Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dancing Such an Odd Tango

I became as story teller as a way of dealing with the oddness that is my life and the subsequent oddness that dwells in my brain at all times. On a daily basis, I pass as just like everyone else, but if people could see inside my head, I think they would run for it. I am sure this is why I loved Alice in Wonderland as a child; a trip inside my mind is like traveling through the looking glass. Everything that seems right is wrong. I am pretty open and honest about my wackado brain. Sometimes having a learning disability and being a successful functioning adult is empowering. Most of the time, though, having a brain that betrays you at every stop is exhausting. When I am tired and sad and run down, it feels like being lost in an abyss. Add anxiety to that and then add the basic facts of heredity and finally add the fact that my genes could very well have cursed my child.

When I met Rob, he fascinated me. He was part of this world that I had always envied. He was Gifted. From my point of view, everything seemed so easy to these kids. The same kids were together year after year, learning amazing things, doing amazing things. Man, I always wanted to be there with them. Rob has since told me that more often than not they were annoying the hell out of each other and nothing amazing was going on unless, you feel listening to people whine about deserving better grades amazing. Still, I thought that if we had children, we were guaranteed two things: height and smarts. We got: height and huge blue eyes. I've said before that my kids are smart in unconventional ways. Caroline has taken that and the most advanced work ethic and turned it into success.

Lily is a completely different bird. I spent the entire summer worrying about her social skills. I think there has been a great deal of success there. As I battled though this summer, my only comfort seemed to be this idea I had in the back of my head that she was brilliant and misunderstood. I was raising the next Sheldon Cooper. I was so very wrong. School has been so hard for her this year. Things that she seemed to always be able to count on are completely scrambled. For the first time in her life, she is not learning. She is confused and frustrated and stressed. Her mantra this year is "I don't get it." We have studied and studied, only to have her barely pass tests. At this rate she won't pass her state assessments. That means summer school and more anxiety. Each round brings a new nervous habit, eye brow picking (right before school pictures, thank you very much), nail biting, lip chewing... She is a mess. She is happiest here in the house with us where she can joke around and be her goofball self.

Rob and I have managed to create such a hybrid of us:  his introversion and anxiety with my processing and anxiety. We are going to meet with her teacher in January. I have my suspicions (LD or ADD), but want to hear what her teacher thinks. I used to think staying up with her when she was so sick and little was the worst thing, then I thought it was watching her get stitches after she got bit by a dog. Those things were all temporary. If I am right this is not temporary and it sucks. Well, I taught her how to navigate crowds (we managed to go all the way through Times Square at night last week without her losing it), I can teach her how to remember facts, and add, and spell... I think I might need some help this time, though.

I know that I need to look at the big picture. Lily has so much to offer the world. Caroline struggled and is now doing so beautifully. I also know that there are so many more qualities that I have given my children besides processing difficulties. I also know (better than most) that a learning disability does not mean unintelligent. As a matter of fact, I would argue that learning to navigate the world in a different way makes you more intelligent. I also know that most of the time when people find out about my learning disability they look at me in a different light. They perceive me as somehow less or damaged. Actually, I have proven time and time again that I am very smart. I have learned to fight and scrap and stay polite through it all. The trick is to teach Lily to do all of this without being bitter and angry.

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