Gigi is her own special person. She was my earliest to walk and my most athletic child, the one who didn't inherit my awkward body. She is beautiful and has the sweetest disposition. She is far neater and has much better pencil grip than her older brother. Her coloring abilities have surpassed his for years. She lacks his shyness and is confident in her own choices. I've never worried about her getting into a bad situation just to follow the crowd and she is assertive even with adults, even if sometimes that isn't always a blessing. But she has her own struggles.
Gigi didn't talk at all until she was three and as she's gotten older Dr. J and I have become more sure that she struggles with a learning disability. Learning colors was exceptionally difficult for her. For a long time she couldn't even come up with the names and then when she finally got the words solidified in her mind she still struggled with the associations. She'd look at a pink shirt and say to me, "It's either pink or purple." By some miracle of miracles she hasn't had the same struggle with letters, but numbers have proven to be a challenge. The amount of work required by both of us for her to be proficient, just barely squeaking by is monumental. With her moving to real school, to real grades I've been filled with anxiety about her school years.
My worry taps into some of the worst parts of my human nature. FEAR. Fear that she will be teased by other children. Fear that she will become frustrated with learning and want to give up. Fear that she will feel bad about herself and as a result be an easy victim to people who would cause her harm. JEALOUSY. Jealousy as I watch friend's kids, three and four who are already reading and doing math with ease. Kids who honestly could just move on to first grade without any trouble and whose very presence in kindergarten will make my daughters difficulties even more evident. Jealousy because in motherhood you are judged by results rather then by efforts and mine make me feel like a mother fail. FRUSTRATION. I think this one is pretty self evident.
Dr. J and I years ago decided to face this challenge head on. We took advantage of government programs that would give her a leg up. We put her in the best preschools we could find regardless of cost. We've worked with her countless hours. And now even though I hate labels, they scare with me with their finality, we have met with the school and asked them to formally test her for a disability. When I first talked to the Special Ed teacher, she said to me, "What has your pediatrician recommended, because lots of kids outgrow things as they mature." And I got to say, "Well her father is a pediatrician and he is concerned." Here is where being the daughter of a woman who has been teaching for 25 years comes in handy. I know that I could sit around and wait for the teacher to come to this conclusion on her own and then start the process, but it will take her months to realize this isn't just nerves, shyness, immaturity or anxiety over school. Then it will take months more for her to go through the hoops to get her tested and by then we might just be at the end of the year and the process will just have to start over again in first grade, all the time all of hoping she'll just outgrow it. I hope the testing will give us an answer, a place to start, a plan so that I can help her reach her full potential. I hope G Bear loves school. I hope she feels confident and makes lots of new friends. May I always be able to keep in mind that when raising children it's all about helping them be their best, not looking your best in front of other people.