There Are Worse Things

I have this little game I play with myself when things aren’t going as I had hoped. I force perspective on myself. I try to take myself out of my sadness, disappointment, and frustration by imagining something worse than what I am going through. For example, say I’ve got a bad cold and I’m feeling particularly whiny about it. I will take a minute to think about how much worse things could be. I could be stricken with a life threatening illness or dying of starvation somewhere. But, I’m not. It’s just a cold. I will be fine. Somehow, thinking of the worst makes the actual seem not so bad by comparison.

For the past three weeks, we’ve had our youngest son spending his Saturday mornings with a school psychologist doing some testing for a possible learning disability. Luke’s reading and spelling have gone downhill in the past year. Things we swore he knew are suddenly missing from his brain. Having gone through similar issues with our other son, we were quick to jump on it this time around. After six hours of testing and several question and answer sessions with the psychologist, we received some news this afternoon. She noticed that Luke has gaps in his early reading skills. She suggested he needs intensive tutoring to fill in these gaps. If the tutoring doesn’t work, he may be dyslexic. She also thinks he might have ADHD like his brother. She can’t make that diagnosis, but it will be mentioned in her report.

It’s not what I hoped, but it’s not the worst I could have found out. For weeks I’ve been anxious about what she would tell us. I tried to prepare myself for whatever she could say. I have to admit that when Luke started struggling in school like Joe did, I cried a bit. I imagined going through with him what I already go through with Joe. I thought that there was no way I would be able to deal with another child with learning issues. I already work so hard to help the one. How would I find the time, the patience, the energy, and the strength to do it with another child? The thought stressed me out. Luke was supposed to be my easy child. I didn’t want this. I wasn’t sure I could handle it. Then, I thought about all the worse things that could be. I thought that they could have been born with greater defects than learning issues. They could be ill. Worse yet, they could not be here with us at all.

It won’t be easy helping two of them through whatever they face, but no one said parenting would be easy. So tonight, instead of being depressed about the outcome of the tests, I’m just grateful that I have such wonderful boys. They’re bright, funny, sensitive, and sweet. They’re going to struggle in school. So what? We’ll do our best to help them through it. They may never make honor roll or become class valedictorian. It doesn’t matter. We’ll just stick together and do our best. The rest will work itself out with time.


  1. I won’t belittle education b/c it is important.
    That said, it’s not the ONLY thing. You can be educated in any number of ways. Traditional book learning is necessary but only covers so much the world has to offer.
    You all are doing the best you can. That’s all you can do. Like potty training seems light years away someday soon these struggles will be that far away, too.

  2. Just be careful of semi-total strangers that analyze our kids after a 45-minute interview. No one knows your kid better than you. We had a few go-rounds with various learning professionals, and at first tried to take their expertise and advice as gospel. He seems angry. He could be dyslexic based on his reading & writing troubles. The last straw was when they asked us to get him drug tested in case he has an abuse problem. Come on, the kid was fifteen years old, living at home, going to high school full time and playing basketball. He didn’t have time (or money) for a drug problem.
    We get real tied up in their scholastics and want them to do their best, but as Edie said, there are different kinds of education. We also learned there are different kinds of learners. Some folks learn emperically (by taking in data) and some people learn globally (to see a subject in a working context.), and there are shades in between. Schools try to teach everyone everything the same way. We all know that’s the furthest thing from human nature. Just like learning a new board game. Some people will say “Just show me, I can’t make heads or tails of instructions.”, and some say, “Just let me read the instructions, if you try to show me I’ll get confused.”
    The most important element in a child’s wonder years is not school or grades or scholarships or report cards. The most important element is a sense of self and self-worth, which is primarily a product of a home environment. Some parents teach kids without arms, legs or eyes, and tell them they can do anything they set their minds to. Remind the kids there are worse things than learning handicaps, and together we’ll face much bigger challenges in the course of our lives together.

    Take care, and keep in touch,


    1. In all fairness to the school psychologist, she did spend an hour talking to me and six full hours testing Luke. Still, having said that, I’m not entirely convinced that Luke has ADHD. The reading thing we’ll investigate because he’s clearly struggling, and I don’t want him to get passed along from grade to grade with below average reading skills. I do agree, though, that as the parents we know our son best. I also agree that it will all be fine. I know my boys learn differently than other kids. I’ve come to believe that the unique way their brains work is a blessing rather than a curse. Someday they will be prized for their insights and different ideas. Thanks for your comments, Paz. I appreciate your taking the time to remind me what’s important. 🙂

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