The Elephant In The Room Was Dyslexia

Tears. Last year was the year of tears.

It was the year of me secretly wishing he would actually, really want to go to “real” school and actually really like it.

It was also the year I knew he could not actually go to real school because I knew he could not read.

Last year we fought and bargained and lost hours of potential fun to no fun. Not any.

It was the first year we didn’t run off to the Botanic Gardens or the forest preserve just for the heck of it.

It was the first year we never had time to do fun science experiments because we couldn’t get through any lesson that involved reading.

I would say, “We will sit here until you read this.” And he would say, “Fine.” And 4 hours later it would be time to make dinner and we would be sitting there staring daggers at each other.

Last year, other wonderful, homeschooling moms, would say, “Don’t worry, he’ll read when he’s ready.”

Last year, I knew that wasn’t true.

Last year, I said things in exasperation like, “Come on Isaiah, just try!” and “You know how to spell that, we just did it!” and “I am not going to read this for you, I know you can do it.”

And yet, I knew he couldn’t. I knew he couldn’t but I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe it was my fault, that I had failed as a teacher. I wanted to believe what everyone had told me, “When he’s ready, it will click.”

It did not click.

Last year, there was an elephant in the living room, and that elephant was Dyslexia.

This year, with a new school year looming, denial was no longer an option. With the threat of another year of tantrums, and tears, I stepped outside of my comfort zone to seek an answer. I believed I saw the signs of dyslexia, but my heart was conflicted.

This year, began with an apology. “Isaiah, I am so sorry for all of the times I pushed you to read when you couldn’t. I want you to know that it is not your fault, it was not because you weren’t smart enough. You are so brilliant in so many ways, but your brain is missing the decoder for reading words that are written on paper. It is because you are so amazing and talented that I thought you should be able to read.”

“Mommy, I wish you had tried to find out that I was dyslexic earlier. I wish that you would have thought of it before. It was so hard for me when you would make me try to read, and I just couldn’t. But you wouldn’t let me not read. I was so mad at you for not helping me.”

“I know baby, I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say, except this year will be different. This year we will get back to doing the things we loved so much in homeschooling. We will do crafts again, and go on field trips, I will read you your math questions and it will be so much more fun.”

Already, I felt he was on to something else. “You know mommy? There should be some sort of invention, a computer program that has children read, and listens to them read. It should know, just how they are reading, and it will say to their mommy (in a computer voice) ‘This child has dyslexia.’ You know what mommy? Maybe with my amazing inventor brain, I will invent something that will help kids with dyslexia, something that will help parents know sooner. What do you think about that?”

“Well, I think that is a brilliant idea, and I know you can do it.”

dyslexic computer

Aside: My heart was breaking as I had this conversation with Isaiah. It made me realize how misguided I was as I held on to that notion that he would read when he was ready. It was this, “I wish you had figured out that I was Dyslexic earlier.” If for no other reason, than to know, if you are even wondering why your child is a late, or reluctant reader. Please, have him or her tested.

5 thoughts on “The Elephant In The Room Was Dyslexia

  1. This is EXACTLY what I experienced with my son. I can still hear all those moms saying, “Oh, he’ll learn to read when he’s ready.” And I say, “SHUT UP!” 🙂

  2. We were so lucky to have our son at a Montessori school with a very observant teacher and an amazing reading specialist. They spotted the problem at age four and worked with him all the way through elementary school. He’s entering Middle School in the fall (our first non-Montessori experience), and I am terrified. But I know we will figure out a way to help him thrive.

  3. This really hits home for me tonight, Jen. Not for Dyslexia, although thank you for the great information and for sharing your heart with us. But I had a difficult evening with my boys–just the normal fighting with each other, etc., that everyone experiences with their kids, but some days you just feel like a damn failure. I know I’m a great mom; I know my boys love each other, but I wanted the day and evening to be hugs and love and not fighting over Magna-Tiles, you know? I am forever thanking God for my days with my boys and also begging Him for another chance to do it right the next day–and a million days more. Thanks again for this, friend. 🙂

    • I meant that THEY were fighting with each other; not that we were ALL fighting with each other, lol. I was just sad that summer’s coming to and end and they didn’t get along better tonight. We won’t have many more of these carefree summer days and I don’t want them to waste them fighting.

      • I love you Shay. I am so glad we are still around stalking each other. And I DO know exactly what you mean. When Isaiah is just pushing me over the edge and I want it to be done, I remind myself he’s going to be 10 next week!!! And he’s not going to want to be my little boy, and it’s going to go so fast and I need to slow down, and not care and be okay.

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