I’m pregnant again. With my first child, I googled endlessly, finally settling on a carefully choreographed picture of the sonogram nestled between a tiny lamb and baby booties. The lighting was just right and it took longer than I’m willing to admit in writing. This time around? I posted […]
A friend told me recently how anxious she is at the end of each day. After coming home from work, making dinner and getting her two young kids to bed, she starts worrying about what she didn’t manage to tackle earlier in the day. Seeing […]
I log into the school’s online portal to check my 7th grader’s progress report, and it’s like somebody knocked off the first few letters of the alphabet, because there’s not an A or a B – or even a C – in sight. The course roster is populated entirely with Ds and Fs, and I can’t say I’m surprised. Not because my son is stupid or that I don’t have high expectations of him – neither could be further from the truth.
I’m not surprised his grades are in the toilet because I know my son, and I know that school just isn’t his strong suit. Which is why I’m also not that disappointed, because he has much more to offer than his standardized scores reflect. And nobody can see that more clearly than me.
I never expected we’d be at this point, though. When he was little, I figured he’d breeze through each grade. In fact, at one point early on, there was talk of skipping him ahead in school. He read as soon as he could talk, and had a more advanced vocabulary than many adults. He devoured any educational material he could get his hands on, particularly if it involved science. By age three, he could name all the vertebrae in the spine, and tell you anything you’d want to know about carnivorous plants.
If you had asked me back then how he’d be doing in the 7th grade, I’d have anticipated that he’d be at the top of his class, not scraping along by the skin of his teeth and at risk of having to repeat a year (and hopefully only one).
But within a few years of him starting school, ADHD reared its ugly head, and the associated symptoms and behaviors began to outshine his brilliant potential. His inability to focus meant that he spent much of the time distracted and daydreaming, and therefore totally lost; everything went in one ear and out the other, circling through his meandering brain and then slipping away.
Medication worked sometimes, but it didn’t keep his grades from going sharply downhill anyway, and he was yanked from the gifted education program because his dismal test scores “didn’t indicate a need.” It wasn’t so much that he was failing school as that the school was failing him. A classroom setting isn’t the most accommodating place for a kid like my son, even despite the “extra” measures we hoped would help, like letting him sit on an exercise ball in lieu of a chair.
We ended up pulling him from public school and enrolling him in an online school, which has been great in many ways. But no matter what we try, he still just isn’t good at school, and even the change in venue hasn’t magically resulted in an appearance on the honor roll. He trudges through every assignment with the speed and enthusiasm of a donkey being led through quicksand. He spaces out, and when he encounters a test question, it’s like he’s never learned the subject at all.
It’s frustrating for both of us: him, because his teachers are constantly on him to improve, and me, because I know he is somehow, some way, capable of doing better.
But then I watch him tinkering away with his computer, his favorite pastime. At just 12 years old, the kid has a legit side hustle repairing laptops for friends and neighbors – he’ll even make sure all the drivers and software are up-to-date before returning them. He has taught himself multiple programming languages, and it’s like living with the Geek Squad; my husband called him from work the other day to ask how to open a JSON file and ended up getting a detailed tutorial.
The last time I got a phone call from his online teacher, I steeled myself for another chat about his grades. Instead, she spent 15 minutes gushing over the fact that my son had been able to troubleshoot and repair – via code – a connectivity issue that his online class had been having. He even sent her screenshots of exactly what he did.
“I had no idea he was so proficient at computer stuff!” she marveled. But, really, why would she have any idea? School isn’t where his passions lie. All she usually sees is the apathetic slacker who skates by on the barest of bare minimum.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t struggled mightily at times with my son’s underachievement in school, especially since my other kids are at the high-achieving end of the academic spectrum. It’s difficult sometimes not to compare. Would I rather him be a straight-A student who adores school? Of course – if only because it would make things easier on him. I know there’s not much joy in being at the bottom of the class.
But I also know that talent does not necessarily equal achievement, especially if school achievement is not where my kid’s talents lie. I know that there’s a drive within him that’s going to motivate him toward things other than algebraic equations and world history. I know that school might be a necessity, at least for now, but that it’s only a page in a much longer story. His road through academia it may be bumpier than most, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great things on the other side.
So I’ve decided that, rather than stress us both out by harping constantly on his piss-poor performance, I’m going to place less of an emphasis on stellar grades, and focus on developing the things he is good at. I will encourage him to pursue the things he is passionate about – because that’s what’s going to do him the most good. No one is remembered for the grades they got in school anyway, and the greatest gift I can give to my son is to not distill all of his worth and potential into one single, meaningless letter.
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No teacher signed up to be a human shield. There are countless struggles and sacrifices tied to the profession we chose. Low pay, low respect, national criticism, unpaid overtime, the list continues. Fortunately, for most of us, there are far more positives. We see the […]
When I was 11, I started getting acne. Around 15, things got real, and I had to go on medication because my face was starting to scar. I can still remember doing a regimen of prescription creams and pills just to manage my pimples. And […]
“Mommy!” called my son from his car seat as we drove. He wanted something, but I couldn’t hear him.
I turned the music off, rolled up the windows, and repeated “What’s that?” for the third time.
“Unintelligible something or another,” he called again out to me.
Finally, after a bit more of this incoherent exchange that caused us both frustration, I yelled back, “Mommy can’t hear you!”
Just like that, I was brought face-to-face with one of my greatest fears and disappointment: I can’t hear my kid.
I’ve worn hearing aids since I was about eight years old. My hearing loss isn’t anything biological, rather I suffered from nerve damage with no known cause. I wear these tiny machines in my ears because, otherwise, everyone around me sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I’ve always been pretty good about the fact that I have to wear hearing aids because, with them, I get to hear.
However, this disability concerned me when we started talking about having kids. Granted, the concern was minimal, but it was there, lurking like the annoying reality that it was. The worry didn’t stem from passing my hearing loss along, it stemmed from the idea that I wouldn’t hear my kid.
I tried to stay as positive as I could with the support from my family but, after my son was born, the fear and anxiety completely took over. I needed to hear every cry, every scream, every holler. Every. Single. Noise. I couldn’t miss anything. If my husband could hear it, I wanted to hear it too.
My husband pleaded with me to just trust him and leave my hearing aids out so that I could sleep, but I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. It didn’t matter that my son was sleeping in a bassinet right beside my bed, there was nothing anyone could say or do that would make me change my mind. I just could not trust anyone but myself, even though I couldn’t trust my ears. (Make no mistake, my husband’s hearing, to me, is impeccable. I believe he’s got super-sonic hearing, but then again, I believe most people have this amazing superpower. They just call it hearing.)
When we moved our son to his crib in his room down the hall, he transitioned like a superstar. I, however, did not. I became more intense. I continued sleeping with one hearing aid in at a time and introduced the video and sound monitor to the madness that was already brewing. It was bright and it was loud and it made sleep harder for both of us. It made a high frequency noise that I am deaf to but that my husband can hear.
Finally, after six months of being neurotic, I gave up control out of sheer exhaustion combined with the realization that I needed to trust my husband and let him hear for me. I know that my husband wants the best for our son and believes in his ability to hear the child if he cries.
Our son is now three and is becoming more and more curious about my hearing aids. We talk about them. I ask him to not touch or splash my special machinery. I explain to him that it’s actually quite painful when he shoves these electronics into my ears. We explain how Mommy can’t hear and that these are magical little devices help me hear what he hears.
Now that we’ve switched to the conversation-style-dialogue stage with our three-year-old, the stakes are higher and the challenges are greater. Not being able to hear him when he has something to say causes an uncomfortable mix of emotions. It’s frustrating and that makes me angry, which then takes the shape of sadness and finally morphs into fear.
Fear. I’m afraid to miss something important.
No matter. This is my life; this is our life. I make the best of my situation and do my best to keep the dialogue open with my son about my hearing or lack thereof. I lip read, and I’m teaching the boy to look at me when he speaks to me. The added bonus to him facing me is that I get to have a child yell in my face while spit goes flying every time he has something exciting to tell me.
Having a hearing impairment does not impair my ability to parent or to listen. It doesn’t impair my ability to be the mother I need to be for my child. Yes, there are setbacks and there are times the frustration can erupt like a volcano, but that’s all stuff we can handle.
No, I can’t hear everything my son tells me, but I will never stop trying. I’m determined to be the mom my son needs, with or without a disability.
This piece originally ran on Parent.Co.
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The only reminder of Christmas in our home is the fresh wreath that still welcomes friends and family into our home. The fresh, evergreen scent is fading, a reminder that a new year and a new season is upon us. Very soon, we will begin preparing for Easter, and part of that preparation includes preparing our hearts for reflection during Lent. As part of our Lent celebrations, I always prepare a pescetarian recipe to honor this time, and this year, I plan to serve a hearty Seafood Stew Recipe.
Lent is that 40-day period that precedes Easter and observed by a variety of Latin cultures. This time of reverence and reflection begins on Ash Wednesday and ends six weeks later prior to Easter Sunday. During Lent, individuals will prepare their hearts and their bodies through prayer, reading a devotional, and the “giving up” of certain foods. The purpose of giving up certain foods and practices was thought to depict the sacrifice made by Jesus while in the desert for 40 days.
Convivir and Lent
As a second-generation American, my family’s traditions and practices were always a fusion of Puerto Rican culture. Food was an integral part of our holidays and family get-togethers, and such is the case with Lent. In our culture, meat is excluded from dishes during this time, so we substitute with a variety of seafood recipes. It is also common for us to substitute seafood for meat in our favorite, established recipes.
Convivir, or “to live together,” is a sentiment shared during Lent. I grew up here in America, but my parents never let me forget my Puerto Rican roots. It is this blending of cultures that taught me sensitivity, diversified my world view, and made it possible for me to share in the experiences of others in respects to their family of origin. To me, convivir means sharing experiences with those closest to you. Each month, a group of friends from all different cultures gather together over food and conversation, and it isn’t uncommon for us to bring a dish that is representative of our respective cultures. This feeling of togetherness, friendship, and joy is what makes Lent celebrations so meaningful during a time of solemnity and reflection.
Lent-Friendly Seafood Stew Recipe
Even before I could walk or talk in complete sentences, my father would feed me bites of shrimp or fish, initiating my love for seafood. He was the primary cook in our family, the son of a restaurant owner, and it was not uncommon for him to prepare crab legs or shrimp scampi on a whim. Since my mother was never able to eat seafood, this was a culinary experience that my father and I shared, and I still treasure to this day. It is in part because of him, that I often create seafood recipes, including this Lent-Friendly Seafood Stew made with Clamato® Tomato Cocktail.
I picked up my Clamato® Tomato Cocktail at my local Walmart in the juice aisle. Clamato® gives this recipe a classic, fresh, and delicious twist.
How do you celebrate Lent? I would love to share any recipes or traditions you may have. For additional inspiration for your Lent celebration, visit the Forty Days of Flavor site .
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