I was looking through the “gigs” section on craigslist this morning, like I do every week or so (keeping an eye open for acting jobs for the boy) and I found the following note:
Need a tutor for our 8 year old daughter.
I work all the time and she is too much for my wife to handle.
We need someone who can teach an 8 year old (who has been held back once already) to read and do simple math at a second grade level.
She is not stupid or special needs or anything like that. She is just lazy and throws fits when mom tries to get her to do anything.
Need someone who can relate to a child like this.
Preferably a female highschool or college student who likes kids.
E-mail with qualifications.
Pay is negotiable.
Reading this note broke my heart. I prayed for this little girl. And, yet again, I thanked God for putting the compassion and patience and love and kindness in my heart that have enabled me to care for a child who might have otherwise been viewed as lazy by a different set of parents.
You see, I always assume the best when it comes to my children.
When my children become prone to crying fits and anger, I start to look at their diets and their sleep.
When they aren’t getting along with one another as well as usual, I start to think that maybe they could really use a night with their grandparents or a play date at the park with some other peers who aren’t their siblings.
And when they can’t do simple math or spell at grade level despite our having worked on these skills, I start to suspect a learning difference.
And I look for help. And I seek out testing. And then tutoring, once the suspicion is confirmed.
My learning disabled son may not be stupid. But he does have special needs or different needs as I prefer to think of them.
The idea that his inability to spell is due to laziness has never once entered my mind.
Does he help out with his siblings and around the house? Yep. Daily.
Does he volunteer to serve others and is he always the first to offer to help clean up at a function or a class? Totally.
Is he willing to work in order to earn extra cash to save up for something he’d really like to have? Always.
Can he spell at least at a Kindergarten level at the age of 8? Not on your life.
It has never occurred to me to assume that the reason my son breaks down emotionally over certain academics is because he is lazy. Instead I have always assumed that there was a reason. A real reason. I didn’t quite know the reason until recently (he’s dyslexic, he’s dysgraphic, and he’s dealing with a variety of late effects caused by chemo and radiation) but it never entered my mind that he might simply be lazy. Mostly because I don’t believe that laziness is a real thing. I think that any time a person behaves in what might appear to be a lazy manner it is because he or she is dealing with some other issue… there is always a root cause to the lazy behavior. Perhaps a nutritional deficiency has led to tiredness and fatigue. Maybe this person is depressed. Or lonely. Or feeling emotionally abused or bullied. Or they might just need to be challenged and to find themselves an interest. There are a lot of reasons why someone might act lazy.
My goal has always been to keep assuming the best about my children. To keep taking responsibility for my part in their behavior. To keep introducing new ideas, new ways, new methods until we find something that sticks. Currently my four year old is not interested in learning his letters. He wants to spend all day playing Lego Lord of the Rings and then all night talking about what he’s learning. Instead of assuming he’s lazy, I’ve decided to create a ABC’s of LotR coloring book for him. I’ll meet him where he’s at.
That’s really all any kid needs…. to be met where she is at.
My prayer for the child referred to in this craigslist ad is that some sweet compassionate tutor will see it , respond, be hired, and then proceed to meet this little girl where she is at. Maybe they will learn that she does have a learning difference. And maybe, just maybe, this new tutor will help her start to learn, not only how to read but that she’s smart, capable and certainly anything but lazy.
Stay tuned for more articles on the topic of homeschooling a child with learning differences!