It’s almost time for kids to go back to school and, sure, I’m excited about it, but not as excited as most other stay-at-home moms. You won’t see me posting a “first-day” picture of me jumping as the bus drives off with my kids. I’m not planning a mimosa breakfast with other moms to celebrate the kids’ first day back (although that does sound kinda fabulous!). I’ll laugh and joke about how relieved I am to be sending the kids off to school for eight hours everyday, but the truth is I’m nervous. Not first-day-jitter, nervous. No this is more of a my-child-has-dyslexia-so-please-be-kind nervous.
The first worry that will jog miles upon miles in my mind is, “Did I do enough reading with him over the summer?”
It’s a rhetorical question really. I know that no matter how much I read, or how much HE reads, reading will always be his kryptonite. Forming even simple words out of letters that just keep changing form (in his mind at least) can be extremely exhausting. So, while some nine year olds may have zipped through their first Harry Potter series over the summer, we begged, bargained, and, YES, bribed my nine year old to read first grade level books for cash. So, yeah, our summer “reading log” is about as long as my finger, I won’t say which one. I guess I’m nervous that I didn’t prepare him well enough.
While I can’t speak for all dyslexics, I can say that mine doesn’t favor change at all. And a change in teacher AND classmates might be enough to set us back months. We have an IEP or an Individualized Education Plan in place, so I know that his new teacher will be aware of his condition but his classmates won’t. I mean come on. Don’t you remember the kid in 3rd or 4th grade who read. so. slow.ly? I do! I wanted to slap him on his back so maybe he’d spit the words out faster. I never said anything mean or hurtful, but I also didn’t grow up in a time where oversharing was so overvalued.
We kept our thoughts to ourselves, especially the mean ones. Those days are gone. I’m nervous that as confident as my son is, that someone will break him with a simple snicker when he’s asked to read out loud.
And, then there are reading logs. Ooh! Reading logs are my nemesis. I loathe those things especially the ones that come with incentives like Six Flags tickets. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading. I value reading. I am so pleased that our school systems value reading and want to reward students for doing it. I just don’t like that my super competitive son, who also happens to have dyslexia, dreads reading with as much passion as he craves rewards. It’s a conundrum!
Reading for rewards simply doesn’t work for us. I mean I am literally PAYING my son to read this summer and he still isn’t getting it done. I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not encouraging him enough to read, He’s not reading the right books, I need to “read” by example.” Trust me, I’m doing all those things and more. I guess I’m just nervous that he’ll blame me, or worse he’ll blame himself, when he falls short of the classroom goal for a popcorn party.
The fact that I am nervous is probably a good sign that I did prepare him at least somewhat for the challenges ahead. Also, the dread I have is likely coming from the mama bear in me that wants to protect him from ridicule and embarrassment but we all want that for our kids, right?!? And disappointment? Well, it’s just a fact of life. We all deal with it, and, if we’re lucky, we learn from it.
Dyslexics are a special group. They’re extremely intelligent, resilient, and brave. If your child knows nothing about this condition, consider yourself blessed. Sharing a LOVE for reading with your child is such a cool thing. But please teach them about this condition because one in every five students has dyslexia and chances are your child shares a classroom with several dyslexics. And heck, I may even have a mimosa (or at least a hot cup of coffee) to celebrate peace and quiet once the kids go back to school. In the end, I know it’ll all be okay because I do care enough to be nervous for us both.
Fort Worth Moms hosts several community groups via Facebook, including the Moms of Special Needs Tarrant County. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.