But there are parts of it that are hard for no reason. That makes me psychotic.
My kid has been struggling in school. Because we live with him (and we’ve had some testing done), we know the problem isn’t intelligence. His IQ is totally respectable. But as his teacher so wonderfully put it, his production doesn’t match his effort. He is extraordinarily frustrated by this. I can understand that.
For the past six months, it has been my mission to find out which particular wire in his brain in not quite connecting how it should. I’m doing the mom equivalent of standing next to the television with my hand on the antenna, lifting my right foot ever-so-slightly off the ground, shouting, “Is that better?”
I don’t yet know everything I need to in order to make sure my kid doesn’t drown in discouragement at school. He’s a bright boy with an imagination you can’t even begin to comprehend. He’s funny and charming and hopeful. He has an incredibly strong emotional intelligence. Those traits are so rare, I am doing everything I can to protect them. We just have to add some other skills to that set.
My allies on the quest have been other moms who’ve traveled this road before me, his teachers, my iron will and the nurse at our pediatrician’s office. My enemy is “the system.”
It is extraordinarily difficult to identify what tests are appropriate to run, find a reputable provider who administers them, figure out what therapies or tutoring might be necessary based on the results, work within the parameters of insurance to help offset the cost, and keep my kid from having a nervous breakdown in the process.
Pro tip: 7-year-old boys do NOT enjoy spending their days with various people who test them to failure over and over and over. By that I mean, they keep asking questions on a particular topic until he can’t answer any more.
Actually, no one likes that. I’m not interested in sitting in a small, quiet room with someone asking me hundreds of questions for hours at a time. That’s like the seventh circle of Hell.
Keep in mind, I’m an educated woman. I read a lot and can spend hours doing research on this. I have really good insurance that helps pay for this. I have the luxury of time and resources to spend on this endeavor.
I have all of that going for me, and I am STILL about to lose my mind dealing with all these people, mountains of paperwork and endless hold Muzak. (“If you get caught between the moon and New York City” remains much more popular than you might imagine.)
If you’re a parent who is just getting by, chances are, your kid is basically screwed. You can’t spend 20 hours per week on the phone with your insurance or doctor’s office, sitting in waiting rooms or filling out paper work. The vast majority of that must be handled during business hours because that’s when these places are open.
I know of no employer who will give a person that kind of time for personal business. How could they? They’re not running a charity. It’s a business, and they need people to do the work they’re being paid to do.
THIS is why poverty is cyclical. If you already do well enough to be able to do this, then your kids will be fine. If you don’t, they’ll likely underachieve or become incredibly frustrated and give up. This is the kind of injustice that causes rage in me.
I knew child-rearing would be hard. I thought that would mean instilling in him values and character and hope in a world that crushes dreams. I thought the hard part would be getting him through the teen years without doing any permanent damage to himself or others.
I was not prepared for red tape to be an extraordinarily difficult piece of motherhood. There’s no reason it should be.
I feel like the dad in the bar in the episode of West Wing, 20 Hours in America.
It should be hard. I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s a man’s job…a man’s accomplishment. But it should be easier…just a little easier. Because in that difference is everything.