Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Stigma Be Damned

"But there you give me one - another you just finished
You're my library - always open for business
But you never show it
You're just sitting with it
But I know the score, and you're killin' it
Line after line - when you're taking it in
Time after time - when you try to fit in
To some white shoes, or a blue collar..."

–Arkells, Book Club

When I picked the girls up from theater class, Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 played from our car stereo. Really loud. Probably too loud for a responsible and respectable parent picking up their children from anything school related. Especially since they were rehearsing in a church.

"We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control..."

I quickly lowered the volume and went inside to get them. They were wrapping up another class rehearsing Trolls, a kid-friendly musical based on the popular movie.

The Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) had wanted me to help Beatrice ask the play teacher a question. Bea wanted to know what she was supposed to do after saying her line "Branch, watch out!" when the Bergen scare her.

"Go ahead, ask her," I said.

"Um, what do I do after the Bergen scares me? Fall down? Run away?" Bea asked.

The theater teacher frowned, as if maybe she'd answered this question with every kid in the play at least 1,000 times.

"You run away," the teacher said.

"Thank you."

The teacher smiled, exhausted. The girls and I got back into the car and I asked them how the class went that day.

"Good," said Bea.

"Good," said Bryce. "I really like the singing and dancing."

"Right on. Bea, are you glad you asked the teacher your question? Now you know what to do!"

"Yes," she said, smiling. "I do."

"Excellent," I said.

I turned the radio back on and Van Halen's And the Cradle Will Rock played.

"Dad, turn it back to our channel," both girls echoed. They were referring to the local pop music station. They aren't fans of Daddy's rock and roll.

Too bad. I wanted to rock.

"I will in a minute."



Right before I turned the channel, David Lee Roth sang:

Have you seen Junior's grades? And Eddie Van Halen's guitar riffed on.

And I had recently seen their grades. That sent me reflecting on where the girls were both at in school.

For the most part, they're both doing pretty good. On most subjects, especially science. And on being social. And on being involved in extracurricular activities like sports and theater. All these things are important for their development. We're not pushing them too hard at this age, but encouraging them to try different activities besides focusing on academics.

However, Beatrice, nine years old now, continues to struggle with reading and reading comprehension. When she was three years old, we discovered she had trouble processing the information she heard in the same way as other kids because her ears and brain didn't play well together. It's called auditory processing disorder (ADP). That in turn affected the way her brain recognized and interpreted sounds and how she reacted to various stimuli -- too much stimuli always overwhelms.

We knew then that, no matter how much help she got, there would be future setbacks academically and/or socially. We just weren't sure exactly what and how prevalent they'd be.

Bryce, seven years old now, didn't have the same problem early on, although recently we worried about her reading ability, too. So, it was time to escalate the reading at home. For Bryce, it's been the recognition and pronunciation of words she should've already been getting at her age. For Beatrice, it's recently been figurative language, metaphors and similes and the like, comprehending was she had just read and able to answer questions about it. To also be able to infer meaning from phrases like "reading is as easy as pie."

We've been working on it for awhile now, with the Mama institutionalizing regular reading times for both girls. We read with them in the mornings and after school and every night before bed. We read all sorts of articles and books, have them read to us, and then for Bea ask her questions about what she read, testing her inference ability, her vocabulary and retention.

Both girls are making great progress. Bryce is reading better and pronouncing new words more readily. And as for Bea, she's much better reading and comprehending at home than at school -- literally and figuratively. We know (as does her teacher and other school specialists) that the overstimulation from a myriad of classroom inputs inundating her regularly hinders her ability to understand written instructions in class, and then she gets overwhelmed and anxious, her synapses backfiring on her. Her teachers are willing to give her auditory and visual directions in conjunction with the written word, which we know from experience will help.

Even with the progress they've made, we have no idea what will happen in the next few years, just as we didn't know what would happen when Bea was three. We do know that the pressure to excel will only increase exponentially from all directions, in addition to the stigma of struggle if and when either girl struggles to fit in. But stigma be damned; as their parents we will do whatever we have to do to give them both the tools and resources they need to improve, adapt, thrive and live their best lives.

"But I know the score, and you're killin' it
Line after line - when you're taking it in
Time after time - when you try to fit in..."

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