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Almost the End and Prayers for Beginnings

August 20, 2014

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Summer is quickly coming to an end here in Texas land.  We are on the slow side of starting school this year–for the past week I’ve been watching the wonderful back to school pictures of kids on Facebook (usually on Monday or Tuesdays).  Our turn is coming.  Monday it begins.

I’m working on getting in the school mood, but to be honest, I am really in no hurry whatsoever.  Last year’s school year wasn’t an easy one–especially for my middlest.  I must admit, I bribed my boy to attend school last spring–more or less a dollar day (to buy the computer version of Minecraft) for each day he went to school without a fight.

You can see why I may not be looking forward to school.

Starting a school year is a bit different for kids who are different learners.  Soon after winter break last year, we realized my middlest wasn’t progressing like he should in reading.  Despite extra help at home, at school, and after school, his reading skills weren’t developing like regular readers.  We waded through the evaluation process and spent a lot of time waiting.  Then we waited some more.  Then summer started and we practiced waiting some more.

One week ago, I received a phone call from the school.  The evaluation results were back–my middlest is dyslexic.  His brain processes reading differently than normal readers–his struggles last year had nothing to do with intelligence (the report even told us that), but from having a similar brain to Einstein and Spielberg.

Those words only go but so far with a 7 year old who has thought for the past nine months that he was stupid.  For him, school is a reminder he is not smart, even though all of us knew all along that he is plenty smart.  He doesn’t feel smart.

Summer has been bliss for him.  We’ve been reading to him–he loves books, finishing the Gregor the Overlander series and listening to four long chapter books (3 Newbery Medal winners) on our road trip.  He reads to us some, but we haven’t pushed him.  He reads the books I’ve leveled (found the corresponding DRA level so I can be sure he’s successful while reading), he reads road signs and bumper stickers, and the other print that occurs around him (like the texts I send).  We tried to use the summer to nurture his self-esteem that was pummeled last year.

I take deep breaths while I think about the upcoming school year.

My middlest had a great teacher last year.  Our problem isn’t with teachers.  We loved our teachers.  No matter how good a teacher is though, a child notices when he isn’t reading as well as his friends are.  

It’s hard for me to be excited.  I’m working on it though, because I have two others going to school this year as well.  I’m trying not to worry about them either.  I’m mostly successful.  Mostly.

I can’t promise my middlest everything is going to be ok this year at school.  I wish I could.  My oldest I can confidently tell that fourth grade is going to be just fine.  I believe it too–school is easy for her and she has proven she will be ok.  But my middlest?  The best I can tell him is that I have his back.  I can tell him that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make the school year better this year.  We’ve talked about dyslexia.  We’ve talked about how smart he is, how his brain is similar to super smart people’s.  He’s starting to believe it too–after watching Spy Kids, he told me there were smart kids in the movie, just like him.  It made my heart dance.  We’ve talked about having a team of people behind him to help him break the mysterious code that is reading.  DSC_4100

That walk through the doors of the school next Monday will be a work of faith.  Prayers are surrounding my children as they start this school year–let them be intact when they leave the year.  Let my youngest with a speech delay feel accepted in his kindergarten classroom.  Let him be confident and love learning.  Let him be himself.  Let my oldest be kind as she enters fourth grade, when girls especially start being not so kind.  Let her reach out to the kid who feels left out.  Let all children feel like they are her friend.  Let her be herself and not bend to be the person she thinks her friends want her to be.

And for my middlest…..Let him be surrounded with love this year.  Let him come home from school with his head held high instead of bowed low in shame.  Let him know he is smart.  Let him find ways to use his incredible gifts.  Let him continue to be kind to everyone, no matter what.  Let his weaknesses make him more compassionate.

No matter how old my kids seem to be, the start of the year is hard for me.  I am a worrier and have a collection of experiences that have justified my worry.  For my oldest, it’s easier, but for my two with unique challenges who don’t fit the “normal” learner definition I worry, like I suspect all mamas out there with kids who have extra challenges worry.

If you are one of those worrying mamas, know that you are not worrying alone.  It’s ok if you are terrified that school is starting and you want the lower stress of summer to continue.  It’s ok if you would rather keep your loves safe in your house when they know they are enough, rather than sending them to school when they have to fight to feel like they are intelligent.  It’s ok.  There are others of us with you, wondering how we are going to make it through another school, wondering if we really can.

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