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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What I Wish the Teachers Saw

I know I haven't updated my blog in forever. Life man, life. Between 4 kids, 2 jobs, I ran 2 marathons this year, just so busy. But something has been weighing on my mind the past several days so I thought I'd come here and let it out.
So just a quick bit of background. I have 4 kids, 11, 7, 5 and 2. Child number 3 started kindergarten this year. Child number 1, P and child number 3, K, they are my easy kids. They pick up on things easily, they don't struggle in school, they are friendly and outgoing, they have always been the kids that the teachers gush about, with the "Child is a joy to have in class!". P was Student of the Month in October of this year and K was Student of the Month in November. Pretty awesome right?

And then there is M. M is 7 and in 2nd grade. M struggles with school. She's been behind in reading since they started keeping track(which is actually in kindergarten, but don't get me started there). She gets extra help. She has an IEP for speech issues which her teachers usually use to work in extra help in class. It's been hinted at that she may have ADHD but she's never been so much of an issue where we've felt intervention is necessary. She is a handful at home. She is chatty and easily distracted at school. You know the kid who will talk to anyone in class no matter where you sit them? That's her.
When K came home at the end of last week with her Student of the Month certificate at the end of last week, M made a comment about never being chosen. That's when it hit me. All of the awards ceremonies I've sat through, for academics and character, Student of the Month, math and reading awards, even the lowly Perfect Attendance award, not once has M ever been honored. And that hurt me, for her. I'm not one for generic awards, participation trophies, perfect attendance celebrations. But it pains me to watch her watch her classmates and siblings, quarter after quarter, be recognized for things she struggles with. Here's what I wish people, her teachers, saw.
M has a fire inside her that her well recognized siblings don't. When she wants something or sets her mind to something, there is no stopping her. While her 11 year old brother can barely ride a bike because he's always been so afraid he'll fall, M decided one day at 6 years old to pick up a bike and keep trying until she was riding on her own. You know those commercials and tv shows where a parent keeps their hand on their child's bike and runs behind them as their child finally goes off on their own? That wasn't us. With no parental involvement, she just kept trying and trying and in just a couple of hours she was riding a bike like a pro. She was dedicated and never afraid she would fall, only determined to succeed.
She is a hard worker. While she does struggle with academics, it's not for lack of trying. Being a runner, I've tried to get my kids involved with me when I run. With P, it's usually not worth the whining I'll hear. He'll try to run a mile with me and start huffing and puffing and complaining and dragging his feet within the first 2 minutes. Not M. I took her with me for 2-3 mile runs over the summer while she was on her bike and even when she started getting tired, especially going up hills, she never complained, she just focused and worked harder.
She is head strong and stubborn. Yes, a lot of times I'm not exactly jumping for joy over this trait. She's been demanding and impatient and doing things on her own time, she waits for nobody, since the day of her birth. M was born on the bathroom floor at home because I didn't make it to the hospital. So she's done things on her watch since she was born. But this means she's more independent than other kids her age and sometimes even her older brother. She learned how to make many of her own foods because she didn't feel like waiting on us to do it for her. She's gotten homework done on her own before because she wanted to have it done and didn't want to wait for us to sit and help her with it. She stands up for herself if she thinks she's been slighted. She doesn't take no for an answer.

So as M is looked over for academic awards because of her struggles and her chatterbox ways keep that Student of the Month honor out of her reach, I wish her teachers could look outside of the box, where the well behaved child who follows directions and helps out the teacher and other kids, who picks up reading and does well on math tests sits, and see that this little fire ball has a lot to offer. She's going to break glass ceilings some day. She's going to climb mountains because the fire inside of her burns hot. I have no intentions of trying to extinguish that fire so she can score herself an award, but it won't stop me from hurting for her when she wonders what all of these other kids are doing right and what she is doing wrong.