Friday, August 18, 2017

Dear First Grade Teacher

On the iPod, "Believer" by Imagine Dragons

Dear First Grade Teacher, 

While most kids were worried about which friends  would be in their classes, Levi's only question after I read him your letter was, "Mom, will she know how to teach me?" As I carefully picked up my heart off the floor I simply responded, "I hope so, baby." See Levi didn't walk out of kindergarten with the usual skill set. He wasnt all giddy with excitement the first weeks of school. Instead, he was a mess. He went in crying and came out yelling. We somehow had become the worst parents in the world for forcing him to go. It was rough and horrible and it definitely wasn't the kindergarten experience that I had. It wasn't anyone's fault. He felt inadequate and no one saw it coming. Kindergarten isn't the same kindergarten anymore and it is equally as stressful for the teachers as it is for the kids.  But at the end of the year he came out knowing possibly the most important thing he will ever learn about himself...that he is special. His brain is so strong that he actually has extra cells. The extras give him extraordinary strengths... He excels in mathematics, he is extremely creative and can remember a memory like he is staring at its photograph. He sees shapes in 3D and is an incredible problem solver. But unfortunately words and letters are not his bag. They are in fact his kryptonite.  He once told me that the words on the page laugh at him and call him stupid. 

Levi is dyslexic. 

It hurts me to say this but before we had Levi privately  tested I was starting to feel like he was just a jerk. In my head, I even thought that he might be lazy and just wasn't trying hard enough. I was secretly resentful that he wouldn't sit and read with me. He would never learn the Abcs or even twinkle twinkle all the while his best friend was singing the national anthem. It annoyed me...I had carried those feelings around since he was 3 and now the stress was at its peak.

When the diagnosis came I felt guilty. How did I not know sooner? But all in all it gave me a mission. I set up meetings and public school testing... I wrote emails and letters and became an advocate. It has been a struggle and it is far from over. I am unwavering though. At the end of the year,  I sat at a table surrounded by educators and diagnosticians that had come together to build a plan for Levi and I read this letter to them...

"Before we get started I just wanted to take a minute to tell you all that I'm sorry if throughout this process I have come across as overbearing or rude or even crazy.

I know that you are all working within limits that you did not create and I truly want to believe that you have my kids best interest at heart.

I also know that my kid is one of many, but he is my one. 

I am entrusting him to you. He is not only learning reading, writing, and arithmetic here. He is also learning how to communicate with authority and with his peers. Most importantly, he is watching you to see how you communicate with him and the children around him. And he is at times basing his worth on that. 

He is sensitive and kind...and scared that he is not performing the way he thinks he should be. 

I am not only his mom, I am his biggest cheerleader and his best advocate. So please continue to forgive me when I am overbearing or crazy or when I ask the same question 5 times... And please remember at the end of the day that he is my one."

I can only describe the moment as feeling like the words were coming out of the depths of my soul. Advocating for yourself is one thing but doing it for your child comes from the rawest of places.

So as we are about to embark on a new school year... I am beyond anxious. I spoke with some good friends after meet the teacher tonight some of which have entering kindergarteners and I silently nodded through their worries of if their child is prepared enough all the way to what if their child is not challenged enough and a calm came over me as I realized I only have one agenda this year...  I want my child to love school... I desperately want him to want to be there. Please make 1st grade his kindergarten. Please help me teach him to use his learning differences to his advantage. I want to hear him tell his amazing stories even if he can't get the words on to the pages. I want to see him draw the images that fill his wonderful brain. I want you to allow him to tell you about plate tectonics and the earth's core. I want to see him using those extra brain cells. There is still time to change his perception of what school is and to reassure him that different doesn't mean stupid. There is only so much I can do for him the rest will happen in your walls. 

A mom who is counting on you! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gone in an instant...

On the iPod, "7 Years Old" by: Lucas Graham

So... I've spent the last week revamping the blog. Buying websites and changing titles and writing and writing and writing. But since Saturday morning, I have had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and it hasn't felt right to blog about why my son took a shower with a maxi pad stuck to his forehead (don't worry I'll post this one soon.)

See... On Saturday morning, I woke up to the news that two beautiful, smart, young 16 year old girls (both just one to two degrees from me) died in a car accident just streets away. And there is a third 16 year old girl still fighting for her life. 

Unfortunately, we know too well what it is like for these families... The news takes me back to the night that Mike's brother died. The police phone calls, the drive to the hospital, the room... Yes the bad room that you've never noticed in the ER before because you've luckily never been taken there. The screaming... The crying... The utter shock...The arrangements... The funeral with too many young faces... The sadness... The heartbreak.

The difference this time is that now I'm a parent... Now, when I here about these tragedies I am overcome with fear. How do I keep my boys safe? How will I teach them how easily a night can go from fun to horrible? How do I explain to them that it's not necessarily the highways that are so terrible. It's the neighborhood streets that we drive on every day... How do I explain the dangers of the world around them without scarring them. 

These girls were not any different than I was... At sixteen we were driving just to drive. I can't tell you how many times a group of us would spend hours driving around in circles on the weekends. I'm sure we were going too fast and we probably had the music on too loud. How will I explain to them how dangerous a car is?  Will it mean something if at 15 years old I take them to the accident sights... If I take them to Alpha Road and show them the tree where Laura Welborn died in highschool... Or to plano parkway where their uncle hit a light pole in a sea of grass median... Or now to Mira Vista where Samantha Sacks and Lilly Davis lost their lives. If I make them read their stories and look at their faces...will it protect them?  Or is it all just luck based... Oh G-d I hope they survive! 

When I think about those poor parents having to wake up and bury their children my heart hurts and I feel ill. How will they move forward? I know they will move forward... They have other children who will need them to move forward. I have watched my inlaws move forward. But they will move forward changed... Forever changed.

Please pray for these families and for any family who has lost a child. Pray that Kendall Murray, the third teenager, heals both mentally and physically. Pray for the parents of the world, yourselves included, that we may find both the strength and the words to teach our kids the lessons that they need to know.

Kiss your kids. Tonight and always...
xoxo Amanda  

Friday, February 3, 2017

A New Beginning...

On the iPod "Stars" by: Alessia Cara

A funny thing happened last week...I ran into two of my very favorite people and the question came up...
"Where do you want to be in 5 years?"

As I sat there my heart was screaming one undeniable truth... I want to be these pages. 7 years ago I started this blog. I have ... (Dot, dot, dotted) my way through so many ups and downs. Most importantly the birth of three little boys. Unfortunately with each one it has proven harder and harder to find the time to write, but it has to change. I need to work on this blog.  I miss you and I miss me. 

So I'm here and I want to write! I want to give you the honesty that has kept you coming back for more. I want to talk about how hard it is to have a husband who works so much and what it's like to raise these little boys with my village. I want you to walk with me as I learn how to be a better parent. I want to show you what's for dinner and give you lunchbox ideas. And I want us to FEED OUR KIDS...BOTH THEIR BODIES AND THEIR SOULS! So I need your help... I need you to follow me. I need you to find me on Instagram and on facebook for starters and I need you to talk about me with your friends and to share my posts when they speak to you. The blog will be making a bit of an evolution and I'm so thrilled to be back! Hope you will join me on this journey! 

xoxo Amanda