seriously. We are asking to be truly heard by someone who understands these issues. Thank you.

Photo credit: Shutterstock