Tears. Last year was the year of tears.
It was the year of me secretly wishing he would actually want to go to “real” school and truly like it.
It was also the year I knew he could not actually go to real school because I knew he could not read.
Last year we fought and bargained and lost hours of potential fun to no fun. Not any.
It was the first year we didn’t run off to the Botanic Gardens or the forest preserve just for the heck of it.
It was the first year we never had time to do fun science experiments because we couldn’t get through any lesson that involved reading.
I would say, “We will sit here until you read this.” And he would say, “Fine.” And 4 hours later, it was time to make dinner and we’d be sitting there staring daggers at each other.
Last year, other wonderful, homeschooling moms, would say, “Don’t worry, he’ll read when he’s ready.”
Last year, I knew that wasn’t true.
Last year, I said things in exasperation like, “Come on Isaiah, just try!” and “You know how to spell that, we just did it!” and “I am not going to read this for you, I know you can do it.”
And yet, I knew he couldn’t. I knew he couldn’t but I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe it was my fault, that I had failed as a teacher. I wanted to believe what everyone had told me, “When he’s ready, it will click.”
It did not click.
Last year, there was an elephant in the living room, and that elephant was Dyslexia.
This year, with a new school year looming, denial was no longer an option. With the threat of another year of tantrums, and tears, I stepped outside of my comfort zone to seek an answer. I believed I saw the signs of dyslexia, but my heart was conflicted.
This year began with an apology. “Isaiah, I am so sorry for all of the times I pushed you to read when you couldn’t. I want you to know that it is not your fault, it was not because you weren’t smart enough. You are so brilliant in so many ways, but your brain is missing the decoder for reading words that are written on paper. It is because you are so amazing and talented that I thought you should be able to read.”
“Mommy, I wish you had tried to find out that I was dyslexic earlier. I wish that you would have thought of it before. It was so hard for me when you would make me try to read, and I just couldn’t. But you wouldn’t let me not read. I was so mad at you for not helping me.”
“I know baby, I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say, except this year will be different. This year we will get back to doing the things we loved so much in homeschooling. We will do crafts again, and go on field trips, I will read you your math questions and it will be so much more fun.”
Already, I felt he was on to something else. “You know mommy? There should be some sort of invention, a computer program that has children read, and listens to them read. It should know, just how they are reading, and it will say to their mommy (in a computer voice) ‘This child has dyslexia.’ You know what mommy? Maybe with my amazing inventor brain, I will invent something that will help kids with dyslexia, something that will help parents know sooner. What do you think about that?”
“Well, I think that is a brilliant idea, and I know you can do it.”
She is the author and creator of JenKehl.com, Homeschooling My Way, and Beyond Blog Design. She has been published on BlogHer, BonBon Break, Scary Mommy, Mamapedia and several other parenting websites. Her work is included in the best-selling anthology The Mother of All Meltdowns, When she’s not writing about parenting special needs, 70s music and keeping the man from poisoning our kids, she’s watching Laverne & Shirley with headphones on to block out the kid with the missing volume control button.
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