As a journalist who writes about learning issues, I want to tell parents it gets easier. As a parent of child with reading, spelling, math and anxiety issues, I want to give up my spot in the special needs world. I want to grab my almost ten-year-old daughter up and run, run as fast as I can from this world with its tangled webs of poison ivy.
I want to ignore the email from my in-box from our school counselor.
I want to cover my eyes, and plug my ears, and chant, “No, no, no, no, no” until all of my girl’s issues dissolve at my feet and turn into a pile of salt.
I want to tell every person that told me Annie is going to be OK that she is OK but this road we are on is strewn with nasty boulders and rocky terrain and It’s Not God Damn Fair.
I’ve come so far on my journey of being a mom to my Annie, but when I get the email that says my anxious girl was crying at recess today I know there is a part of me that is still raw.
I want to tell people who read this blog about my girl and me that Annie is mostly happy, and she is learning so much and can read at grade level and is slowly mastering her addition facts.
And then I want to say, out of the other side of my mouth, that this learning disability paired with my daughter’s perfectionist tendencies is more than I would wish on anyone.
I know many people in my life have tired of hearing updates from this story. I also know that anyone with a kid like mine keeps reading, and some of them email me and say, yes, that’s my life, too.
I want to say to parents like me that I’m here, in my office, holding myself together and letting myself go in the same moment. I’m letting the grief wash over me. And I’m writing about it for you. You may be alone in your own office reading the latest email update about your child. Like me, you may be pushing yourself into your chair and feeling your feet on the ground. I am telling myself to stay in my chair and not run up to the school and save my girl. I need to help her learn to save herself. As the school counselor told me last week, “It’s hard to depend on other people when you are anxious.”
Oh, Annie, you can depend on me. But I’m going to work hard to show you all of the other people you can ask for help. That bookmark we have in the dining room about how to solve problems, I want you to wear that on your heart. Ask yourself, “Is this a big problem or a small problem?”
Oh world, this is a big problem, and I ask everybody I meet for help. And I sit in my office and piece myself back together in preparation for the end of the school day. Then I’ll swoop my Annie up, tell her I love her, and ask her how recess was today. I’ll be ready for her answer, I swear this is true.
4 thoughts on “Falling Apart to Stay Together for Annie”
There is so much I don’t know about education. Breathe out. Will you be my private consultant? 🙂
Of course! But you do know you know more about the other side of education than I do? Together we could change education, yes? Yes!
Thank you for writing, and sharing this very thoughtful and moving piece.
This piece is so ‘heartening’ because of your not claiming to have all the answers. Thank you. I see you.
I realize the ink on this piece is not fresh, but my finding it is.
I realize you may have somehow found the Village of support (and a buffer from fix-it, ableist culture) and fervently hope so, and still I feel sad when I think that both you and Annie may be inundated with advice and minimizing/”it’ll be alright” on a daily basis.
I don’t want to join those droves. And I have a resource to share from my heart, which I could point you to online, but I want to apply it with you, to this; I want to show you how it stops people from advising or glossing/glazing over… I hope I might truly hear you as I think I do through your writing, but show you in person — which is what many of us writers (dare not) wish for, in my experience.
I think we are neighbors — I live just 3 blocks South of the Zoo.
If you’re curious to see a game/tool that helps me in my writing, my family relations, in decision-making, and in helping kids with all sizes of problems to both validate their feelings and yet realize not everything lies on the same “Big Stuff”, sweat-worthy scale, let me know whether you’d like to (me) visit.
Sincerely celebrating you,
supportive of and curious for your vision for inclusive education,