Jacob Day 20
I ring the doorbell, staring at the beautiful stained glass window on the maroon door of Jacob’s house. Michelle greets me as usual, but she looks extremely tired. She is wearing her blue sweat suit and looks entirely frazzled. It has been a rough week with Jacob. He has gone backward, worse than before. Math problems that he was flying through last week seem like new information now. He doesn’t understand the concept of a prefix or a suffix no matter how many times Michelle presents it to him. She has tears welling in her eyes. This has been going on for weeks now, with now ups, only downs.
I am sick at heart over this even though I know it is normal and to be expected. Michelle looks like she’s ready to slit her wrists. Once again I explain to Michelle that this is a normal occurrence in the process of helping Jacob overcome dyslexia, but I can tell that she really doesn’t believe me. Her biggest fear of all – Jacob’s academic failure, is back, her hopes flushed down the toilet. I tell her to hang tough, that it will all pass, but she just shoots me a look of disbelief.
I am now a cheerleader, not a learning specialist!
I set to work with Jacob and notice right away that Michelle is right. He seems to have digressed almost to square one. He looks at me with eyes that are “spacey”. He yawns as if he is tired. And it is difficult for him to do any of the activities that I ask him to do. He can barely work and talk at the same time. He wants to look right at me and stop. I continuously redirect him back to his activity
Jacob is in rare form, though. As we work, he starts winding up. His vocabulary continues to impress me, and he keeps telling jokes, making me laugh. He tells me that he never wants to get married. When I ask him why, he says, “ I want to travel around in a motor home. No woman would want to do that. She’d want to go around in a lear jet.”
I explain to him that I have a motor home and that I like to travel around in it. “I know,” he says with a mischievous look in his eyes. “But all I could probably find is a buck-toothed woman.”
I laugh so hard at this, and so does he. He is able to shift easily from laughter back to his assignment. Previously, if Jacob was wound up, he stayed wound up.
We continue with our activities and I have Jacob write a paragraph. I am so pleased that he isn’t reversing any letters. He reads for me at grade level and all is well there, too. Thank goodness he hasn’t gone backward in these two areas.
After we finish I visit with Michelle again about Jacob’s regression. How this is normal and to keep in mind that we are in essence rewiring his brain for proper learning and that there are bumps along the road in this process. She has been dwelling on this, I can tell.
Out of the blue she says, “I get it. It’s like they have an open wound and it needs time to heal.”
“Yes,” I reply. “And you can’t be digging it open while it heals. You have to just let it be.”
We talk about the forward and backward motion this process seems to take – how she is more involved than most because of home schooling him and the value she places on education. Also, she and Jacob are closely linked. When he suffers, she suffers. I remind her to go easy on Jacob academically for a while to give his wounds a chance to heal. I have found that the more these kids are pounded on academically, the harder it is for them to reach their grade level goal.
She has a difficult time trusting in this. It is her natural instinct to know that Jacob is behind academically and to help and guide him until he is where he needs to be. If you are a go-getter, it’s hard to just let things go. It’s time for her to let go, and it is indeed difficult.
As I leave, I think of my own journey with my son so many years ago. Letting go certainly wasn’t in my vocabulary, but I know so much more now. Trust in the process, Michelle, I say to myself as I get into my car. Easier said than done…