I'm having a bit of a difficult week and for more reasons than just the illness that befell our home. Instead I'm grappling with (and have been for a couple weeks now) my fulfillment of motherhood. Yes, I know this is a common theme on this blog, other blogs, and throughout life for any parent. That is because it is important
The thing is, kids aren't perfect. They come out all sweet and cuddly, full of potential - anything can happen. They could grow up to be the president of the United States, or they could be a janitor, but more often than not, we picture our children as bright rays of brilliant sunshine, ready to conquer the world as doctors, attorneys, or financiers. Unfortunately, we can't all be those things, and that is what has become apparent in our lives these past weeks.
Luke is almost six and Evie is four and a half right now. I've had parent teacher conferences for both of them in the last two weeks, and well, the truth is that they aren't doing that well. Luke is smart, but apparently . . . and I hate to use this word . . . lazy. I've made jokes in the past that in the high school yearbook he would be voted "Most Likely to Join a Labor Union" - admittedly denigrating the members of a labor union and drawing on the negative stereotype (well, forgive me). But the truth is, the kid will not finish his work. And I'm not sure what to do to fix his laziness. I'm not sure I can. It's gotten so bad that the teacher actually sent home a long note attached to a thick stack of paperwork that said, in short, "This is all of Luke's incomplete work from last week and this week. Please have him complete it and send it back." I sat in shock, staring at the really thick stack of papers. "What is he doing?" I was appalled. I don't EVER remember just not doing my work at school. I was always too afraid of the consequences. Yes, I was a goody-goody, so I can understand if everyone isn't that way, but still, "What the hell is he doing while he's at school? Is he just sitting there?!"
I was pissed. I was confused. I was disappointed. I was worried. And then, I was just sad. I was sad, because what if this is my fault? What if he isn't doing his work because I haven't been at home to stay on top of his education? What if I sent him to the wrong schools? What if I failed to make sure he had access to the very best? Would things have been better if I stayed at home with him? Will things continue to go downhill if I continue to work? But if I ever considered quitting my job, would I be sending him the right message? Would I be doing him and myself justice? Would I even make a difference in the situation or make it worse by coddling him and being there to force him to do the things that he needs to take responsibility for himself? I don't know the answers, but I know it is eating me up inside.
To make matters worse, I had Evie's parent-teacher conference this week and the results were worse. She just isn't getting it. At all. She can't say her alphabet on her own. She's four and a half. Most two and three year-old kids can do it. My little girl can't. She's been exposed to it. We've had her in school her entire life except the first six weeks. She has had the alphabet sung to her at least five days out of each week, if not more. We count, we read books, we play games and do puzzles. And yet, she just can't retain it. We don't know if there is a "learning difference" as they now call it instead of a "learning disability". (They obviously know a parent's heart is tender.) The thing is, and I'm not even trying to kid myself here, she really does have some smarts. I swear it. She has the Moron Test on my iPhone freakin' memorized - and that is not easy considering that she can't read. (if you don't know what this is, click here and see below).
But I still tormented myself with all the same questions I had about Luke. Did I somehow cause this? Would it have helped if I wasn't a working mom? Did I put her in the wrong schools? How do I "fix" this? I'm not sure.
So, the thing is she is young. She still has 18 months until she starts kindergarten since her birthday is in late September. And, we're going to have her tested at the Child Studies Center as soon as possible. If she does in fact have a "learning difference" we can hopefully address it and get her moving in the right direction. But for now, I'm just a little sad for her (not me) that she doesn't get to learn the easy way, that she can't just pick things up the way Luke can, and that she's frustrated when she tries to learn things.
I love these two, wonderful, caring children with my entire heart and I just hope I can do the right things for them now and for the rest of their lives. (Yes, I know those aren't the best pictures of them.)
Sorry for my sappy post, but it is what is on my mind and in my heart right now. Hopefully, this naked baby picture will make you smile.