Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Tribute to Mom

June 2nd 1978 Kindergarten diploma Mom and Jen after graduation.

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would share a few things about my wonderful Mom.

When I was a kid My Mom and Dad got divorced when I was pretty little. My Mom managed to take care of everything even though she was a single Mom. She got a job working for the telephone company and my Grandma helped out with watching me when Mom was at work.

A lot of times things were really hard for her but she always made sure I was taken care of. When I started school I really struggled. I didn't want Mom to leave me at Kindergarten. That first year was a bit chaotic because my teacher got sick and passed away from cancer. We had lots of substitutes so I think my problems kind of went under the radar. In first grade it became more apparent I was struggling. I could not read even simple words or identify many letters.

In 2nd grade I was tested and we found out that while my IQ was in the 125 range I had dyslexia. I started to get extra help in the special class for kids with learning disabilities. It wasn't much help and I still couldn't read very well at all. Mom worked with me at home and that did help. Having someone who was focused on me and who knew me so well made the difference and I started to make progress. I know it was not easy. We both felt very frustrated a lot of the time but Mom never gave up on me. And because I loved her and wanted to make her happy I didn't give up either.

I wonder how many hours we spent going over words and trying to decipher books. She would show me the word how and I would read who. I kept writing my J's backwards and mixing up b's and d's. I couldn't write an S to save my life. I could read the book Whose Mouse Are You because I had memorised it. But I still couldn't really read.

Then one day after so many hours of trying not to loose her patience I read a page from Dr. Seuss's ABC. You would have thought I had won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was so thrilled. I was so happy. She brought me to read to everyone we knew. It was quite the celebration and a turning point for me. Once that wall was broken down, once I figured out the trick nothing could stop me. I started to read everything. In the next few school years I caught up with my classmates then passed them. By the time I started 9th grade I was reading and writing on college level.

Mom taught me so much with her patience and endurance. Sometimes life is hard but you can't just give up. She learned something about herself too. She has a gift for helping kids. She returned to school and got her degree in Special Education. She has been teaching for 15 years now and her contribution to the lives of her students can not be measured.

Teaching Special Ed is not an easy job. Many people who go into the profession burn out after a few years of frustration, low pay and feeling under appreciated. Mom is still there helping kids. Sometimes she has to tell parents things they don't want to hear, sometimes she has to deal with very difficult parents, she is always buried in paperwork and many times trying to teach grumpy somewhat unpleasant children. She doesn't give up but I know she wonders if she really makes a difference.

I know for a fact that she does make a difference. Many of her students will never be able to tell her but her very first student can. Mom you perform acts of magic and wonderment every day. You make the world a little better place to be for kids who have learning differences and physical differences. The fact that I am able to write this story is proof.


No comments: