Friday, March 16, 2012

Ode to my Son

          He makes me laugh, this son of mine.  I’ve always valued that quality in a person, and Ben has it mastered.  I’ve been known to say that if someone can make me laugh, they’ve won my heart.  This perhaps explains why I’ve loved so many of the boys who drive other teachers crazy.  I find their humor, their smiles, the way they cut their eyes at me to be comical.  We can joke together and make learning more palatable for them.
            While Ben had my heart the moment he was born, his emerging wit and sense of humor have merely enhanced and expanded the ways I love him.   His laughter is truly infectious and if he finds something genuinely funny or even just “gets the giggles” everything screeches to a halt while we all bust up – him from whatever he found amusing, the rest of us from listening to him laugh.  Even his sullen 13-year-old sister can’t resist sometimes, especially if she sees me shaking silently with laughter, tears rolling down my face.  We gasp, and catch our breath, only to start up again when his giggles resume.

            He’s smart, this kid.  And creative.  He has the mind of an engineer.  He can draw and design things with precision and detail (a gift from his father).  He can build and invent without directions or instructions.  Cars are his “thing”.  He can name almost any car you see on the street, but his real talent is knowing the expensive ones – all models - Ferrari, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Audi, Aston Martin, Maybach, etc.  He plans on living in Italy and racing Formula 1 cars.  BIG dreams.

            He is coordinated – a natural athlete – this boy.  He can grasp most any sport he tries and excels quickly.  He is spry and skinny – but he can bat, and kick and run and flip and jump – and, like a cat, always lands on his feet.

            He is kind.  Innately kind.  Yes, we taught him right from wrong, good from bad.  We instilled in him the importance of honesty, respect, kindness, and compassion.  But his type of kindness is organic.  A kindness that allows him to sit with a child with severe special needs who is having a rough time and help him settle down – without having been asked.  A kindness that has him playing Barbies with his friend’s baby sister for hours without complaining (too much).  A kindness that I would like to think I possessed, but which is truly foreign to me.

            This kind, intelligent, creative, athletic, funny boy – my Ben, my heart, my perfect son – ALSO has dyslexia and ADHD.

So this kind child – also has a fierce temper.  He is exasperating and exhausting.  He makes
            us worry and he makes us weary.
This intelligent, creative boy – also struggles with reading and math and writing – and
            ALWAYS WILL despite the relentless modifications and interventions and extra
            schooling we insist upon.
This athletic kid – can also lose control and bounce around and become wild, untamed.
This funny, witty boy – also cries and loses patience and becomes frustrated when changes
            are slow to come, when the tutoring or schoolwork becomes too much, when he
            feels dumb and worthless because of others’ lack of patience or understanding.

Yet – we fight – we fiercely fight – Ben, us – to NOT let his difficulties DEFINE him nor limit him.  And really, why should they – when he is funny and intelligent and creative and athletic and KIND? Seems to me a perfect recipe for SUCCESS.

Some Facts About Dyslexia:
• Children with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence – they are NOT slow or dumb
• Dyslexia is not about letter reversals – the root cause of dyslexia lies in a difficulty processing sounds – not visual information.
• An equal number of boys and girls have dyslexia
• Dyslexia can vary in severity
• It is estimated that 10 in every 100 people have dyslexia – that means on average you probably have one or two kids in each of your classes who are dyslexic
• Children with dyslexia are often bright, good thinkers and creative.  They tend to have strong listening vocabulary and excellent oral comprehension.
•  Dyslexia is LIFE LONG and hereditary.
• People you may know who were/are dyslexic:  Albert Einstein, Bruce Jenner, Cher, Magic Johnson, W.B. Yeats, Leonardo Da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Danny Glover, Nelson Rockefeller – and the list goes on and on…

Quote for the day:  There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that
                                      transcends all other affections of the heart.
                                                                                                ~Washington Irving


  1. What a lovely tribute to your son. I love that you didn't even mention his dyslexia and ADHD until almost the end--they definitely don't define him. He sounds like a wonderful kid!

  2. As I started to read your post - I first thought - hey I wrote about my son today too. Then I read your piece and realized YOU had written about my son. My jaw just about dropped. It isn't my son, but it is. All of it.

  3. This is beautiful. I'm beyond words with joy when I see wonderful parents not letting things like dyslexia or ADHD define their child. There are so many people who, not only make their child defined by their "problems", but also make that a reason not to love the child.

    I applaud you and your family. I only hope that this is inspirational for people who find it hard to live with.

  4. What a wonderful slice of your life. Ben's sense of humor is his greatest gift. People need laughter to live--at least I do. Ben is so fortunate to have your as a parent, so understanding, forgiving, and fun. I did not know all of that about dyslexia--thank you for the lesson slice. I have been missing your posts for some reason, and I need to visit more. Take care and laugh again today.

  5. I hope Ben gets to read what you've written about him! He is a lucky child! - by the way does anyone else find it ironic that the word we use to describe a reading/writing challenge is itself a challenge to both read and write? 'Dyslexia' for goodness sake! Why not call it 'Bonk' :-)

  6. Your post today was a beautiful tribute to your son and all of his talents! You must be so, so proud of him. And he is PERFECT...his heart and soul are perfect and he is so very lucky to have a mom like you!!! I'm sure with all his gifts he will make you even more proud than he already has. Thanks for sharing such a beautifully soulful slice!

  7. Thank you. My 23 year-old has Asperger's Syndrome and has pretty much just thrown in the towel.

    You and Ben have reminded me not to give up on him, to push and pull and prod. It's our lives we're talkin' about!

  8. You could have been writing about MY Ben - so I sit here, shaking my head, and marveling at these boys. I especially love: Yet – we fight – we fiercely fight – Ben, us – to NOT let his difficulties DEFINE him nor limit him. Because we have been at this good fight, too - and, because he knows were with him all the way, he perseveres. Thank you for this post - it's made my day!

  9. Just like the Donna wrote, I thought you had written about my son too. He too has Dyslexia. He is now 20. His warm, fun, witty and charming personality is what defines him. Sometimes though he forgets to let that define him and lets the struggles he's had define him. I loved reading your slice! I cracked up when you started your slice talking about boys and their senses of humor, it is so very true. Thanks for sharing today.

  10. What a great reminder this is, to accentuate the positive and to define our children by their strengths, not their challenges. I, too, have a dyslexic son and have tutored countless students who suffer as well. So, they will choose future careers that allow them to use their strengths. Don't we all? One of my son's role models is our friend who is a professional stage actor who also suffers from dyslexia. Other than the occasional audition with a cold reading, his dyslexia doesn't even play a role in his doing what he loves best.

  11. This is powerful writing. Your passion and love are both voiced clearly and strongly. You are a wonderful mom. Thank you for introducing Ben to us. It's a pleasure and honor to meet him in this slice. I wish you all strength in your fight, but most of all enjoyment in the wonderful things in your life.