Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Epiphanies, plural

Lillian likes to lay like this when I'm reading to her at night.  The doctor says that her hypotonia is no longer detectable, but she's still really floppy and it's hard to tell if she does stuff like this because she can, or because it takes too much core strength to sit upright.

I don't know what I was thinking or hoping, but I think deep down, I thought that because she had grown out of the hypotonia, she might have grown out of the ADHD and maybe picked up some number sense over the summer.  But in the first few weeks of school, she's shown that this is not the case.  In considering my feelings about having a child with learning disabilities, I've realized a few things.

1. I was thinking about how Lillian could really use a full-time math tutor.  Someone to sit with her every night and do math homework; who was good at math and good with kids and could really get Lillian and explain things to her.  I starting thinking about how much that would cost and how much I would have to work to be able to pay for it when I realized that I do that.  Like, that's what a mom does- whatever it takes.   Your kid needs extra math help?  You're a math tutor.  Your kid needs a special diet? You're a chef.  Your kid needs a soft place to land?  You're a pillow.  It's pretty obvious- of course I'm going to be there for my kids, but it was just a moment of clarity that *I* could help solve this problem.

2.  I loved school.  I loved going and taking tests and learning everything.  Test taking is very easy for me; I could probably take a multiple choice test on a subject that I know nothing about and get a decent grade because I have a sense about what correct answers look like.  I liked to think that I was kind to everyone and respected all the kids regardless of scholastic aptitude, but I'm realizing that I looked down on people who weren't as smart as me.  I thought I was better than them.  Now that I have Lillian, I realize that she works way harder than I ever did at math.  She struggles to complete worksheets in class and then has to finish them at home on top of the homework, plus she goes to extra tutoring in the resource room, plus I practice with her every day and on weekends.  And she does it with minimal complaints.

When I got to AP Physics in high school, it was hard for me, and instead of sticking it out, I arranged with UCSB (to which I had already been accepted) to drop out with an F on my transcripts.  I had no coping skills built up to tackle a difficult subject because no subject had been difficult before.  For a long time, I congratulated myself on my clever solution to my problem, but I realize now that it was a total cop out.

3.  I need to be more sensitive about bragging about my kids.  Nora is very smart, and sometimes I get carried away telling people about it.  However, it's totally the pot calling the kettle black because when people brag to me about their Lillian-aged kids, I want to punch them in the face... or just cry.  That's great for you that your 8-year old has read all 7 of the Harry Potter books (Lillian can barely read Magic Treehouse and that's only if I'm sitting next to her to remind her of where she is when she gets distracted) but that doesn't make your child better, or mean that you are a better parent than me.  I'm sure this is just me projecting my insecurities, but I don't want to make other parents feel bad because their 5-year old can't count by 3's (which Nora likes to show off).  IT'S NOTHING I DID, she's just like that.  Its also something I need to remind myself- My parenting can't and shouldn't be measured by the achievements of my children.
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