Monday, August 11, 2008

Becoming One, Becoming Two

Our children are so much like us, we look at their faces and see bits of ourselves reflected back. They often act like us, the way that Camille holds a crayon reminds me of the way I hold a pen. And herein lies the great difficulty of parenting. They are not us but it is so hard to draw that line of where us ends and you begins. The intensity of my relationship to my children is a bond that makes it clear to me that the idea of separate bodies can be difficult to grasp. The notion of the individual is too often lost when I lay on the bed holding Piper's chubby little body. And there is great pain in this intensity, in this bonding, in this becoming one because the child does struggle against you as they seek to assert their I into your world. And there is pain because what happens to your child's body has an immediacy that is hard to put into words.

Umberto still can't read. He's having a lot of problems on the most basic level. My mom is freaking out, and her freak has sent tiny shots of panic through me. Does he have a learning disability? Is he just not smart? Is this my fault for the bad way I took care of my body while pregnant? Did I harm him by pulling him out of school? All of this stuff slams into me as I try to sort out what to do next. My mom is pushing for public school even though I know she must be aware that all too often kids with learning disabilities are not often serviced well by the public schools. She's pushing and pushing because she thinks that if he doesn't get identified by nine then it's all over. And of course the chances of him getting identified by nine are small. This process usually takes a year. Of course I feel like she thinks it is my fault for homeschooling.

The pain of letting down Umberto is doubled with my own pain. My own struggles in school haunt me...not being able to read until I was nearly eight, never being able to do Math, and taking Algebra I three times, my total lack of aptitude with foreign languages (there's a reason why I don't speak Spanish people), and my total horrible spelling and verbal skills issues. I remember clearly, likely because I feel like this often even now, feeling like a total failure. I always felt so dumb in comparison to those around me. My successes were so lopsided, and there was always that nagging feeling that being good in one area really did not make someone smart. My mother excelled at both reading and math and pointed that out all too often while I struggled through high school. I always have this sneaking suspicion that in reality I'm quite dumb but that no one wants to tell me.

And now all this blends with my concern for Umberto. I don't want my precious boy to feel this way. I want him to be confident. But I worry that putting in school will do just the opposite. On the other hand I worry that being homeschooled will ruin any chances he has for learning...that I can not give him the help he needs. As I try to make a decision I have to sort through what's my own fears from the past mixing with concern for Umberto's future.

This separating of the us from the I is difficult.


Leelee said...

To one of the smartest people I know, and her equally highly intelligent husband.. are you kidding me? Ginger, really! You are indeed one of the smartest people I know. I was always AMAZED at how eloquently you wrote, and how articulate you were. I would always tell my mom.. you should have heard how Ginger and Sean talked in class today - I wish to hell I could be as well read, intellectual, and well spoken as them. Really I had QUITE an issue trying to keep up with you two!! So that leads me to believe that Umberto is above above above average in smarts, intellect, and intelligence. Some students are late bloomers.. I know this from hearing stories from my mother's teaching in special ed classes. Sometimes, they just need one little way to look at something, and it clicks, and they never have an issue again..
I think homeschooling can be VERY beneficial. Students aren't numbers, and they learn at their own pace. Insteading making the huge ultimate step of public school or not, consult with a teacher in a local school abotu some tips and tricks.. it may be something simple, and once he catches on, he'll be the most voracious reader you ever saw..

As for Math.. NO ONE gets math.. I SUCK at math.. guess what, I'm now a data analyst.. so see blah.. doesn't mean a hill of beans.

Einstein himself made known his major inabilities with math.. so see?

You're doing fine, you have beautiful, overly-intelligent children that will accomplish GREAT GREAT things!!
You and Horatio are WONDERFUL parents..

I hope this puts at least a little smile on your face. Don't forget who you are, Ginger.. I haven't forgotten.. :)


Ginger As in Green Tea... said...

This did bring a smile. Thanks Lisa. And you certainly are a fine thinker yourself! And thank you for the encouragement. This raising kid business is not easy!

Ros said...

You gonna make me test you too? My dad tested my mom when they first got together cause SHE thought she was dumb . . . .

Ginger As in Green Tea... said...

LOL Rosslyn. I have had an IQ test so I know that at least according to a test I am not dumb. I've never been tested for LD though. My dad was in Spec. Ed when he was a teen but I'm not sure how advanced the testing for LD was at that point...

Horacio said...

leelee--thanks for the compliment! and it's nice to see you here.

ros-- yes you should test ginger (and me too, why not?)

ginger-- life IS struggle: struggle is enjoyable or like jose lezama lima used to say:
"sólo lo difícil es estimulante".

Umberto's going to have a blast at school, friendships, anecdotes that will be with him for the rest of his life, etc. ~~the last important thing for him will be, like it was for me and other millions (even you included, i think) the academic aspect of school.

Erica said...

Sending you a big hug.

I know how difficult it is sometimes to make decisions that are not mainstream. And even more when those decisions involve one of your children. It´s easier to say "well it's my life and I'll do what I want" but when people start telling you that you'll hurt your children by doing "x" or "y" then is not that easy because even though it's your child it's not you.

But whatever you do, don't blame yourself. You haven't hurt Umberto by pulling him out of school and you won't harm him either by sending him to school (when/if you decide to do so).