Excuse the lateness. Beer on the patio with H took precedence over writing in the blog. I should be in bed, saving this entry for tomorrow but a small miracle compels me to stay up a bit later and record our day.
Those who know us or who have read this blog know that U struggles with reading. Struggles is actually too light for a word. U was a total non-reader until he was eight, and even then he was very slow. I listened to a lot of different opinions on what U's problems were. Some people told me to ignore it. He would read when he was ready. Others told me he had a learning disability. A few suggested that he might just have low intelligence. The last suggestion was particularly hard for me to hear and process. I knew it was my own expectations that fueled my disappointment at even the idea of low intelligence, and I tried very hard to come to terms with this as a possible reality. The academic world is an important part of who I am and I assumed it would be for my children as well. Now I was looking at having a child who might not be able to make it in that world. And less nobly it was hard to be the academic at the party who did not have the seven year old who was reading War and Peace.
In November of last year U had a grand mal seizure. He underwent an EEG and an MRI. The MRI came out clear, showing no brain damage. The EEG showed that he had petit mal seizures and some myclonic activity. He had another grand mal seizure in January and shortly thereafter began meds. Within a month of starting the meds, we noticed an improvement in his reading. Nothing big just small changes. H did some research and found that much of our learning takes place while we're sleeping. Once we enter deep sleep, our brains process what we have learned throughout the day. Umberto, according to the EEG, was never getting into that deep sleep. Now he was and it appeared that he was processing better than he had before.
I did some work with the kids but honestly this was all happening at the end of my pregnancy. I was tired and having lots of contractions that went no where. I did read to the kids all the time (as did H) but we didn't do much in terms of formal learning. We figured we'd cover ground lost during the summer. I did have U read to me as well. Meanwhile U kept doing his things. He played X-Box, messed with the computer, and got even more into comics and graphic novels. He always had a book on him. In fact, whenever we went somewhere he always had a few comics with him.
My mom started tutoring about two weeks ago. She was using Words Their Way and was telling us he was making rapid gains. She was impressed with how quickly he moved through the lessons. We did some things with him at home as well and I also noticed that he didn't need as much time between lessons to get the thing being taught. Before it would take many lessons and then days for him to process what we were doing. Now it seemed like I gave him a rule and he just knew it.
Today we got a surprise in the mail. We don't often get those so we were very excited to see a note that we had a package waiting from my friend Phil (Uncle Phil to my kids). H picked up on his way back from the gym and we happily tore into it. The kids were thrilled to get tee shirts but almost exploded with joy when they came across four Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I suggested we could read them aloud as I thought there was no way U would be able to read them. We all gathered on my bed while I nursed R and read a few entries to the kids. After I read, Umberto grabbed the book from me. I had Camille read to me as we were almost done her unicorn book. I looked over at Umberto as Camille read, and noticed that he seemed very engrossed. I asked him to spell "pluck" as we had been working on blend sounds last week. He looked up and spelled it perfectly before going back to his book. I was pleased but still didn't think he could be reading much of the book.
I went to the gym and H walks the kids to the Harris Teeter which has a Starbucks inside. He likes to bring them there to read and chat. H reports to me when I return that U had read the book at Starbucks. U read the book all night. Finally, I can't stand it and I ask him "What's going on in the book?" I try to sound casual not like it's a test and he TELLS me. Then throughout the night he keeps coming over and reading us funny bits. I figured he must be getting something from it because while the book has some illustrations, there is not enough to hold his interest for hours. He is actually reading this book.