Three Pictures

See one six-year-old kindergartner reading a simple picture book. He is proud and happy. He looks up occasionally at the people around him, seeking positive affirmation of this new skill he is soaking up. The adults smile and nod, and he turns back to the page. It’s not all smooth sailing, but he figures out most of the words on his own, no help needed. His brain clicks the sounds into place. He is off and running. He is a reader.

Picture one seven-year-old kindergartner trying to read one three-letter word at a tutoring session designed for children with dyslexia. Watch her guess at a word, and hear her mother and her tutor both chime in and say gently, “No, but…” The girl doesn’t hear, she is running across the small room and flinging herself onto the floor into yoga’s child pose. She waits for her mother to come get her and say the word they agreed on to help calm her down: “Baby.”

Snap a photograph of the mother driving the girl back to the elementary school after tutoring. She turns up 79th, almost there. She is trying not to cry, to stay calm herself for the girl that already has enough on her plate. And, dammit, the Wednesday morning garbage truck is stuck in the middle of her path. She stops the car. She breathes in and out. She is managing to contain her emotions until the girl says from the backseat, “Just drive. Why aren’t you driving?”

So the mom leaks some of the unshed tears out. The girl dislikes this, crying out that she can’t come give her mom a hug right now.

Dyslexia sucks.

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