December 4, 2013

Gifted and the internal storm

This year was supposed to be Yon's year. I was all ready for it to be a difficult year for Yon, with the move from nursery to reception, with having to learn how to read, with dealing with the systems to get the help and assistance he needs. I was ready for it all. And none of it was needed. Because in life, in the end of the day, it never the things you are ready for that hits you. And I wasn't ready to worry about Ron. It sounds flippant maybe, but the truth is he is in year four, it's his second year at this school, he is popular, a good student, he is known and he is loved. Why would I worry? I was so sure that I have nothing to worry about this year. And the realisation that I have dropped the ball hit me like a blow. Like a physical blow.
It's not that I haven't worried about Ron before, of course I have, but this last year was all about Yon, and Ron... I guess he got pushed aside a bit. I guess it's the curse of the "normal" siblings, or the older child, or the fact that there is a whole new world of worry you discover when you have a child with disability that makes everything looks small and insignificant in comparison, or the fact that he is so... Ron, but it really doesn't matter why, the truth is I got used to relying on the fact that "Ron is ok". And he was. Until he wasn't.
And when he had a hard time settling in school it hit me - he is in year four. My options are limited. My influence on the school is limited. My ability to protect him and to solve all his problems is very very limited. What can you do when your child needs your help and you aren't sure anymore that you can give it?

I am not the home-schooling type. I know not everyone thinks the same as me, and I respect it completely, but as for me, I believe children need school, they need the structure, the other adults, their friends and the ability to make mistakes without their mother looking. And to be honest, I don't think I have what it takes to be a good home-schooling-mother. And I hate arts & crafts. But it doesn't mean I don't know what problems you face when you send a child to school. The school system isn't perfect, far from it. And though I don't agree with the lady I read this week who described it as a prison, I do agree that like any system it has to be aimed at the middle, at the "normal", at the "average" child (the brackets are because of course there is no such animal, but you know what I mean). My kids, like plenty of others, do not fall under that definition. The biggest fear I have is that they will both "get lost"in the system. It is easy for a busy teacher to pay less attention to the good kids, the silent kids, I understand that, I was that child, and I'll be damned if I let my children fall between the cracks of the education system.
But then you get to year four and you realise the system is so much bigger than you, it is so much harder to change and to move and taylor to your child's needs. I see it with Yon and the SEN and disability side of the coin, and I see it with Ron and the giftedness side of the coin. It all depends on the school and even more than that, on the teacher.

I guess some of it is our fault. We have this discussion every year, should we or shouldn't we get Ron tested? Should we try our luck with Mensa or not? And we always decide not to, because we fear the pressure it will put on him. We fear his need to be better than everyone, his innate competitiveness, and to some extant we fear the label. Gifted is not an easier label to live with than any other SEN label. And Ron has never missed anything because he wasn't tested, but the other side to the decision not to test him is that every year we start off as "those parents", every year with no exception we start from scratch. It isn't any easier to convince a teacher after a teacher to give Ron what he needs than it is to convince them to give Yon what he needs.
But he is Ron, and until this year we never had a problem with it. However, when you put together a new teacher who does not like maths and football as much, his beloved teacher from last year going to Hong-Kong to teach English, his edging towards becoming a tween, and a rough year around here, what we got was a very long and hard adjustment period that included tears, screaming, throwing things, hitting a few bins, a mandatory "I hate you", and maths mistakes (you have to understand Ron doesn't make maths mistakes. As he put it - "I was born to do maths and football". Maths mistake is like a big neon sign screaming that something isn't right). It all spiralled downward very quickly.
When kids grow up you can't fix everything. We couldn't fix it all for Ron this time, and I guess from now on we will never be able to anymore. One of life's harshest lessons we have to teach our kids is that life isn't fair. You don't always get what you should or what you deserve to. And you still have to go on. One of the harshest life lessons we have to learn as parents is that sometimes it's not ours to solve. Sometimes you can talk and explain and get upset all you want, but at the end of the day - it's his to solve.

Last week we felt he is finding his way back. We talked to him, we talked to the teacher, we talked to the head-teacher, we talked and talked and worried. And I can see it so clearly now when I look in his eyes, I can see the child he was and the tween he is becoming, I can see the rough road we are heading down, and I hope I can see the adult he will become.
In the end, he had to fix it all for himself. He was the one who made sure to train hard and be the only year 4 child to get to play on the school football team (most of them are year 6. Big year 6), and though we did talk to the head-teacher about advancing his maths by taking him out of his class, he had to take the tests they put in front of him, and last week (without our knowledge) they made him do 4 maths tests. One year 4 test, and 3 year 5 maths tests. when two of them were surprise-tests. He passed all of them, and they moved him to study maths with year 5 and promised us that they will build him his own plan. All he cares about is that they will allow him to never use a number-line again.

We couldn't make the school change the winter-play to something that has more then 10 characters in it. We couldn't make them understand that you should encourage children to participate and not audition them as if it's a Broadway show. But my Ron, he never cease to amaze me. I explained it to him, and I told him that though I don't think the school decision is fair it is what it is and we have to accept and respect it. And most of all I told him I am proud of him for trying and doing his best. I also told him that he doesn't have to take the minor part he was promised (in the end he got a part with three lines. Because his parents made a fuss about it). He looked at me and said no. He will take it. And he will not stop auditioning until he got a main part.
Because he is pure determination my Ron.

Linking this post with Small Steps Amazing Achievements over at Ethan's Escapade,
                                    Motivational Monday over at Pinkoddy
                                    #PoCoLo over at Verily Victoria Vocalises 

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