What my Daughter is learning from Dyslexia
My daughter is severely dyslexic. Reading is not intuitive for her. It is exceptionally difficult. It is slow going. It is not fun.
In first grade she would come home from school and cry to me about being stupid because she thought she was the worst reader in the class.
Now my daughter struggles with many issues, not only dyslexia. But she is not stupid. She is actually exceptionally bright.
It is, as she often points out, not fair. Not at all fair. She does not like being dyslexic.
As her parent, I wish I could make it easier. I wish I could magically make her able to read. I wish it came as easily to her as it seems to come easily to so many of her peers.
Children who struggle with reading do not generally do well in school. They generally do not like school. School, especially in the early grades, is all about learning to read.
Because reading is so exceptionally difficult for my daughter she is also learning a lot of other important things along the way.
Life lessons. And every single day she gets to practice those lessons.
Being severely dyslexic means that every single day that you work on learning to read you are working on something that is hard for you. Even when you are being taught in the systematic, research based, specialized way that my daughter is being taught… it is still hard.
It means whether you have a good day or a bad day in your reading classes you still go back to it the next day. You persevere. You have to. There is no other option.
Being dyslexic means that you celebrate small gains. This year for the first time my daughter is starting to read street and store signs. And she often surprises herself and she then stop and gives me a hug or a high five. We celebrate the small victories. They are a big deal. They are hard won.
She is also starting to be more adventurous with her books choices. No she does not get all the words right but she is reading. I stop and I notice that she is reading. I point it out to her. I want her to notice when she is successful. She is not making progress as quickly as she would like but she is making progress. No it is not perfect. But, really, it does not need to be. Perfect is overrated. It is good to learn that early on.
Being dyslexic is a daily exercise in understanding the value of hard work and not giving up. It is the daily experience of returning to a task that you do not prefer and doing it over and over again. It is learning that something is random and is not fair and it is not your fault but it is still your responsibility to put forth a good effort to make it better.
For some children, reading is like breathing. It is easy and natural. I am glad for those children and for their parents. I read the face-book posts and I listen to the bragging on the playground. It is something that parents like to brag about.
I want to brag also. I am so proud of my daughter and the incredible effort and persistence she shows everyday.
One day my daughter will read this. I hope it will remind her of how proud I am of her and how proud she should be of herself.
I want her to know that she inspires me, everyday. Maybe one day, when she is having a hard time she will inspire herself. She will remind herself that she knows how to endure when something is hard.
We have more than our share frustrations and our meltdowns. As a parent I have to practice letting go and taking things one step at a time. Some days are hard. We struggle a lot. I am not trying to romanticize it.
But my daughter shows up everyday to do her hard work. She works harder than any child I know on learning how to read. Showing up everyday when something is hard is inspiring. At the end of the day, learning how to show up and learning how to not give up is worth more than being the best reader in the class.