As I begin this blog, I am also beginning a journey. Not an ordinary journey where one would pack, plan, and travel to some unknown bit of earth for an extraordinary experience. No, this journey is merely a journey through life, a new page. A new experience, certainly.
While we are not packing or traveling, we are looking eagerly ahead to the steps we will take and the experiences we will have.
It begins where ordinary journeys do, at home, with some slightly extraordinary people. You see, ours is not a typical life. We have a rather larger than normal family in a rather smaller than normal community. We spend our days cooking, cleaning, and driving our children to soccer, gymnastics, cheerleading, and football. My husband owns a small construction business and I work online at home.
We worry about schoolwork, even though it’s done in our very own schoolroom at home, and how our children turn out, even though they’re with us most of the day.
Our life has never been entirely normal, but we still had normal problems. That is, until about a month ago.
That’s when my eight year old daughter had her first major episode. It was an ordinary school day. I alternated my time between our six children, each working on their own workbooks or projects. My husband had come home early, a rare treat for all of us, and we were hurrying to finish work for the day because Daddy had a surprise planned for the children when they finished.
Then came the tears. Quiet, at first. I went to my little girl, who sat sobbing at the computer working on her Language Arts program.
“What’s wrong, honey?!” I asked.
“I’m so stupid! I can’t do this!” she replied.
“You’re not stupid! Why would you say that? Why do you think you can’t do this?”
“I can’t remember anything! I can’t even remember what the letters sound like!” came the tortured reply.
I was shocked. Dismayed. Horrified. My brilliant little girl thought herself stupid. She genuinely could not remember how to sound out any of the words.
That moment decided our fate. I would not stand by in idleness while she gave up!
This was the culmination of several months worth of small frustrations she had been exhibiting. We started out with little frustrations, such as mixing up letters, which we discovered was solved by her getting glasses. Then it progressed into frustration over the speed of her reading, onto frustration over her memory, then to frustration at her inability to spell.
Alongside my sweet eight year old’s frustrations, my six year old son (my oldest boy and one of a set of twins) began to exhibit some of the same characteristics. Where she would break down and cry, he would get angry over the same situations. Where she was scream and rant, he would clam up and shut down. But they both had the same outcome: they hated school and had begun to believe they were just not good enough, regardless of what we told them.
As we sit today (Tuesday, March 13, 2012), we have begun to take steps. My husband and I have both begun to delve into the information available online and at the library. We’ve contacted, and met with, a local therapist that specializes in attention, behavioral, and learning difficulties in adolescents. Each of the children have met with her for their evaluations. We are expecting soon to begin a plan prescribed by her.
In the meantime, life must go on. Digging through the morass to find our useful information for and from a parent’s perspective feels like we are Indian Jones struggling, fighting with all our might, through thick cobwebs and pits full of snakes for the Holy Grail. We must prevail, but the going is hard.
(My deepest apologies if you’ve never seen, or are not a fan of, Indy! Imagine the scariest, most difficult challenge you could imagine facing, and yet knowing you somehow MUST get through it and you’ll understand the analogy a bit more.)
We write because we must.
We must share this journey with those fighting a similar one; to learn, to grow, to encourage.
We are not alone. We are not lost. We are not helpless.
Neither are you.