I want my son to love to read. To me, reading is a portal to imagination, the mind’s edge, & a new groove of thought. Truly, since I discovered “chapter books,” reading has been a source of pure bliss for me.
But at 8 years old, Jack has already developed a total disdain for this pastime – preferring almost any other activity to the “rigor” of reading. While rigor is not his word, it is his perspective. It takes stillness, concentration, & brain power to grapple with both the fundamentals of reading and the comprehension of the story. Both of which must be mastered before one can soak in the sheer pleasure of the book.
See… Jack was born with a chromosomal disorder that doctors believe is at the root of his speech & language apraxia, hypotonia (low muscle tone), and scrambled motor planning. He has to work twice as hard & long to master skills, and reading is no different. The rigor of assembling the letters into words, words into sentences, and sentences into a story taxes his brain. It wears him out. And God knows he tries – harder than anyone I’ve ever witnessed. Jack never gives up, but still, little comes easily to him.
Well – that’s not exactly true & herein lies the AHA. Little of what our society views as “key” to success comes easily to him. While the hardest worker in his class, Jack has yet to see an A on his report card. He cannot throw or catch a ball, and last year in Cross Country, he finished dead last in every race against 150 other 2nd & 3rd graders. And no matter how many times we drill, he still cannot say the K & G sounds clearly. And reading? It is a word by word endeavor; with the fabric of the story invisible to him as all of his energy is invested in gutting through the articulation & sentence structure.
And yet, he laughs through it all. He celebrates the success of his fellow cross-country teammates with no embarassment of his own performance. He lights up a room with his love and smile, and literally everyone who meets him is touched by his huge, radiant heart. He has amazing intuition – knowing instantly who needs kindness. He always offers to help with the dishes, errands, or gardening; wanting nothing more than to serve and to simply connect with people he loves. Nothing makes him happier than sitting next to you and talking about what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Jack is always happy. Always. And he is always giving. Always.
There is no line on the gradecard for happiness or servitude. There is no line for kindness or willingness to always try full-out. If there were, Jack would be at world class performance. Because he does these things more naturally & better than anyone I’ve ever met.
The point in all of this? Embrace and revel in the magic of your child with total appreciation and honor of their unique design. Build up their strengths and encourage them to feel confident in their uniqueness. Teach them to see beyond the walls of our society’s prescribed, limiting thinking.
We spend so much time hoping for our image of “ideal” – which is often wildly different than reality – that we fail to rest confidently in the beauty of what is. When we undervalue our own gifts by focusing on what we wish we were but aren’t, we shortchange the world our unique impact. And when we do this to our children, we inadvertently tell them they are not enough. That who they are is insufficient. And yet, every one of us has been designed uniquely and divinely by a power much greater and wiser than all of us collectively added together.
We are each enough – just as we are. We are each destined to stamp our own brand of greatness in this world. And we’ll do this with greater ease and joy if we GET that we are perfect as designed. That God’s intention & love for us at point of creation is permanent and everything else impermanent.
Does this mean Jack gets a pass on reading? Nope. Does he still have to work exceptionally hard – going the extra mile to accomplish what some can do effortlessly? Yep. But it also means that I am best leading him when I help him give his own greatness to the world. Challenging him without judgment to always give his best and not opt out of what’s hard. Teaching him to believe in possibility & something bigger than what our world presents to us on a daily basis.
Impermanence versus Permanence. This is worth grappling with.