Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The end of High School, the end of dreams

Parenting #1 is river canoeing. There are moments of flow, even quiet times. And then there are the rapids and the waterfalls. Now we can hear another waterfall in the distance, perhaps the biggest so far.

#1 is finishing 10th grade. He loves books and school. He is proud when he makes the honor role. He loves his biology class. He wants to take a heavy course load next year. He knows the colleges he wants to attend.

#1 reads at about the fourth grade level. He struggles to solve exercises involving clock time. He can do simple arithmetic. He is not going to go to attend college, he won't get a High School diploma, he will get our school district's equivalent of a certificate of completion.

His cognitive disability means he is not fully aware of the gap between his abilities and his dreams. Disney, it seems, is wrong; it is not enough to believe in yourself. He has thought of himself as a good student, somebody who might help teach 9th grade students. He applied to join his school's leadership team (and, to the school's shame, was ignored).

That is the shape of the next waterfall. He is going to discover, in a way he cannot deny, the truth of his circumstances. This comes to most of us, in one form or another -- but not usually in such a harsh and brutal fashion.

I have started to discuss this with him. I have to somehow explain that no matter how hard he tries, he cannot do what most people can do. It is not his fault, it is not something he can fix by working harder, he simply cannot do this. It is disability without the inspirational movie ending.

Somehow, in the midst of crushing all his hopes and dreams, we have to give him something else. We don't know what the hell that is. Sometimes I think I'll start a business he can work with me on. Mostly I think I'm delusional about that.

This is not easy.

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