Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Son's Struggles, God's Grace, and Dr. Who

I have been in a funk in the past few days. Our 13-year-old son, who has learning disabilities, is struggling in eighth grade. The end of the first marking period is Monday and in every class he has work he has not completed, has lost, has hidden some place in his binder and can't find or forgets to turn in.

This afternoon, I spent about three hours with him after school, going over what he needs to do next. He is so very discouraged, feels so badly about all he has left undone and all he has done and lost. There were tears from him, and angry outbursts from him about the unfairness of the teachers' demands.

Somehow, this afternoon I was graced with deep well of patience, the kind of patience I easily show all day long to class after class of special education students at the high school where I teach but which often eludes me at home.

At school, I'm a teacher but it isn't hard for me to tap into the part of me that is a mom. They feel free to tell me about their trips to the mall, their new video games, their bossy older brothers and the new baby they think is taking up far too much attention.

When I pull into my driveway at home at the end of the school day, I'm mom. I sometimes forget that I am still a teacher too. Maybe it's all the praying I have been doing for our son, maybe it was the decent night's sleep I got last night, or maybe it is just God gracing me with exactly what our son needs, but I am so thankful for the time we spent together this afternoon and the time we are spending right now as he finishes up some work after his 90-minute soccer practice tonight.

Not only was I graced with patience, I also was given a glimpse of what makes our son so delightful. As I was going over to a desk in the family room to turn on the light as the sun was fading this afternoon, I found this.

Later, when I asked him about the drawing, he explained, sheepishly, that he wants to make a Dr. Who movie with his friends and that he is drawing out the characters. Whether he and his buddies make this movie doesn't matter. The drawing and the dream are reminders that no matter how tough and unappealing school is for our son, there is still a place, a very human place, in his heart where imagination and joy are dancing.


  1. I SO identify. I am, perhaps, OVERLY understanding and patient with my students (who, as college kids, REALLY should know better). But when I get home, any patience I might normally have is GONE. I want my kids to perform, and perform well. Our son's struggles with organization and with writing (and his opinions that everything that goes wrong for him is a teacher's fault) are very difficult for me to deal with. I don't, honestly, deal well at all. What I DO is stay on top of him -- like "white on rice" -- and I hope one day he is able to manage on his own. (That day, right now, looks FAR off.) His principal, however, told me "I think parents like you, who are well-educated and expect good work, are often actually well-suited for kids like this, because their challenges require more than what a less-educated person might be prepared to handle." I'm not sure I totally agree with her, but at least her confidence in us as parents (despite our kid's performance) makes me feel a bit better about just how HARD it is to deal with a kid who does not, for one reason or another, do particularly well in school. I LOVE the drawing, by the way. Our children need to be nurtured in the things they do well -- too often, what they get at school is all the pressure in all the stuff that does *not* come easily to them. Elaine

  2. Your son, God bless him. What a struggle it is and then the anger that rises up from so many other feelings. I will pray for him in a special way.

    And you, God bless you. Patience at home and at work can be such different things. At home, the "veil" is thinner, our professional "mask" is not really a mask, not to mention how exhausted we can be from having to be masked in the world. No wonder we snap more easily. I am very patient at my job at church, but at home... It is hard. No wonder it is so hard to be who we are, we spend so much time doing otherwise.

    I'm glad that you spent the time with him in a way that was free of exasperation - this grace is a gift for him and for yourself.

    And the movie, I love this image and his ideas. Mocks celebritys! Hah! So sweet, so smart, so funny, so creative.

    What is it that James Martin SJ said, something like "To be holy is to be who you are." I think that is it; I'm tired and have a lot to do before I leave on a trip, so I won't google it.

    Your son, in that moment, creating not just adapting to the system that is so challenging, is being who he is. And you, in your patience and curiosity, being who you are. God bless you both.

    1. Wow Allison you are amazing, and Fran - beautiful comment. I actually could not have said it better myself. So I will only add this - I will pray for you both, too. And for Fran for being such an incredible person and friend! :) God be with you all...