I found myself pondering some specific questions this morning. I’m unsure what the catalyst was to these questions popping in my mind. Maybe it’s the fault of the gremlins, maybe I’m just tired, maybe…I don’t know.
Why am I here? Why is this journey so hard? Why is this community so full of drama? Why is this road so emotionally and spiritually challenging?
I didn’t realize the questions had popped into my head and I was several minutes into my mental exposition before I even realized what I was doing. Lost in my own thoughts, I had followed a tangent that I neither meant nor wanted to follow.
From the moment I set foot onto the path of dyslexia, I felt so alone that as soon as I learned how common it was I knew I didn’t want a single other family to feel what we felt. I wanted to build a community and share what I had and was learning, but more than anything, just let others know they were not alone.
Two different times I thought I had found that community, a place where I could help others.
Both times that community of mine has fallen apart.
In my third iteration of what I hope this community can be, a comment is made that forces me to pause and ask questions of what’s going on and why I’m here.
Being the parent of a learning challenged child is, well, challenging. I can talk about how the school system is not designed for our children, I can talk about the perpetual abuse, the challenging negotiations, the missing accommodations, the lack of services, the resistant teachers, administration, district policies and procedures, even the break down in application of the law and lack of funding. I can talk about all of that to quite an extent, but you know this stuff already.
I can point to the work of Rick Lavoie and talk about the emotional stages of this journey and how each of us is a walking open wound living the pain, stress, anxiety, etc. that our children feel, multiplied with the extra pain, stress, anxiety we carry as parents because we know our children are struggling yet we can do NOTHING to fix or stop it, not substantial at least in the here and now. This is a road we are forced to travel and there are no short cuts.
We are castrated and unable to do the one thing we’re supposed to do which is protect our children.
Each of us, walking around with these gaping bleeding open wounds where our entrails are spilling out, are lethal creatures.
Have you heard the advice to never approach a wounded animal? Yeah, that advice should be applied to the parents of learning challenged children.
So each of us, these walking wounded, we have very little tolerance, patience or acceptance of each other.
I can already see the shaking heads and your thought processes are already rejecting what I’m saying, but think about it, really think about it.
We all rarely agree. We usually feel we know more than the person standing next to us. Some people will willingly admit they don’t know that much yet, and are trying to learn, yet will argue with someone who has a differing opinion about what should happen, or bail out of the conversation entirely.
We are all quick to reject, offer counter advice, say I told you so, build barriers, tear down, cut down, wound. Our individual point of view (POV) is more knowledgeable than the others around us. We must correct what we feel is improper or misinformed and yet we do so under the guise of trying to make the person a better advocate.
The following are recent real and true examples of things that have been said recently, either to myself or others, to show what I mean:
- Your word choice is wrong.
- I don’t like that word so you need to rephrase it.
- Your example builds false hope and you need to be more realistic.
- Your advocacy approach needs to incorporate this, that and the other, but be sure you never do x, y and z again.
- It’s great that you achieved that but you really messed up over here on this thing.
- You’re child is only in elementary school. In Jr. High and High School things WILL get so much worse so don’t think you’ve accomplished anything of real value.
- Your child will hate you anyway so it doesn’t matter how hard you fight for him.
- Your child will be suicidal so it really doesn’t matter how hard you fight.
- Your child will never learn to read.
- So long as you understand you’re failing your child completely.
- Your interpretation of that policy / law / handbook is wrong (without further explanation or if one is forthcoming it’s condescending).
- Parents ask questions about alternative therapies and are usually met with extreme comments like “THAT’S A LIE!!!!!”
The funny thing is we all come together in the social media community looking for others on the same path because it’s so difficult typically to find our peers within our own schools and districts. FERPA is a big barrier used by the schools to keep us from meeting one another. Some manage to form friendships. Sometimes you can find sympathy, maybe even empathy. Advice, whether accurate or not, is always readily flowing. Each person is the expert on the subject and the person asking the question or seeking advice is the poor sod who knows nothing and needs guidance, yet if you read through a string, you will find inaccurate advice, or better yet, it starts off accurate then veers wildly to misdirection in order to support a specific agenda.
I do not believe, nor ever have, that one cannot interpret meaning in written word, i.e. email and social media posts / comments. Meaning is very easy to derive. If it were true that one cannot derive meaning from these things then one could not derive meaning from poetry and books. We know this is not true so why would we claim the other isn’t true.
It is so simple to show respect, tolerance and sympathy. It doesn’t even have to be empathy, but it should at least be sympathetic. Whatever your open gaping wound is, DO NOT inflict it on others. Better yet, be cognizant that YOU HAVE NO IDEA what open gaping wound the other person is living with, or the state of the wounded people who will read your post / comments.
Each person is at a different stage in this process, and knowing full well that the stages are not permanent and can be slipped in and out of, more acceptance and tolerance is required.
So after re-reading all of this, I think my problem is I’m tired. What I want to do is share information, inform, empower, build a community, and change education through a united empowered community. The cutting jabs are definitely getting old.