Log in

No account? Create an account
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2012-09-20 05:52
Subject: [cancer|child] Academic parenting in the time of chemotherapy
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, child, family, health
Yesterday evening, Mother of the Child and I attended the first class meeting at [info]the_child's high school. She's a freshman, just begun, in the same Waldorf environment she's been in since pre-K. It was a good meeting, we spent some time with one of her teachers and got to speak to both old friends and new acquaintances among the class parent body.

[info]the_child is severely dyslexic. She was formally assessed about fourteen months ago, but that was mostly a confirmation of what we'd suspected for a while. She is very intelligent and very determined, but the dyslexia can make even routine academic tasks into real challenges.

I've generally been the primary resource for homework help these past few years. And with her text processing issues, she has needed that help, and continues to. At the same time, this is high school, and the beginning of the slow transition to higher education and adult independence. As [info]the_child herself says to me, "I have to do this myself. It's not like you're going off to college with me." So for developmental reasons, I have to let go.

However, I am starting chemotherapy tomorrow. I won't finish this treatment course until sometime next April, and won't be feeling like myself mentally or physically until sometime next summer at the earliest. In other words, I am checking out for the entire school year.

This means I have to let go of my role as homework helper right now. Abruptly. And it's killing me. [info]tillyjane (a/k/a my mom) is stepping into the role in a big way. The school is very interested in helping her, providing [info]the_child with the needed dyslexia accommodations in keeping with Oregon law and Federal law. But she struggles with accepting the help, due to not wanting to be different, and feeling like she is somehow achieving an unfair advantage over her classmates.

The cancer is taking me out of the homework equation. Which is, in the end, probably a good thing. [info]the_child is absolutely right about her need for independence in this. But it's very painful to face in the now. I have to let go of so much as this disease continues to rob me of both my present and the future. Letting go of my ability to guide and mentor my daughter is just one more bitter loss.

Post A Comment | 11 Comments | | Flag | Link

Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2012-09-20 14:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
These things are horribly hard. But you do wonderful things for her, and she knows it.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: joycemocha
Date: 2012-09-20 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can be available as a consultation resource. My change in hours, though, makes it difficult to get down here in a timely manner in more ways than I had thought to be able to help weekly (who'd have thought that moving the schedule back an hour would have such an impact?). If the_child wants to hear it from me how these accommodations help her level the playing field rather than being an unfair advantage...well, we can have that chat.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: cathshaffer
Date: 2012-09-20 14:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That IS hard. May I suggest you replace the homework helper role with a different activity for the two of you--one you can do while dealing with chemotherapy? Maybe you two could take up watching a TV series together, one episode a week, or have a weekly milk shake date, or something. It's not the same, but it might make you both feel a little better.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: stephenstanley
Date: 2012-09-20 16:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay. I am severely dyslexic (was evaluated as an adult, but I've of course struggled with it all my life). If you have any question that I can answer, let me know. Your daughter will have to learn how to live with dyslexia. She can and will. It is a frustrating condition, but can be lived with. It is one reason I gravitated toward the visual arts — dyslexia is actually an asset in visual composition. Not all dyslexics are visually creative, of course. Dyslexia is also the reason I'm a low producing writer. Much of my editing/rewriting time is spent correcting scrambled sentences and clarifying what is meant. (At least we now have spellcheck and the pleasant red underline to point out scrambled words). My young education horror was not knowing. At one point I was put into a special education class and felt so "different" I acted out to an extreme degree so my mother would step in and put me back in the "regular" class. Until I was evaluated as an adult I also thought there was something wrong with me. There was, but it was manageable once I knew what it was. She will NOT have an "unfair advantage". Whatever the techniques and methodology they now use to help compensate for dyslexia will necessitate her spending more time and more concentration, since that is what it takes. She will need to slow down, take her time, concentrate, check her work, check her work again, and try to avoid stress; and forgive herself for needing to do those things. It is not easy and most times frustrating, and it never goes away no matter how well we learn to compensate for it. Anyway, if you have questions you think I can answer (not the clinical stuff, the "how is this for you that might apply to us" stuff), let me know. Oh, and her living with dyslexia goes way beyond the "homework equation." You'll be there for her.
Reply | Thread | Link

Sean P. Fodera
User: delkytlar
Date: 2012-09-20 16:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Letting go as guide and mentor is a fairly natural transition during high school. I'm going through it with my daughter (a junior), though my son (a sophomore) still seems to have need of me in those roles.

From here, the one thing I can say is that you seem to have done a top-notch job in those roles for her. She seems to understand the need for being independent and pro-active about her education, even if at an earlier age than many kids. It is certain that you continue to provide her with an example of how to overcome adversity, and how to make the most of life with a disability. Your role as guide and mentor isn't ending. It's just maturing.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: rekre8
Date: 2012-09-20 18:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have many of the symptoms of mild dyslexia (left/right issues, image processing upside down, etc) without having the reading issues - Mom says it's because of the practice encouraged in my youth. A lot of what you've already done for TheChild is going to continue to pay dividends, though I bet she won't see that herself until far into the future. Go you for raising the independent gal!
Reply | Thread | Link

User: suzan_h
Date: 2012-09-20 19:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, I'm not in your position as far as health issues go, but I'm facing a very similar parenting situation. The best any parent can do is teach their offspring how to make good life choices. But the other part of the equation is letting go of the daughter/son to make those decisions.

You've done a terrific job on the first. Trust the_child to do her part on the second. (Believe me, I know that's easier said than done. *smile*)
Reply | Thread | Link

biomekanic: Lethal lagomorph
User: biomekanic
Date: 2012-09-20 21:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Lethal lagomorph
Yet another dyslexic chiming in here... I also have dyscalcula and dysgraphia. I was originally diagnosed as TMR (Trainable Mentally Retarded) by our school district's staff psychologist, to which my mom said "Bullshit, any kid who asks that many questions (I was 5) about dinosaur evolution is not retarded." I was also the first officially diagnosed learning disabled/gifted kid in PA (somewhere in their law books I am a John Doe). Later research has shown that the two often go hand in hand.

Learning to ask for help is hard, even though I was diagnosed pretty young, and some nearly 40 years ago it's still not easy for me, but I've taught myself to do it. Not asking for help is only going to make things hard when they don't have to be. If she ever wants to ask me any questions about what it's like growing up with a learning disability, and going off to college with one, she's welcome to.

Reply | Thread | Link

User: yourbob
Date: 2012-09-20 22:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Can I call bullshit? You are in no way shape or form giving up your roll as guide and mentor. You're stepping back from homework duty.

I doubt, too, you'll be completely out of that loop too.</p>

The entirety of your LIFE is being her guide and mentor.

Aren't your parents still yours? Not to the degree or in the way they were when you were in HS, but don't they still show you how to behave toward others? How to step forward to help when help is needed are they're able? How to be active in their independent child's life?

Don't think for a second you're not guiding and mentoring your daughter on how to be the best human being she can be, by being the best you can be. Including by accepting help - you during your treatment, her for dyslexia.

And if it helps her, think of the helps she's getting like a pair of glasses. Glasses just even the playing field for those of us with poor vision. The accomodations for dyslexia simply are the glasses she needs to see the chalkboard (or whiteboard) as well as everyone else does.

Reply | Thread | Link

User: martyn44
Date: 2012-09-21 09:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Play a song to her. Simon and Garfunkel's I am a Rock. None of us are truly independent, We all need a hand sometimes. If there is help there to put you on the way to being the most fulfilled you that you can be, take it by the throat and welcome it warmly. Yes, that is the personal experience of my children speaking there. Thinking about you all.
Reply | Thread | Link

my journal
January 2014
2012 appearances