Sunday, September 9, 2012

letting go in the corner of B&N

We were at Barnes & Noble for a meet and greet with the boys' new k12 teachers and classmates.  The store was a bit chaotic as kids rushed around doing a scavenger hunt that we came in the middle of and my kids weren't interested in anyway.  I waited in line to talk to their teachers and they snuck off into the childrens' section to peruse the books.  I was happy, I was in my element surrounded by books.  And, I love it when they run off searching for books.

We stayed until the open house ended.  We didn't win any door prizes, but I had promised to get them each a book as it was also a book fair for the school.  I had explained to them I would get them each something within reason, which I thought was specific enough.  Any parent of a child with ADD, ADHD, OCD or Autism will tell you, you can never be specific enough.  The boys had their hearts set on Lego Ninjago books.  Which were, admittedly, very cool.  They were also $30 a piece.  I tried to explain to them why I couldn't/wouldn't buy them each a $30 book, but I also explained that I was willing to spend $10 each so if they wanted to share it, we could get it.  Any parent of a child with ADD, ADHD, OCD or Autism will tell you that sharing usually isn't a part of the child's repertoire.  My kids are not bad kids.  They just like things to be theirs, not communal property.  What kid doesn't.  And the real draw to the Ninjago book(s) was that they came with 140 lego pieces and they were definitely not interested in sharing the pieces.  I further explained I didn't come to the book store/book fair to buy toys.  I came to buy books.

The book

Anyway, after about 10 minutes of going in circles about the Lego books, I finally said, "we're leaving, no books for anyone."  Of course, I couldn't just march out of the store in my moment of glory, Baby Sister had to go to the bathroom.  Right at that very moment.  So we head off to the restrooms.  I come out to find Thing 1, slumped in the corner crying.

"What's wrong?" I asked him, sliding down the wall to sit next to him.
"I hate the bookstore," he grumbled, wiping his snot on his shirt--yes, I've taught him well--and refusing to look at me.  "Books are stupid anyway, I can't even read them.  Why would you even waste your money buying me one?  I don't even want to be here.  Can we just go now?"

Whoa.  Stop the train.  It was time to examine the situation.

I am a word girl.  I love books.  I love talking.  I love writing.  I love listening to conversation.  I love listening to music and figuring out the lyrics.  I love looking up random words in the dictionary and thesaurus.  I love the word thesaurus.  Incidentally, so does my 11 year old Aspie/dinosaur lover.

My longest standing dream, that wish-on-a-star thought that I've carried with me for years: to have a library in my home.  A room teaming with books, full of to the brim with the smell of them, quiet but for the rustling of their pages turning.  To me, that is heaven.

For my boys, not at all.  Which I have to admit, makes my heart weep a little.  Books are life for me, not entirely, of course, but they are an infinite treasure of knowledge and insight and hope and inspiration and adventure and fun and escape.  Books are like my constant companions that see me through whatever life throws at me.  I'm sad that they don't have that experience with them.  It's sad to me that because reading is so very difficult for them, they have become a bit jaded by the entire experience.

The objective wasn't to force books on them, it was to give them a little piece of what I love so much.  And to help out the school.  And I want them to be readers.  Isn't that a good desire? a fair desire?  Probably good; definitely not a fair expectation to place on my severely dyslexic boys' shoulders.  I certainly didn't want to give them another reason to feel left out or different or lacking in some way.  I hadn't even realized just how frustrated, how defeated Thing 1 was at being in a bookstore surrounded by new classmates and his teacher and trying to hide the fact that he can't read yet.  He had gone straight for a book/instruction manual full of legos and picture diagrams--a language he is very proficient in--the one book that he could actually understand in the entire store and I shot him down.  I crushed him in a way that I fear other people might.

In that moment, sitting on the floor backed into a corner of B&N, I decided to let go.  To let go of any lingering worldly expectations.  To relinquish the box that society labels 'how children should develop'. I had let go of most of it years ago, but this part, this reading part, this books are the world part, I couldn't let go of, because they are so very a part of me, of my world.   A tear rolled down my cheek as I mourned that part of life that they may never find the joy in that I do.   Then I scooped up my boy in a bear hug, grabbed that $30 Lego Ninjago manual and headed for the checkout.

Thing 1's pretended disgust at dissecting an owl pellet at scout camp this summer.
He was totally into finding rat skulls inside.
"How is it you ended up with two boys with severe dyslexia?" Dr. Rios, our beloved developmental pediatrician, asked me last week.  I sighed and answered, "I'm very blessed, I suppose."  And it's true.  My boys struggle in ways that so many people take for granted and yet, they are so remarkably intelligent in other ways.  They are humorous and candid, compassionate and creative, artistic and poetic in their own right.  They are full of passion, explorers, brave garbage diggers, and find treasure in all kinds of everyday refuse.  They are builders and problem solvers and so distinctly them, each one of them.  Thing 1 is our resident Absent-minded Professor and he sees so much possibility in everything.  He's constantly searching for his next project, sometimes to his detriment because his constant searching leaves a lot of unfinished projects in his wake.  Nonetheless, his gears are in constant motion and often at a supersonic speed.  He is a hands-on learner in a way I can barely comprehend.  And he has fierce determination to figure out how things work.  I hope he never loses that.  Thing 2 is very thoughtful and compassionate and loves to make others laugh.  He has a passion for life and finds joy in everything.  It's contagious really.  He's a schemer problem solver and is always finding ways to adapt and overcompensate for his weaknesses and get around any blockades in his way.  He is our resident lock-picker, climber, prankster, and industrious overcomer.  He has confidence that is through the roof and I hope he never loses it.

Thing 2's actual disgust at dissecting owl pellets.
Dr. Rios' final words of wisdom: "Play up their strengths.  By-pass their weaknesses until they are older and not so emotionally vulnerable, until they have a greater desire to learn those skills and can be pushed and challenged.  And remember they have time.  They may live to be 100+, does it really matter if they don't learn to read until their 15? I mean, especially if they're home with you and not in a public school where the State is demanding they learn according to their standards?"  No, Dr. Rios.  It really doesn't.  Maybe some of you think it does.  Think I'm doing them a disservice by not pushing reading down their throats, but I assure you, it really is ok.  They're going to be superb.

*I tried to find a picture of them playing with their legos to post with this, but couldn't locate one... if it wasn't nearly 2 a.m. I would have made them pose for one so I could... ah, well, owl pellet pics it is :)

1 comment:

Cynthia Isom said...

I love your posts, but once again you have brought me to tears. We are so alike. And the conversation with Thing 1 reminds me of my Monkey. He is so sensitive and so quick to get down on himself. Maybe I should push getting him evaluated to see if there's something else he's dealing with that Ben and I aren't aware of. Hmm....
Miss you, by the way!