Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bitter Pill

Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, "I have failed three times," and what happens when he says, "I am a failure." ~S.I. Hayakawa
As parents, we all have our most challenging child. The one who frustrates us, pushes us, and makes us redefine our limits, our strengths, and ultimately plays on our weaknesses. We may love them all, but it's not easy to love them all the same.
Monkey is my most challenging. My enigma. Always changing and mercurial with her likes and her temperament. At times I think I can catch a glimpse of the little girl I knew and bonded with in the first 7 years, other times I think she's a changeling. But the hardest facet of her personality is that she will rarely ask for help. My Monkey will push ahead blindly, or hide and cry, but hardly ever will she ask for assistance. So most times it falls to me to judge when she has met her limit, and needs someone to step in. This can be met with resignation and acceptance, or it can be met with fierce denial and resentment. One can never tell. Whichever the case, I try to impress upon her that having help is an advantage, not something to be embarrassed about. But now what do I tell her when I can't get her the help she needs?
This school year has been a long and challenging uphill battle. We have tried tutoring, therapy, counseling, bribery, and punishment. Finally, in March, I thought we had scored by the school district agreeing to evaluate Monkey. But now it has all come to naught. Our request for an IEP was denied. Again. Instead of feeling relieved that my daughter will finally be able to get some individualized help in Math, I got a note at the bottom of the evaluation that read “We suggest flash cards or other methods of practice to help her retain basic concepts.” Really? My daughter has a 64 average in a subject, and you don’t think I’ve tried something as simple as flash cards?
I still can’t wrap my head around it. They promoted her to the next grade, but with an F. An F. Failure, flunkie, fan-freaking-tastic. I feel like I get an F for failing too. Because I failed my daughter. I told her all this year that she needs to learn to ask for help, because doing it solo while you’re struggling is not the way to do things. Yet, here I go asking for help, and we’re denied. I am at such a loss as to what to tell her. She already has internalized that her effort doesn’t matter because she “just fails it anyway.” What kind of example do I give her when my efforts fall short as well? What message is she left with?
We will be spending the summer blocking this entire episode out of our minds doing flash cards. And hoping for a miracle regarding her placement come September.

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