The school year is coming for us, and my feelings are anything but easy. In fact, my emotions threaten to overtake my summer self and bury me in fearful tears.
You see, last year was a lesson in seeing my child clearly and trying to meet her needs, which are so not simple. The day Annie came home and said a classmate told her since she scribbles she will have to go back to preschool was not really fun. For months, I took the girl to 6 different tutoring sessions. I spent hours processing my own feelings so I could be a better mom. It wiped me out. I grew into a new skin, but this hide doesn’t quite fit yet. And I hardly had to wear this still uncomfortable husk during the summer months.
And I know our lives are easier than most people’s journeys. We have resources that many folks don’t have access to. But emotions don’t differentiate how lucky we are. My base feelings hate this new world that we are learning to navigate as a family. I dislike hearing KK say it would be horrible to repeat kindergarten and listen to the worry beneath her voice as she tells me Annie is going to catch up this year and never repeat another grade. I don’t want Annie to dislike school at such a young age or know that kids often lack empathy and like to poke at anything that stands out as “other” in their fields of vision. Spending a small fortune on weekly tutoring isn’t actually part of a workable budget that deposits money into savings every month. Nope, it stretches the finances until you wonder how close you are to stepping over an edge that you can’t climb back over until you are one of those horrible stories you avoid reading in the news. Discussing your child’s special needs with your partner is never a light conversation.
Se la vive, right? So it goes. So it is. This is our life. And it’s a good life. This morning, Annie and I spent fifteen minutes sitting on our front steps waiting for a friend who will be in her class next year. Annie pretended her friend had turned into several older versions of herself and was driving down our street in all the cars that passed by. Her friend became the tall cypress pine tree that decorates our parking strip. She even became a man and then a dog walking by on this beautiful August morning. Last night I did an alphabet puzzle with her using all the skills we have learned from our weekly reading tutoring sessions. She knows so many more letters than she did last year at this time. Today I saw information about a new book on dyslexia — “The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain” (by Brock Eide and Fernette Eide) — and thought “I might be able to read that book.” Her learning disability has its gifts. Her brain works in a different way and her world view is clever and smart and amazing and funny.
So I am back at lucky: I am blessed to be her mom. I am worried. But I am practicing holding my hands open whenever I get too tied up in my thoughts and emotions. This is Annie’s journey. I get to guide her, but I have to let go of all that unnecessary fretting. We, all of us, will get through whatever the next nine months bring one minute at a time. The school year could be better or worse than last year. It doesn’t really matter what it is. If I just listen to that funny girl we call by so many nicknames with open hands and, by extension, an open heart, she will guide me, too.