I was working on another post for this week, but am putting it aside to share a struggle that is going on right now. My kids are in their second full week of school and classes are just starting to get in gear with homework. Stephen is in the ninth grade this year and is a bit nervous about starting high school. We met with Stephen’s teachers informally last week and felt really good about the meeting. They were very attentive as we described Stephen’s strengths and weaknesses. We were familiar with most of them from our older son and praised them for the work they do. My husband and I both left the meeting feeling very optimistic about the upcoming year.
Today Stephen asked me to help him with his English homework. I will tell you that English is the least favored subject of most, if not all, of my children. When I heard that the subject of the assignment was a summer reading book I had to tell him I wouldn’t be able to help because I hadn’t read the book. He struggled with the assignment for an hour before he came to me (approaching his bedtime) and said he couldn’t do it. I looked at the assignment and felt so sorry for him. It was a hard assignment—at least it looked hard to me, someone who hadn’t read the book. He was to find quotes and say what they said about the character’s character traits then come up with a symbol he could illustrate which would help define the character.
When I suggested to Stephen was that he tell his teacher he is having difficulty with the assignment he said he didn’t want to be embarrassed. When I told him to ask in private he said he didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the teacher. Moments like this break my heart for him. It isn’t that Stephen doesn’t want to do the work. He does. It isn’t that he didn’t read and understand the book. He did. It isn’t that he is lazy. He already spent an hour pouring over this assignment with no progress to show for it. The problem is that he can’t always process the information that is presented in the same way that neuro-typical kids do. And so begins a new school year…
My constant battle is to let Stephen struggle enough to teach him that life isn’t going to be easy; to let him learn to solve his own problems, because he needs to learn that he CAN do it; to let him see that although we love him we aren’t always going to be able to take his pain away. While all of those things are important, I suppose the main goal of my parenting years should be to teach him that God is with him, loves him and has a wonderful plan for his life—including his hidden disability.
My prayer for this moment: Lord, help me not to focus on the day to day struggles with homework but instead to teach Stephen to depend on you to give him clarity of thought and make him a wise manager of his time.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11