In school, my brain worked the way my teachers wanted it to work. They taught, I listened, I practiced, I learned. My brother’s experience wasn’t the same. I remember my mom having meetings on the phone, and meetings in person. I remember labels, and diagnosis, and testing terms floating like empty words over the phone and in person. It wasn’t my world, but one I saw vaguely pass around me.
I remember my brother built the best cities and roads with blocks and dirt. He would spend hours creating masterpieces with intricate details that I couldn’t even dream of building. He noticed things around us like differences in police cars, and city streetlights. The world of details was a blur of busy that I could never recall. But in school, I progressed easily, while my mom fought to encourage him to keep trying and not to give up.
I had no way of knowing during that time that a day would come when I would play the role my mom worked hard to accomplish. It’s heartbreaking to witness the fear and anger in the eyes of a child whose brain doesn’t work the way many brains work. The teaching, practicing, learning model isn’t as seamless for her. Instead, she grows confused, and frustrated while her sibling excels at subjects she can barely comprehend, let alone interact with.
She loathes school. So I do what I saw my mom do: I tell her we won’t quit. I encourage her that we will keep fighting. She and I have entered a world of labels and learning challenges. I only witnessed this world from a distance, but now I’m in the thick of it. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want her to be here. I want to exit early, but that is denial, not progress. Denial won’t help her. Denial won’t encourage learning. So we move forward.
Her confusion turns to resignation and she no longer wants to walk with me.
I wrestle with frustration and patience. I didn’t choose this path. These aren’t my labels or challenges, but I am trying, I am fighting. My encouragement turns to threats, or challenges as my patience wears thin.
Her resignation turns to anger. Meltdowns, acting out, educational backsliding moments come one right after another.
I’m exhausted. She’s exhausted. Nothing has changed. We are no further in our journey. I grow disheartened. I see our world as a maze with no end.
But then I remember that she didn’t choose this path. These labels and learning challenges act as her gatekeeper for now. Her gifts are held captive, and she’s tired of being confused, or last to the party.
It’s good to remember. Remembering is part of the journey out. We begin again.
We have so far to go. I have more questions than answers. I change up our school routine. I look for different curriculum. I reach out to professionals. I pray. I pray and pray.
I slow down and study her. I watch her carefully and I notice her gifts and I praise. I praise the One who made her fearfully and wonderfully. I show her the gifts and she smiles. A shy, bashful smile, but not hurting and confused.
We keep walking. We will leave the maze eventually. We will keep fighting. Not a perfect fight. I will forget. I will grow weary. She will be confused, and angry. But someday, this maze will be but a memory, and the sanctification it brought in our life a lasting catalyst that lets us live better for that worth living for.