Thursday, July 7, 2011

When A Sassy Remark Shows Me a Sure Thing

"Mom. Stop blaring your music. I'm trying to read." 

So said our 11-year-old yesterday as he lay on the comfy blue couch, reading, and I sat in the nearby armchair, listening on my macbook to my new favorite music: Iron and Wine. His sassy comment was its own kind of music.

If you know our son in real life, you know what a triumph this comment is. You see, our son struggles with a language-based learning disability. When he was four, his speech was unintelligible, even to me, his stay-at-home mom. The only person in the world who could understand L. was his older brother, who for years served as a translator for him to the rest of the world.

This challenge has not been easy for him. He knows his older brother taught himself to read at age two in the back of the car.  Both my husband and I are former journalists and have always earned our living writing or teaching writing. Books lie in every room of our house; our bedroom closet is filled with books we can find no other place for.

When the public school wouldn't pay for speech therapy ("He's too strong in every other area") L. spent a year with the "magic word lady" who taught him how to speak and taught me how to help him. Later, his small private school offered him four years of speech therapy. Speaking was tough. Reading was tougher.

In first grade, when he still could not make letters form into words, his teacher gently suggested he needed some help. It seems he had taken to hiding under tables during reading time. This tiny private school spent the next four years working with our son day after day after day, one on one (using the Wilson Reading Method) to teach him to read.

The clearest example I can give of the kind of grit our son has happened on our town's sledding hill. He was about eight and the hill was icy, so icy nearly every other kid stopped sledding, even the teens. The hill didn't stop him though. The ice made the hill too hard to walk up. So he crawled.

As we did with our older son, my husband and I have read and read and read to L. We have spent hours sharing with our boys the joys of Mark Twain, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder and so many others. We've shared hours, days probably, reading together, taking turns on chapter books, letting him rest when he tired by taking extra turns.

Yesterday at Barnes & Noble, L. spied a new book series his middle school buddies have been talking about: The 39 Clues. The first book is called "The Maze of Bones" and written by Rick Riordan, one of his favorite writers. "When you are reading one of his books you just don't want to put it down," he told me.

L. read this book on the drive home, on the sofa, in the traffic jam today on our way to Home Depot and back on the couch this afternoon as he waited for his pals to come over for their ongoing Axis and Allies game.  He's almost done with "The Maze of Bones." He has a slew of books he wants to read this summer. If only I'd stop blaring the music.

We're reflecting on simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join today! Link up and then go forth to encourage the two people before you as they walk this journey of intentional living.


  1. It is so nice to read this, Allison. I have a feeling Paul is a lot like your L. I will maintain hope!

    And my girls are OBSESSED with Rick Riordan right now. I've had to actually remove the books from their hands because they will skip meals and showers just to finish the stories. It is THAT good/bad!

  2. Ha! I like Riordan too. He is a former Latin teacher, as is my mom...As an incentive last summer to get him through The Red Pyramid, we organized a trip to the Metropolitan Museum with his buddies. Everyone had to finish the book to go on the trip. It worked! The obelisk is right there, as it is in the book! My husband and I took six boys to the Met. Whew!

  3. What a triumph for him, and for you! This entire post really touched my heart, especially the description of him crawling up the icy hill. What a trooper that boy of yours is.

  4. I love his grit and I'm so glad he's found a series that's captured his attention. Your son sounds truly inspiring!

  5. Oh my - my eyes are filled with tears, what a post! God bless your son, God bless you all!

  6. Oh, his voice is a music to the ears! What a triumph!
    Glad to have met you through the BPM link up. Looking forward to getting to know you. {I'm a journalist turned blogger, too. :) }

  7. Thank you and thanks for stopping by!

  8. This is such a great story of triumph! My daughter ( 4) will likely be starting speech therapy this fall, while not severe stories like this give me so much hope it will one day be just something we look back on, like a ice on a hill!

    Thank you for sharing and linking up!

  9. I loved reading this! I'm so happy for your son and so glad to read about a book-loving family.

  10. Oh YAY, I was so glad to read that your son has discovered a love for books. This post was very uplifting and I was so happy. A lot of people might have given up and resigned themselves to having a son who "had a problem." But look at what yours, and his, relentless perseverance has done!!! Of course, with faith I am sure.

    My grandma was a child librarian, and I LOVE to read and write, as do all my siblings. So you can imagine my shock and dismay when my little girl learned to read quickly and easily, but then told me when she was four that she didn't like reading anymore. Huh? I was terrified. I couldn't even wrap my head around that concept. So I continued to try to live by example and read stories to her and her little brother. Eventually, when she started school she was blessed enough to have GREAT teachers who instilled that love for reading in her in a way I had not been able to. Thankfully she discovered for herself the pure joy that is found between the covers of a good book. Now she is almost 11 and reads every day! Phew!!! :)

  11. @Eden E: That is a great story, too. I do believe that whatever disabilities someone is born with, God gives them a proportional gift. Our son, for example, has limitations but also wonderful social skills, an inbred sense of joy and optimism.