Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Heartbreak

I'm struggling with how much to post and how much to keep to myself. In the interest of being honest (and feeling desperate), I'm choosing to share.

Remember parent-teacher conferences? The excitement and sometimes anxiety of having your parents talk to your teacher? Remember the book fairs? They made it all worthwhile! Here's where I have to interject that I was the kid my parents never worried about. My grades were always good. I never had to work too hard to get good grades. I'm not saying this to brag. I'm not trying to say how smart I am, and my husband would definitely use this opportunity to point out how blonde I can be! My point is, school always came easy to me. If I worked (or even sometimes, if I didn't), I had good grades. (Kevin, on the other hand, never tried. He did what he had to do, but that was it.)

Remember the dreams you had for your child? MY child is going to ace through school. He will enjoy reading. The teacher will love MY child, after all, he is the smartest, sweetest, funniest, most handsome student she has ever had! When he finishes high school (after graduating with honors and being all-state in at least 2 sports), he will turn down the offers to go pro. He will just have to, because in this family, we value an education. He will just have to wait to play professional _______(fill in the blank, because he really could play it all!), until after he finishes med school (or perhaps law school) at, um, Harvard or Yale or Columbia or well, maybe even. . .University of Arkansas (Go, Hogs, Go!!).

Ah, if only life went the way we dream. . .Kyler is one full year behind in reading. That is one full year of school that he basically hasn't had. I knew he struggled in reading. He hates to read. He wants to be out playing, running, being wild. At best, he'll read a little, and then, I have to read the rest to him. I guess I've been in a very bad case of denial. When the teacher told me how behind he was (with charts and graphs and standard scores and NCE's and everything), I cried. I actually cried. Y'all, I AM NOT a crier. I am one of the least emotional women I know (at least in public). His teacher was very understanding and even admitted she has been there with her own kids. The teacher he had last year was very young and not the teacher HE needed. (She was very sweet, and I would be mortified if she read this. I do not intend to blame her.)

Now, all those morning of crying/whining about going to school and short temper after school and frustration with his homework makes sense. How could I not have seen this? (I chalked the temper, etc., up to everything else. . .Kevin working away so much, typical for his age, picking it up from someone else, just be ing a "boy" thing. . .) Why didn't we address this sooner? Why didn't someone else bring this to my attention? Why, oh why?

The good news (and there is some). His teacher this year is fully committed to improving his reading ability. I am fully committed to improving his reading ability. Between the two of us, we are going to get Kyler back where he needs to be. My realization, hard as it is to admit, is that Kyler is a beautiful, smart, creative, hyperactive young man, who will never be the top student in his class. My hope is that he is able to enjoy reading and learn what he needs to learn. (After all, the U of A has high standards, and some dreams die hard. . .) We have a long ways to go, and Kevin needs to come a long way to understand what is realistic for Kyler and what is not. (He's mad that he doesn't have straight A's. This, from the husband that made very few A's in his life!) Like I said, desperation and discouragment has pushed me over the edge of the cliff to write this, so please send kind words our way.


Erica said...

Oh, I have tears in my eyes. I can so feel your pain as I read this. You know what I thought about as I read this? I thought about that post from a while back when you talked about how "deep" and "spiritual" he is- I could tell how proud you are of him as I read that. I know you want him to do well and succeed in school-it's just what you do as a good parent. But just remember how bright and gifted he is in other ways too!!! He is such a precious child and he is so blessed to have a mom like you who will do whatever it takes to help him get where he needs to be. Trust me, some moms (and I do know some) don't even care about stuff like that. They just want to get them thru school but could care less about the actual education. HANG IN THERE!!!! I will pray for you guys.

Amy said...

Your pain is felt by many of us out there. Our aspirations and dreams and goals and hopes for our children are huge. He is going to succeed and prosper because he has 2 parents that love him and recognize the need to do extra to get him over that hump. You are blessed and he is blessed and keeping all things in perspective, you guys will make it through. Keep your head up and ask God for the guidance to get over this hurdle.

Mary said...

He will be fine. You will be fine.

All kids learn at different speeds.

I didn't learn to read until I was 7 and all my elem. teachers said I would never be "normal" because I was so behind. By 4th grad I had caught up and made straight As after that. (Except in math...)

Rebecca learned how to read at 4, taught herself. Jarod is 8 and just learned how. But they both love reading, Rebecca for hours at a time and Jarod for 5 minutes at a time. lol

Sounds like he has a great teacher and that will really help.

Schools were not designed with active little boys in mind, it's normal for them to want to be outside, but they adjust.

And I know you'll be able to work miracles with him, you did with Jarod. You were a key part in getting him to stay on track.

And yes, sometimes we have to change our views of what our kids will become. I know that Jarod will probably never attend college, but that's ok - he's the sweetest boy I know and will wow the world in other ways.


just another day in paradise said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I needed you all, and I thank God for you all!

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

What wonderful advice and encouragement you've already gotten. I can only add that:
1) My husband is a working writer, supporting our family with it. He HATED to read growing up. He discovered Tolkien at 18 and never looked back.
2) I have two super-readers and one not-so-much. The third seems to really have an affinity for math, so I'm trying to help her with her weaknesses and build on her strengths. w
3) I've been where you are with wondering how I could've missed something so "obvious" with my kids (like in one case a raging bladder infection). I felt like a total failure. Because of course we moms are supposed to predict and prevent ALL pain in our kids' lives. ;)

I really do believe that Kyler will be fine. God gave you that teacher this year, and the two of you can partner to really help him.

Prayers going your way!

Queen B said...

That is so hard. I'm really sorry. It is never fun to hear anything that isn't positive about our kiddos.

His grades will not determine the kind of man he will be. And the kind of man he will be is SO much more important. Even though we push our child to do her best in school, I honestly know that nobody will really ever know what grades she made. I truly don't know what kind of students my adult friends were...

God is good.

Anonymous said...

It is so hard on a mother's heart to watch your child struggle. It really doesn't matter what reading level he's at. It matters most that he feels loved and accepted which you've already given him.

Jenn said...

I am behind in reading, so this is late, but I have to comment anyway.

Kyler is fine. This is something that can be overcome,and it sounds like you all are already working on a good plan. Go ahead and get rid of that guilt that is nagging you (easier said than done, I know) and just find some new ways to get him engaged with reading.

Here are some things I did with my kids to encourage a love of reading if any of them help you.

I let them read pretty much whatever they want to. I want my kids to be familiar with classics, but if the only thing Matt wants to read this week is comic books then so be it. Reading comics for a couple of hours is reading. Reading the comic strips in the paper is reading. My kids will even sit with the sign language books and I call it reading... they have to read the word to know what it is they are trying to sign. I let Faith read the recipes to me as we cook together... yep, that is reading too.

My kids have learned they aren't allowed to watch movies based on books if they haven't read the book. I don't even have to remind them anymore. Twilight is coming out next month and Faith is desperately trying to finish getting it read. Harry Potter 6 is also coming, and on their own Chet and Matt are both re-reading the entire series. I never even made it a rule that they had to read the books again if a new movie in a series came out, but now that they think that they do I just let them.

I let them spend some of their "reading"time listening to books on CD. This lets them hear how the words work together, and they enjoy the stories more if they can relax and enjoy it instead of struggling over sounding out the words. Chet and I listened to Twilight on the trip to Memphis yesterday and today. He got just as much out of the book by hearing it as Faith is by reading it.

Kyle had a hard time learning to read. One year with a great teacher made a HUGE difference. Now he reads out loud to me every night. I encouraged him by taking him to the library and getting him to find books about the things he loves. When he realized he could read all sorts of baseball books, he was hooked. I let him read nothing but baseball until he was ready to branch out into other things. I didn't care if it was pre-school level, andI didn't discourage him if he grabbed a baseball book from the adult section. It got books into his hands.

Kyler is a great kid with lots of wonderful talents. Find something he LOVES and then find ways to include reading with it. There is a book about frogs that Beth loves to check out so she can compare the pictures to the frogs she catches at home. She doesn't even completely read yet. Just get books into his hands and into his daily life however you need to, and he will eventually find something that brings reading alive for him.

Anonymous said...

My daughter had issues when she was in elementary school. I used to tell her that the only grades I cared about were CONDUCT and EFFORT. Every other subject would take care of itself, because some kids are good at math and hate science. Or they are good in English but just cannot learn another language. You get what I'm saying I'm sure. My daughter ultimately ended up in Special Ed because of some learning disabilities. She even dropped out of high school, earned her GED, and then returned to take the classes she needed to get an actual high school graduation diploma. I was very proud of her. She is raising two daughters as a single parent and she has gone back to school to become a Medical Assistant. Now she wishes to pursue a Nursing Degree. I'm rooting for her and I know she can do anything she sets her mind to!