Tag Archives: stereotypes

Mama help me, don’t hinder me

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No parent wants to believe or be told that there’s something “wrong” with one of their children. Every parent wants each of their children to be as “normal” as possible. Whatever normal is, that’s what we’re always aiming for.
In my culture and race it’s sort of deemed as “taboo” if your child “needs” medicine just to function and carry out day-to-day activities. If your child is unable to control themselves then you (as the parent) are looked at, as if it’s all your fault.

“You had to do something wrong!”
“Oh! You ain’t raised ’em right!”
“What she/he needs is a good ol’ fashion ass kickin’!”

Growing up I heard over and over again, that “black women” can handle their kids. They don’t need to put them on medicine.
Putting your children on medicine is something that white people did because they don’t know how to raise their kids. They’d rather their kids function like zombies, than to deal with them.
That’s exactly what I grew up believing.
We DON’T put our kids on medicine, period!
From what I could see, it was true.
None of my friends, cousins or any one that I knew needed medicine to behave or function. We all were “normal”.  I didn’t have a clue what a kid needing medication even looked like.
This all held true for me, until I became a mother for the second time.
My oldest daughter was born seven weeks before her due date. In spite of being born early, I still expected her to progress normally, just as her older brother did.
Niave me never considered that she’d be delayed in any way. I was shocked when she didn’t sit-up on her own until she was five months. I was really shocked when she started crawling and walking late.
It wasn’t until she started first grade when I knew for certain, there was definitely an issue (of some sorts) going on with her.
In first grade she wasn’t able to catch on and memorize addition or subtraction facts. She would become overwhelmed then anxiety would be the victor. She’d get frustrated, cry, then eventually she’d shut down.
My solution?
I withdrew her and my son from their Catholic school and opted to home schooled them. I figured, she could learn at her own pace and at the same time, I was hoping that my son’s ability to learn effortlessly would rub off on her. We successfully did the homeschool thing. I was happy with the results.
When I re-enrolled them back into the traditional school setting (a year later), to my surprise the same problems still existed with my daughter. She was still learning at a much slower pace than her peers. She was having great difficulty retaining information,  likely because she preferred to daydream and her attention span was extremely short.
Luckily for me, she was now in a school where each student had their own individual plan for success.
Not only was my daughter given a slower paced plan, but the educators were so patient and extremely supportive of her. We stayed with that school district for five years and for five years my daughter was academically successful.
During those years, I’d managed to successfully smother the “issues” that plagued her.

Last year it all came to a head.
Our move from Michigan, forced me to finally admit that my daughter had some attention/comprehension issues….and they’re much bigger than me!
She was in eighth grade and the new school she was attending was pretty rigorous in their academics. It wasn’t long before she was failing every class.
I tried to devise a learning plan and studying methods for her, but none of them worked. I meet with the counselor and all of her teachers hoping that they’d have a solution, but to no avail. They weren’t the most helpful and they didn’t have any real resources.
I was now backed up against a wall and I didn’t know what to do next.
I called a cousin and sobbed about the entire situation from beginning to end: I couldn’t have a child who wasn’t “normal”. I didn’t want to be the mother who did something “wrong”. I couldn’t be the first in the family to fail at being a mother. I’d come from a long line of strong women, and I didn’t want to be the first weak one.

Calling my cousin was just what I needed. It was just what my daughter needed!
My cousin had just gone through something very similar with one of her daughters. Her daughter is the same age as my daughter. Not only that, they look and act JUST alike.
She, too, was failing all of her tests, quizzes, state exams, etc. She was easily distracted and was always all over the place– unfocused. Her daughter’s confidence had waned, as well. Long story short, she’d gotten her daughter an IEP. Immediately there was a complete turnaround in her academics. She’d become academically successful and her confidence soared through the clouds.
Music to my ears!

No sooner than I’d heard this story, it was like a five ton fourteen year old weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I actually exhaled the deepest of breaths ever.
Everything that I’d ever learned about needing special accommodations for your children had gone out the window. I was no longer being held hostage by any stigmas or stereotypes.

For the first time (nine months ago) I was finally able to verbalize that my child is unable to be academically successful and socially accepted without the assistance of medication. On her own, she’s unable to focus and concentrate. She’s easily distracted and will completely lose control of herself.

Whew! There! I said it again.

After thirteen years, I’d finally come all the way clean about my daughter’s shortcomings. It took the doctor and psychiatrist several more months to properly diagnose and order a treatment plan for her.
Needless to say, a big change has taken place in all of our lives since treatment began.
First and foremost, “the girl” received an 87 percent and a 92 percent on two major tests. She’d only been undergoing treatment for about a week when she received her first passing test grades. I was so AMAZED! I couldn’t believe that it was working so quickly!

Not only has treatment had a positive affect on her academics, but it’s also been positively affecting her social relationships. She’s much calmer. She’s less stressed and more in control of herself. She’s able to ignore her little brother when he’s being a pest. She’s no longer socially awkward around her peers. She exudes confidence now. This is everything that  I’ve being wanting for her, all of her life!

TheBiggest Gal and I at one of many appointments

The Biggest Gal and I at one of many appointments

I feel so badly for cheating my daughter out of her current way of life for so long. If ever I could get a do-over, this would be it. It’s pretty much my only life regret. When I think,  she could’ve been in this  happy space ten years ago, I’m overcome with guilt.
I’ve been told, “Stop blaming yourself! You only did what you were raised up to do.”
I’ve even heard, “Be glad that you realized the error of your ways and corrected it, before it got too late.”
I am grateful for all of that, still it will be quite some time before I no longer feel ‘as’ guilty as I do today.

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Homeschooling: End of Week Numero Uno!

Still trying to figure out who signed me up for this! Upon arriving at my new home in Texas, I had NO IDEA that I’d be solely teaching my youngest son his academic curriculum this school year. This was so UNEXPECTED, yet it was so necessary. After being in school for less than a week, my youngest son’s teacher called me to set up a meeting, in regards to his academics. I was expecting to be told that my son is a lazy reader, and that he’d be receiving additional help in that particular area. What I wasn’t expecting was to be told that he needed to be placed back in the second grade.

As one whose deeply involved in the educational system, I would have never drawn these conclusions after having a child in my classroom, for such a short period of time. Instead of hitting the parent with such devastating news, I would have first notified the parent that I see “potential academic problems” and then made several suggestions. I would have asked for constant reinforcement of the daily lessons,  I would have provided material where I felt the student could use strengthening. I would have informed the parent that the state test is held at the last of November and before then we could conduct our own test and from there make “our” OWN decision as far as academics are concerned. My first suggestion wouldn’t be to put the child back in the previous grade.

After pondering over their recommendation, I decided that my son would be better educated this school year in our home. I officially withdrew him from the school and today ends our fifth day of home instruction. So far so good.

I now have a point to prove. Next year when I go enroll him back in the same school, I’ll be sure to have them test him first because he’ll definitely be far more advanced than their fourth graders! Can you say, “eight year old fifth grader”?

Although homeschooling was not in any of my plans, it’s something that I must do. It’s just another one of the many sacrifices that us, Mothers/Parents are faced with on a constant and daily basis.

The point of this post really is to remind parents that no one knows your child/ren better than you. You don’t have to allow anyone to force you to put your child into their little well labeled stereotypical boxes, and then that’ll just be it. You as the parent have the final say so, and you’re always going to do what’s the absolute best for them. Don’t allow anyone (especially these textbook teachers) to have you second guessing what your instincts tell you.

Look for weekly updates on our homeschooling adventures! =)

 

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