Monday, July 27, 2015

What's on my heart


I am a white woman with three daughters. 
What do I have to teach them? 

I have to teach them to love God.
I have to teach them to respect authority.
I have to teach them to love themselves.
I have to teach them to be kind.
I have to teach them to work hard. 

I am a white woman with three black daughters.
What do I have to teach them? 

I have to teach them to love God.
I have to teach them to respect authority, because if they don't they can become victims.
I have to teach them to love themselves, even when people judge them. 
I have to teach them to be kind, even when someone makes ignorant remarks to them.
I have to teach them to work hard, harder than others to get the same pay and respect.
I also have to teach them how to not live in fear, even when so much injustice is happening to people who look like them. 

I am... 

I am heartbroken. Heart broken when I see the footage of people being treated so wrong by the people who are supposed to protect them. 

I am worried. Worried about how I, as a white woman, can teach my three black daughters to grow into strong black women. 

I am tired. Tired of seeing good people be defined by a few bad ones. 

I am sickened. Sickened by the way our society blames and then destroys the reputation of victims, both victims of injustice, violence, and sexual assault.

I am waiting. Waiting for a day when I don't have to live heartbroken, worried, tired, and sickened. 

I am thankful. Thankful for all those who love and support my family and for those who come out to help others when their is a crisis. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Discovering Dyslexia

Junior Year 2002-2003:

Senora Boulanger’s very presence in the classroom demands attention. She is exuberant. Her energy and love for the Spanish language and culture intrigue me and make me wish I had that kind of passion for learning. She makes learning fun and exciting, but for some reason I can’t retain the information. The only thing she seems to love more than the language and culture is teaching. She is always willing to take her time to speak to her students about class or even their lives. It is my junior year that Senora Boulanger forever changes my life.

Walking up to a teacher’s desk usually evokes fear and anxiety. As I step closer I feel as if the walls are closing in on me. But with senora Boulanger it is never like that. She has the room where we all go to during homeroom and talk to her. One time when I am speaking to her I mention that I can’t really read or comprehend. Finding the words is difficult because I don’t really understand why I am so stupid. A couple days later she gives me something rather odd. It is a plastic overlay sheet that is used on an old school projector, but instead of being clear they are tinted different colors. She tells me to place them over the section that we are reading to see if it helps. When I place it over the pages in my book the letters seem to stand more still. My eyes hurt less but I still struggle to comprehend the words. I tell her about the phenomenon.

Senora Boulanger asks me if I had ever been tested for dyslexia. I am not even sure I know what that word means so I tell her know. The one thing I do know is that getting tested would require my parents to know that something is wrong with me. I am in fear of what might happen if they know I am stupid, not normal stupid but legitimately stupid. Senora Boulanger encourages me to speak to my parents, even offering to speak to my mom with me. It is because of her that I am able to get help. My loving parents don’t react the way I expect them to. I get tested and start tutoring at a learning center after school. The whole time I continue to go back to her classroom to tell her how it is going.

Senora Boulanger was the first teacher to catch my disability and fight for me to get help. 


Abbie, my oldest daughter, is struggling in school. She is only in first grade, but I can already see signs of what I went through. She is continually writing words and sentences backwards, but the teacher seems unconcerned. I fear that she might be like me, too much like me. As Abbie continues in public schools, I grow increasingly concerned. Abbie starts to hate school and her self-esteem is low when it comes to reading. I can understand how she feels. She feels stupid and it is all my fault, because she got it from me. During her summer break, the hubby says I can pull her from school to homeschool her. While I am excited to homeschool, I am secretly terrified that my inabilities would forever hinder her education. Can a dyslexic mom teach her dyslexic child to read, if they can’t even teach themselves to read?

When talking to my mom, she mentions that her friend Robin works with kids who have learning problems. She tells me that I should contact her. I send her a message on Facebook expressing my concerns. She gives me her cell phone number so I can call her and talk to her. She also offers to meet with Abbie to do an assessment. Over the next month, Abbie continues to struggle with homeschooling. While she seems to like it more than public school and is learning a great deal, she is still not where I think she should be. I contact Robin again to seek her advice. She quickly becomes an important source for us. Robin tests Abbie and, as I had suspected the year before, Abbie is dyslexic. While the words brought some peace in knowing that I wasn’t crazy, they also are a little disheartening. Abbie would forever struggle to read.

Abbie begins tutoring with Robin, but I feel that I am learning too. Not just about the phonics, but also about myself. Robin has this amazing way of seeing dyslexia, of seeing me. When Abbie says something “out of the box”, Robin replies with how great her brain works. She remarks on what a blessing it is to be able to think in such a creative way. Each time I see Robin, I feel a little more confident. I begin realizing that I am not stupid. Abbie is not stupid. This is not a curse. We are very smart and are just wired differently. Robin sees us for our abilities, nor our inabilities. Over the next couple of years I can feel the shame and self-hate melt off of me.

Robin was the first person who taught me to change my perspective and to be proud of the person I am, and will become.

While I can never repay these two women for all they have done for me, I hope to impact others in the way they impacted me. God placed them there for a purpose, and they were vessels of God’s love and mercy in my life.