All Of These Emotions Are Normal: Getting Your Child The Help They Need

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Having the suspicion that your child has a learning disability can be nervewracking. Having your child tested for learning disabilities can be emotional. Getting the confirmation that your child has learning disabilities can be a straight kick to the gut.

As a parent, all we want is for our child to do well in life and school. As they are babies, we dream of the day they get the “Good Reader” award in Kindergarten, make the honor roll in Junior High, and win a science scholarship in high school. We somehow manifest this perfect child in our minds where nothing bad can ever touch them. Then school age hits. You notice your child is struggling but you don’t want to see it. You start to see a trend in their grades, notes from the teacher, chats with the teacher’s aids…but you still don’t want to see it. You even start to see them struggling in the same areas you did when you were in school, so you look away even more. All of these emotions are normal.

As a parent of a child with documented learning disabilities, I went through all of these. Even after growing up in a family where more than one person had documented learning disabilities, I still went through all these emotions. There was no way my child was struggling because there was something “wrong” with him. My child was going to be that shining example of a student. To top it all off, there was no way any of this was MY fault. All of these emotions are normal.

When my son was in second grade, I finally put my emotions aside and stepped up to the plate. I had to do something to help my son. I was scared shitless and had no idea what steps I really needed to take. All I knew is I had to start somewhere. I advocated for him during parent-teacher conferences and finally convinced the school to test him. Yes, I had to CONVINCE the school. That was the first moment of clarity I had through the whole processes. That moment when I realized no one else had my son’s best interest at heart. No one else was going to figure out how to make learning better for him. No one else was going to get him the help he needed. It was up to me to make all this happen. *insert superhero music*

Even with this moment of clarity and the sudden superhero feeling, nothing could prepare me for when they gave me the test results. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I’m pretty sure I just sat there staring at the teachers sitting at the table with me. This one of the few times in my life I was actually speechless. They went over what the different results meant and what measures would be taken to help him overcome these issues.

In my mind, I desperately tried to find the reasoning behind all of this. Was it something I did while I was pregnant? Was it because I wasn’t a stay-at-home-mom when he was a baby? Did I not breastfeed him long enough? Did vaccines do this? Did my divorce cause this? I wanted a reason all of this happened, but there wasn’t one. All of these emotions are normal.

At first, I met with the school twice a year. Once in the fall, once in the spring. We combed through each aspect of his Individual Education Plan (IEP) with a fine-toothed comb. Everything he did was monitored and measured. He had certain times set aside each day to meet with different specialists. They helped him with his language deficiencies and worked with him on coping with his color blindness.

Initially, I was worried he would start to feel singled out from being pulled out of the classroom. As a young boy who often came home feeling like his classmates were laughing at him because he couldn’t read as fast as them, having him taken out of the classroom was a major concern for me. Luckily, he ended up finding comfort in the space away from the other students. There he didn’t feel pressured and could take the time he needed. As the years have gone by, his need for additional help has dropped off a bit. Instead of leaving the classroom several times a day, now he only leaves once. He is more confident in his abilities, making it easier for him to ask questions in class and ask for additional help when he needs it.

It has become so much like second nature to him, the other day he asked me why he even needs an IEP anymore. I explained to him that it’s what enables him to have extended testing times, the extra help with reading comprehension, and other parts he had “forgotten” were only applicable to him. We talked about his different deficiencies and how they make his learning style unique and how it will affect him all through his school years. I told him his IEP will follow him all through school, even if he gets to go to the same private high school I had gone to (a dream of his since he was 5), even through any SSATs, SATs, or ACTs he takes.

He then proceeded to poke fun at his different learning disabilities, showing me that they weren’t a disability for him at all. He realizes that all of this has helped to make him the student he is today. He knows his strong points and what he needs to work on. He is more aware of his learning needs than most 11-year-olds I know and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I’m glad I got over my personal fears as a mother and became his advocate. Even after he looked at me with a huge grin and said, “You know my learning disabilities are all your fault, right? No one in daddy’s family has any of these.” And then I threw him out of the car and made him walk to soccer practice. My response, “No honey, daddy’s family has their own set of issues you’ll learn about as you get to know them better.”

To any parent who suspects their child is having trouble in class due to learning disabilities, you are their only advocate. You have to be the one to talk with their teachers and have them tested. The worst thing that can happen is they can find ease in learning again. Yes, it is scary but you have to remember that it is scarier for you than it is for them. They are the ones who have been living with the frustration of not learning the way everyone else does. They are the ones who have been picked on for being slower on assignments. They are the ones living with learning disabilities day in and day out. As their parent, they look to you to help them. They need you advocate for them, to be pushy about getting them tested, to make sure they have all the resources they need to be able to finish school and become a productive member of society. All those emotions you are going through, they are all normal. It’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to feel like it’s your fault even though you know it’s not. It’s ok to cry through all of it. It’s ok to have a moment where you feel helpless. All of these emotions are normal, and so is your child. Learning disabilities don’t make them different or make you a bad parent.

If you suspect your child has learning disabilities or is struggling in school, act sooner rather than later. They will thank you for it at graduation.

 

 

 

Things You Want To Say To Your Kids, But Can’t

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We’ve all been there. That moment where we teeter on the brink of saying the worst thing ever something inappropriate to our children. We get lost in the heat of the moment. Tight lipped, we inhale sharply through our nose as we prepare to let loose on our unsuspecting, yet deserving, child. Suddenly, at the very last millisecond, we pause and rethink our words. Later we laugh at what we wanted to say versus what we actually said. So, here it is, my list of what we want to say to our kids but can’t.

1. Omg! Shut the fuck up already!
2. I swear to god, I’m going to throat punch you if you don’t stop.
3. There are days I wish your father had pulled out. This is one of them.
4. I’m about to put my foot up your ass if you don’t hurry the fuck up.
5. If you don’t eat what’s on your plate, I’m going to shove it down your throat myself.
6. If you don’t clean your room now, I’m going to burn the whole house down. Then you won’t have anything to mess up.
7. Quit acting like your fucking father!
8. Quit acting like me!
9. Holy shit! What the fuck were you thinking?
10. If you don’t do your homework, you’re going to end up an uneducated worthless piece of shit.
11. If you throw yourself on the floor one more time, I am going to throw you out the window!
12. I’m about to beat the whine out of you. Your choice.
13. Traffic, go play in it.
14. There is a black market for children, and it pays very well.
15. Fuck! Just…FUCK!!!

To those of you who just got their panties in a bunch because of this list, get over yourself. We all want to say these things. It’s 100% natural. The key point is, we don’t say them. We all get frustrated as parents it’s why we drink, and sometimes we even hate it. That’s ok. Just remember to keep your mouth shut, count to 10, and say the appropriate thing. Also, you may slip from time to time…that’s ok too.

Cock Swabs and Steamy Penis Creatures

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I thought raising a penis person would be easy. I mean seriously, what’s there to know? Yes, there’s that whole spontaneous erection thing and wet dreams, but I didn’t think it would be much more than that. Now men, before you get your boxers in a bunch, I want to start off by saying women are complicated messes. We are like a magnetic compass, without the magnet. We tend to spin in circles, talking ourselves into a tizzy and crying because little Johnny killed a spider. With that being said, men…are simple. You grunt. You puff up your chests when another man looks at your woman. Do you even lift, bro? You compare penis sizes in the locker room. Girls do this as well, but with their boobs. It’s all so simple, or so I thought. What I didn’t know, is just how fascinated males, as a whole, are with their penises. Not to mention how literally they take the saying, “Reach out and touch someone (or something).”

As I’ve learned in my eight and a half years of raising a penis person, nothing about the penis is normal. Flash forward past the days of failed attempts with pee pee tepees, and watching my infant son pee in his own mouth and my eye at the same time. Past the point where I could trust my little guy to run around the house completely naked without the fear of him peeing in the cat dish. This is where I first started to notice just how fascinated with the penis these people are. There I was, a young mother of a two year old boy,sitting on the couch in the early morning hours feeling like death warmed over, and probably looking ten times worse. I watched as my son, completely oblivious to the fact it wasn’t even 5 am yet, joyfully frolicking about in the living room. I had since given up on drinking one cup of coffee at a time, and wandered into the kitchen to find a straw to stick in the pot. When I came back into the living room, coffee pot and straw in hand, I noticed my son doing push-ups in front of the tv. Baffled and amused, not to mention completely caught off guard, I couldn’t figure out why my toddler would be doing push-ups before the sun even came up. Of course I had also been trying figure out why his little mind thought it ok to be up for the day at 4 am for two years prior to this sudden oddity in behavior. Carry on, dear boy. Finish your push-ups and let’s have some breakfast. Then it hit me, he wasn’t doing push-ups. Oh, no! He was cock swabbing my carpet!!! I can only imagine this was all brought on by a quick tumble to the floor while I was in the kitchen, thus resulting in an unexpected “feel” of said carpet.

I have a vagina. I don’t “feel” anything with it. At least not randomly. It stays tucked away where it belongs. Away from random objects. Away from the elements. Away from, well, carpet. As my son continues to cock swab the perimeter of the living room,I can do nothing more than watch in disbelief. Perhaps this is why people call the penis a “third limb”. Either way, it’s gross and it’s weird.

Flash forward, yet again. Past the moment where little boys discover that nut shots are funny, as long as the shot isn’t on them. Past where they start pitching little tents in the morning, and you question why you have yet to buy them their own alarm clock. Let’s flip to last week. My son loves taking showers. The only argument we come across in the bathing aspect is what time of day to do it. He prefers night because it doesn’t waste his time in the morning. I prefer morning because it actually forces him to haul his carcass out of bed. Because I’m awesome and always win last Wednesday my son agreed to shower in the morning. Win! This is where I should add how he likes his showers so hot, I am amazed his skin doesn’t slough off while in there. As you all know, extremely hot water creates a LOT of steam. My bathroom often ends up resembling the Amazon Rain Forest in summer. It’s any wonder my son can safely climb out of the shower when finished, seeing as how one can barely see the edge of the tub through the steam.

I’m used to my son taking long showers. He likes to stay in to the point where the water starts to turn cold, and he knows he can’t go on any longer without the fear of sudden hypothermia. In all honesty, if I wasn’t the one paying the bill, I would probably do the same thing. However, this past Wednesday, something was off. Yes, his shower used all the hot water in the town, but for some reason he wasn’t coming out of the bathroom. I thought maybe I had a bad mom moment, and missed the sound of a dangerous fall, or perhaps the steam had swallowed him whole. So, yes, I had a slight moment of panic. I ran upstairs, threw open the door…..right into my son’s face! “Theo!” I said, “what are you doing?”

“Mommy! Nothing!” He then quickly wrapped himself back up in his over sized towel, and scurried out of the bathroom, throwing the door the rest of the way open. As soon as he was out of sight, I peeked around the back of the door to where he had been standing, naked. As I looked at the full length mirror, covered in condensation, I could see little marks all covering the area about where my son’s waist would be. Upon closer inspection I could see that the little marks were actually little penises. My dear sweet boy had been standing naked in the nice warm bathroom pressing his little penis against the mirror, so he could feel the coolness of the reflective surface and then get a chuckle out of the little shapes that resulted.

It is clear to me now that the need to stick penises places and feel things on it starts at a very early age. I can only imagine what else in my house has been cock swabbed and stamped. God help me when he figures out what masturbation is, and locks himself into his bedroom for hours. Boys are gross, boys are weird, and I am officially baffled by this thing called a penis.