Saturday, October 5, 2013

Parenting - Actions Speak Louder

I learn so much from parenting.  

Sometimes, it's humbling.

Sometimes, it's downright embarrassing.

Since forever, Q has had a difficult time reading and writing.  He hates reading.  He hates writing.  And he has to work really hard at both.  Last year, we had the school do some testing, because I was really concerned that he has dyslexia.  Studying for spelling tests were a daily struggle and I felt like I was waaaaay out of my league.  I needed help in helping him.  The testing revealed that he was reading and writing at a grade level lower than he is in.  This spiked my anxiety.  Reading and writing at a grade level lower can be an indication of a learning disability.

Q is always so good at everything he does.  He's awesome at sports, he can do math in his head, he beats me at board and card games all the time.  Everything comes so easy for him.  I knew it must be so frustrating for him to have such a difficult time with spelling.

So I did everything I could do to help.  We studied those 20 words for hours every week.  Hours.  Like, I'm talking hours.  On average, we were spending 30 minutes to an hour every night practicing the words.  I would have him stare at the word, write the letters, say the letters - all in an attempt to help him succeed on the spelling test every Friday.  And then I would stress that it didn't matter what the mark was, as long as he did his best, I was super proud of him for doing his best.

We finally hit out breaking point.  

I called the principal.  

She reviewed his file.

She called his teacher, a learning specialist, and me into her office so we could discuss how best to help my child with his learning disability.

So you know when you take your kid to the doctor because he's super sick and the second the doctor walks into the room, your kid is fine.  Totally fine.  And you look like the paranoid, overprotected mother??


This meeting was kind of like that.  

It was Friday, so Q had a spelling test.  He got 26/30.  Twenty six out of thirty words that have* ie* and *ei* (and don't follow the rules).  Words like receive and believe.  And he got 26 of them right.

Pretty fricken awesome, right?

Then the learning specialist had him read...where he read perfectly at a grade 4 level.

He's in grade 4.

The LST says, "So where's the problem?"

The principal says, "Does he have a lot of pressure from home to do well?"

The teacher says, "I've brought his journal.  It's very well written."

I started to sweat.  

What was going on here???

"Yes, but we had to study an hour every night for him to get 26/30..."  As the words are coming out of my mouth, I'm trying to grab them and put them back.

The principal says, "Does he enjoy sitting and practicing for an hour every day?"

Uh, no.

The teacher says, "He should be practicing for no more than 20 minutes per night."

They all just stare at me.  

As I'm sitting there, it finally hit me.

I'm telling Q that it doesn't matter what he gets on his test as long as he tries his best, but my actions are telling Q that he needs to try harder, do better, and sit in that chair until he gets every single word right. Because as long as your best is perfect, we're all happy.  

I wanted to crawl under the table, slink my way to the door, and then run for my life.  

Suffice it to say, my son does not have a learning disability.  He has an insane mother with outrageous expectations.  We're going to practice spelling for 20 minutes a day.  We're going to read for 20 minutes a day.  We're going to celebrate (one of his spelling words, btw) no matter the results.  We're going to practice what we preach.  As long as we do our best, we're super proud of ourselves.

I'm also going to stop reading Harry Potter to him while he cries that he's soooooooooo bored and hates Harry Potter.  I'm going to stop telling him I'm doing this for his own good - to inspire his reading and if he would just listen, he would love it, and he would love reading, and he will feel passion for reading.

Like I do...

Oh...and one more thing....

Momma, you were right.


  1. So, now it has been a couple of months. Has it worked? Is he doing just as well at spelling as when you studied an hour? I was DISMAL at spelling. Still am. I've seen engineers, making six figures a year, who can't type an email with proper English to save their souls, yet they are enormously successful. For me, I had the best luck if I pronounced words the way they are spelled. Neck-assary helped me spell necessary rather than nessassary.

    I feel for you in that meeting. You wrote this blog so well, I still wish you'd write a book. Your writing is SO impressive..

    1. Hi Melanie!!

      Hahaha, yes, it did work!! Taking the pressure off of him (and me) seems to have done it. I mean, he's definitely not an A+ student, and he still doesn't like it, but it looks like he's turned a corner and is on par with his classmates!! Yay!!!

      And if I could only figure out how to put all these thoughts on a page with a beginning, middle and end, I might just write that book!!! How's yours coming along? So good to hear from you!