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A Conversation With Myself (Or, Life With A Late Bloomer)

“Our son is so behind!”

Behind what? or, whom?

“Behind the average nine-year-old.”

That must be an interesting view.

“No! I mean, he’s behind academically.”

What does it look like to be behind academically?

“Well, you know – come on! I was a classroom teacher for thirteen years. I know what a kid his age should be able to do.”

So you’re unhappy you didn’t send him to school?

“Absolutely not! You know I’m not. Don’t be ridiculous.”

[Silence.]

“I mean, he’s three grade levels behind in reading.”

I thought you didn’t believe in grade levels.

“Yeah, well…it’s just that I was reading by age four, and my husband by age five. And he was even ADD and is mildly dyslexic. Not that anybody knew that back in the 1970’s.”

And you think your child missed the gene.

“Uh, YEA-AH!”

So you think your son is an idiot.

“I never said that!”

He’s two bricks short of a wall.

“Hey, now, our son is darn smart! He could tell you a heavy bookful of information about a variety of animals. And you should see the things he makes out of Legos. I think he may even draw better than I did at that age.”

But you’re worried about his reading.

“A bit. We’re making progress, but it’s SO-O-O slow.”

So when you were a kid, you understood everything the moment it was taught you.

“No. The teachers tried to teach subtracting with zeroes and long division using New Math, and I totally didn’t get it. They thought I was stupid in math because I couldn’t do it that way.”

Are you stupid in math?

“I got A’s in Algebra 2 in high school, and in my college statistics class. What do you think?”

I think that it took you a while to get math.

“…Oh.”

Anything else take you a while to understand?

“This one’s crazy: reading music! I’ve always loved to sing, and I have a strong sense of rhythm (taught my husband-to-be how to dance, thank you very much), but I didn’t understand how to time the different notes until I was in seventh grade. You know, a quarter note gets one beat and all that.”

And how long did music teachers try to teach you that skill?

“I think they started in third grade. Maybe second?”

Four years, possibly five, for you to get it. Did other kids seem to get it right away?

“Oh, yeah. Otherwise I wouldn’t have felt bad about it…oh. I see what you’re saying.”

And I think you’ve mentioned a time or two that you’ve always gotten tired from reading after thirty minutes or so.

“Well, when I was young, I think I could go for an hour. Or else I was just too young to think about how tired I was feeling. But it was down to about thirty minutes by my early 20’s. Now, fifteen, max.”

Is this a genetic problem?

“Yep. Irlen Syndrome. And I know what you’re going to ask next – if our son has it. Yes, he does.”

I hear you saying that he is not only taking longer than the average schooled child to learn to read, but that the Irlen Syndrome might be causing the process of reading to be uncomfortable.

“You’re one smart cookie.”

How is he doing in math?

“Making good progress. At least average.”

You keep bringing up that word average. Is that somehow important to you?

“Well, uh…it shouldn’t be. It doesn’t really mean anything concrete, does it?”

Great minds think alike. Would you consider your son to be above average in anything?

“Oh, yeah. Physical ability. He’s a very fast runner, and strong for his size. He knows how to use a level and understands basic construction, unlike most boys his age. He makes amusing plays on words – on purpose. And he’s a genius when it comes to arguing.”

So, reading is the only skill he seems to struggle with?

“Yeah, I guess so.”

But he’s making some progress, albeit slow.

“Yes.”

I’m failing to see a real problem here.

“Uh, my niece reads several grade levels above him even though she’s younger and I’m generally afraid that my friends and family will think I’ve done a pathetic job at homeschooling?”

I see. So, you’re self-conscious, self-centered and walking in the fear you keep telling your blog readers to get rid of.

“Hey, wait a minute…uh, well, I guess so.”

Again, is there a real problem with your son’s academic ability?

“You genius, you. Of course there isn’t. Just with his silly ol’ mama…”

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