Jacob Days 36-40
Each time I arrive to work with Jacob, Michelle seems to be falling deeper and deeper into a depression. Usually dressed stylishly, she greets me at the door in her blue jogging suit. (Oh no, not again!) Her hair is a mess, and her face is pinched. I have seen her cry more than once. I can’t seem to carry both the burden of fixing Jacob and holding her together as well. It is more than I signed up for, but I can’t quit this child. Or his family. I made a commitment, and even though at the moment I want to run out the door and never return, Jacob’s chocolate eyes pull me in. I can’t leave him high and dry. Still, I am despondent with Michelle’s obvious depression over Jacob and what appears to be his lack of progress.
Jacob has taken the biggest emotional dip yet. He is angry, rebellious, and sassy. He doesn’t seem like the same sweet third grader I first started working with, and I feel guilty, as if I have done this to him. He refuses to do the simplest assignments and seems to be back in a deep fog. He is slower to process information and struggles with auditory processing skills worse than ever before.
For the first time in my career, I doubt myself. I wonder if maybe Jacob might be that first child I can’t help. He is an absolute mess, and I don’t know what to do about it other than just plug away with my program.
Why did I agree to this, and why did I get so attached to this family? I know better, but it’s different when you are in a child’s home, the inner workings of their family life glaring right at you, whether you want to look or not.
Somehow we make it through our sessions. Although working on my program is frustrating for both of us, I listen to Jacob read. I take out a fifth-grade reading passage for him to read. I give it to him with trepidation and listen as he reads. He rolls his eyes, like a preteen being asked to do a chore, but he willingly reads the passage.
I am blown away. He whips through the passage with only three mistakes. I test his comprehension and he gets all of the questions correct and I write 100% on the page. I bring this to his attention.
“Look at this number at the bottom of the page, I tell him. “It means you just read at the fifth-grade level.”
He looks a bit baffled by this. “So?” he questions.
“So, that means you are reading better than most of the kids your age.”
He smiles big, deep, and wide. I will forever hold that smile in my memory bank. It almost makes up for all of the other frustrations we have been enduring.
“You’re going to be fine, Jacob,” I say in my mind. Now, if I can just convince Michelle of this.