Those of you who know my Colin or who have read this blog and figured it out, my Colin is extraordinary. His personality is so enormous, his talents are so huge, his smile so electric, it’s sometimes so easy to forget that he struggles in school.
I’m writing this with his permission, and I’m writing it because if you have a child who struggles, I know how heartbreaking it is. I know how you second guess how you parent. I know how hard it is.
I don’t blame Colin’s struggles on our school system. I’m a big fan of our public school system. I really love their school. We’ve been luck; my boys have always had really terrific teachers. But our school system is a conformist society. If you fit in the box, you’re ok. Evan is ok. He loves everything about school. He thrives. Colin’s talents, while pretty great, aren’t an “outcome” so sadly, they’re not valued as much as those that are.
Take for example, Colin’s cooking ability. He loves to cook. He’s a terrific cook. He takes great pride in perfectly frying an egg. He might struggle in math, but when he needs a cup and a half of flour for pancakes, he’ll get me a cup and half of flour.
Colin has this unbelievable ability to say the right thing. Not many 8 years olds have it. When I’m serving dinner he’ll look at me and say, “You da best cooker mom,” or “thanks for dis good dinnah.” And after Dad died and I was driving and trying so hard to hide my emotions that often got the best of me, I would catch a glimpse of my Colin looking at me wipe my tears in the rear-view mirror, his hands shaped into a heart, or he’d say, “I know mamma, you miss your dad.” I mean, how many 8 year olds do that? Do we give that any value? Why isn’t that an outcome?
And my Colin, while he may struggle with handwriting and his organization skills, if only we looked past the letters and focused on the drawing. Colin hasn’t drawn a stick-person in his life. He’s always drawn three-dimensional and they’re quite amazing.
His creativity, well, it blows my mind, and I’m pretty creative. Even his old mini stick, he turned it into a Thunder stick for this spring hockey league in just a few minutes, by taking the logo from their site and adding colours. He even added his name and number. He did this all on his own, without any direction from me, because, well, I really detest mini-sticks.
It’s innate for me. When confronted with a problem, I find a solution. This problem can’t be fixed with a consequence. It needs a solution.
The solution came in the form of a gal named Tara.
Tara called the paper one day to talk to me about advertising. See, at the paper, my job is to help businesses thrive. She needed a little advice. I gave it to her. But I usually tailor my advice to the specific business. I asked he what she did. She told me that she was with Halifax Learning. They were opening up in Bridgewater.
Did you hear that? Yeah, that was the earth exploding.
Shortly after that, she assessed Colin, and shortly after that, she was teaching him. We already see improvements. We already see his confidence growing. His handwriting is improving.
And so, my a-ah moment came in the realization that the outcomes at school and the outcomes in our home are different, and that is completely ok. For his character, his creativity, and his enormous heart, Colin get’s all A’s.