A few months ago, I wrote about our experience with a school psychological evaluation. Admittedly, it felt like a punch in the gut for me. My Chicken Little brain immediately began picturing every worst-case scenario (a metaphorical falling sky if you will), and I was not in a good place. We were all overwhelmed. Since then, we have begun working with a therapist and reading specialist and are doing a lot of extra work at home. We have also begun a second assessment for specific learning disorders (namely Auditory Processing Disorder which is what myself and the Speech Language Pathologist suspect).
I truly respect the Speech Pathologist we have chosen to work with, as well as our son’s teachers and administrators. Each one of them has been fully transparent with us about how our son struggles and may continue to struggle. But they have also been kind, and patient with us as we navigate this bump in the road. They have answered our countless questions, helped us formulate plans to help our son be successful, and (most importantly) they have never made our son feel any different than his peers. My son is very intuitive, so he knows he struggles to a degree, but to know that he never feels different at school makes my mama heart happy.
I Want My Son To Be Successful, But I Also Don’t Want Him To Be Coddled
A few weeks ago, we had our first meeting set up with the Speech Pathologist to begin the second evaluation. I already had a full schedule, so my husband took him to the appointment (which is different from our normal routine). I am usually the one present for any and all medical appointments, and my son thrives on routines. So as you can expect, it didn’t go well. He would not leave my husband’s side and refused to work with the Speech Pathologist. Thankfully, she was wonderfully patient with us and agreed to set another meeting time where I could be present.
Later that day, when I picked our kids up from school, the first thing our son said to me was “I can’t go to Barnes & Noble because I didn’t do what I was supposed to.” (I had bribed him with a trip to his favorite place). He was noticeably disappointed in himself. I said “I’m not mad at you buddy. I understand that was scary.” Then I paused for a second and I asked, “Buddy, do you think school is hard?” He responded with a quiet “Yes,” as he purposefully avoided eye contact with me. I probed a little further, “Do you want to try a different school where it might not be as hard?” Almost as quickly as he had responded to my first question, he said “No. I love my school and my friends. I want to stay.” I went on to tell him that if he wanted to stay, he would have to be willing to work with the Speech Language Pathologist, he would have to continue tutoring with the reading specialist, and he would have to work extra hard to keep up. He sat quietly for a second, looked right at me, and said, “That’s ok mommy. I want to work hard to stay with my friends”.
If He Is Willing To Fight, Then So Am I
I was honestly in awe. For a child who is only 6 to not only understand but also be willing to struggle and fight for what they want is amazing to me. It is SCARY to know you may fail, but still be willing to try. Heck, there are some adults who struggle to find that type of determination in the face of adversity (myself included). I went home and told my husband, “We’re not moving him. If he is willing to try, then we have to give him that opportunity.” My husband agreed, and so it was decided.
We would let him stay at his current school, regardless of the fact that he will likely continue to struggle. Because here is the thing….LIFE IS HARD. Life doesn’t offer endless accommodations. It doesn’t care if you have a disorder or different challenges than everyone else. And if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that life will often throw you curveballs when you are already 2 strikes in.
Failure…The Great Teacher
Will he make the honor roll? Maybe not. Will we be celebrating C’s like they are 100’s? Probably so. Will he be mentally and emotionally stronger for it? Absolutely! And isn’t that what we all want for our children? Don’t we all want our children to be able to face adversity confidently and not crumble under the pressures of life? Michael Jordan (arguably one of the best athletes we have ever seen) once said “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Failure is not always a negative. Failure means you tried, and trying and failing are always better than not trying at all (in my opinion). I look back on my life and some of the only regrets I have are from times I was too afraid to try. Because, truthfully, there is a lot we can learn from failure and adversity. We can improve with each failed attempt, especially if we have the determination to analyze what made us fail in the first place, and make the necessary changes to be successful on future attempts.
We Will Carry On
So, I will allow my son to struggle. I will allow him to grow through adversity, and I will celebrate EVERY small victory. I will be there to support him and advocate for him when necessary. But I will not fight his battles for him. It will be challenging. There will undoubtedly be days where I question the path we have chosen, and nights I cry myself to sleep over the agonizing hours of work we put in that day. But ultimately I think it will change us all for the better. I think it will teach us all, and I am excited to see the young man it helps him become.