Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"I'm Stupid"

It broke my heart.  Ben never talked about school until about grade 5, but once in the first grade he just couldn't hold it in.  He came home from school, flipped himself on the couch, and just started crying uncontrollably as I held him.

"I'm stupid", he sobbed.

  It had something to do with Math, I know that much.

It's hard for me to remember now, just how different Ben was when he started off. 

I WOULD say he was handicapped when he was 3 years old.  He obtained special services starting at age 3 for speech, OT, and developmental preschool services.  MRI's snd EEG's were run, and I remember seeing x-rays of his brain in there somewhere.  Those were scary times. He continued to receive Speech and OT for 6 more years.  At about grade 4, his speech was more fluent and no longer echolalic.  Before that time, he always conversed in echolalia, or "tv-talk", as we called it.  He had his own laugh, but he was just as likely to use the laugh of a friend, or someone he heard on t.v.  I lived to make him laugh HIS laugh.  It wa so infectious to me, that I must confess I would do anything to hear it! I told myself it was shared communication, the opposite of autistic communication.  It connected us in a way no other talk could.  To this day, we speak in a special language to each other, not always in words, the primary emphasis being not communication of ideas/facts, but absurdity.  I digress...

Chaoticidealism's post about Autism and Disability made me think of the old days. Frankly, I had forgotten how Ben had started off, so different from his peers. He qualified for special schooling and therapy as a preschooler,and all 9 years in public school.  It seems now we are homeschooling, I"m not always reminded of his "differences". Surely his disability didn't disappear when he left public school, did it?  It always seemed to disappear in the summertime, too...Now, it's like summertime all the time.  Maybe it's wrong to cut him so much slack, but it felt so much like child abuse when he was in grade school, and even at that, it was never good enough.  He might work 4 or 5 hours on homework a night, but up until 5th grade, he never missed an assignment, even though he was unmedicated at night, as he was to stay out of a full time special ed program during the day.  That'd been even further abuse in my give ritalin to a kid for homework when he didn't sleep at night the way it was.  And then, of course, he'd have needed a sleeping pill.



It's a sin.

Everything that was done, therapy/drugs/homework help...was done to make Ben fit a mold he had never fit from the day he was born.  Why did I try so hard to make him 'normal' when he is SO much better at being Ben?  I mean, we were punishing ourselves as well as him, as he is so damn good at being who he is, that, somehow, I do believe he's going to make it in this world! But only by being who he is. 'Cause it's too damn much work to be somebody you're not...not.worth.the.trouble.

I've been thinking lately I"ve been being too easy on Ben.  Mavbe I should be insisting on super high standards like the public school wants but can't seem to get out of our kids, mostly  boys.  I WANNA be a TIGER MOM!

"You could never be a Tiger Mom, mom.  You're too nice!"

And I think of my own mother, who gave me unconditional love, and never asked more than she thought I was able to give.

"You know, I always thought it was a sign of weakness for mom to be so kind.  But  I think it takes much more strength to be kind." And only love is patient and kind.

We as mother's don't need to be mean.  The school will do that for us, and not even on purpose.  It's just what happens when you try to make people something they aren't.


Stephanie said...


I'm not sure I followed along with this post very well.

The phrase "Tiger Mom" isn't one that I'm familiar with, but it doesn't sound to me like you want to be one.

Kindness, especially from parent to child, is in my opinion an integral part to enabling Ben being Ben. Unconditional love, support, encouragement, enabling self-direction--I think those are the things that help to make a transition from the child you raise to the child you've raised.

High standards certainly can be part of it, but through the perspective of "enabling self-direction" those high standards should be mutually agreed upon.

Who does Ben want to be? What does Ben want to do? What goals and dreams does he have? Help him to set and to achieve high standards based on those things and you can be the kind Mom who is also kind of tigerish.

Maybe it's just me...but that's what I want (still at 31) from my parents, and that's what I want for/from my kids. Reach, stretch, grow. Be the best person you can be. But let the individual--not the state, not the school, not society, not parents--choose who that "best person" is.

r.b. said...

I was just amazed that he saw me as kind. It feels like I gripe a lot to me. But I KNOW Ben has changed me for love of him.

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