“I had encephalitis contracted from one of the kids in my classroom the year before. It was terrible…” She went on to describe the scans and meds and her stay in ICU, as people are wont to do when they find out that I am a physician.
Truthfully, I was only half listening, trying instead to keep one eye on my son to ensure he didn’t beat the crap out of one of the other kids as they ran back and forth playing laser tag. It wasn’t that he is mean. He is just bigger than everyone else and so very impulsive. When he feels uncomfortable socially, he becomes a super weird, out of control spazz which only makes things worse. If another kid is mean, it mortally wounds him. He will either lash out physically or verbally or be reduced to a sobbing mess.
She was watching her own kids playing calmly in the distance.
“My daughter is starting algebra from the new math teacher,” she said. “She’s only ten.”
I nodded, murmuring to show that I was impressed.
Then, she said it:
“Your son is destined for something great. Perhaps something in science. But it will be something great…” Her voice trailed off.
She was no longer his teacher. She didn’t have to say those words. But she did and they made my heart soar. In truth, I wanted to find a quiet room somewhere so I could have a good cry.
His current teacher has made him his own desk by her at the front of the class. The remainder of the class desks are grouped into clusters of four. He is singled out and isolated. It IS necessary, but it bothers me that he is “that kid”.
He sees and processes things differently, mirror image is just as natural to him with writing as the normal way is to everyone else. He is reading chapter books in kindergarten. His memory is frightening.
Worksheets though are the bane of his existance. His mind wanders and he does not finish. The resulting hour and a half of homework each night is sucking out his soul. He loves to play, to build and create and draw, but there no time for that on school nights before bedtime.
Worst of all, he is starting to recognize that he is different and that truly breaks my heart….
If there is one thing a mother needs to hear it is that her children matter. That they are special. That they can attain greatness. That what she sees in them is real, not just magnified and blown out of proportion by love. It is especially meaningful when your kid is “different”.
Will he accomplish something great? I do not know. Attaining that sort of greatness generally involves suffering. I would rather spare him that. More than anything else I want him to be able to understand and demonstrate kindness, strength, love and to posses an abundance of joy. If he can have these things, his life will have been a success.