I didn’t realize how bad things were until I went to the parent-teacher conference last year. As soon as my husband and I settled ourselves into the chairs, that were ten times too small for our large butts, the teacher uttered the sentence that changed my life.
“I’m worried about your daughter.”
Now it wasn’t so much the sentence, but it was the way she said it. She had heaved a huge sigh before she uttered it, clenched her hands in a fist on the table, and her gaze grew bleak with concern. It was the look of someone delivering bad news. Then she went on to list her concerns.
It seems my daughter could not read, had temper tantrums, bouts of crying, and was behind in math as well. For those of you who don’t know, my daughter has a marked speech disability. Bless her heart, she sounds like Scooby Doo at super speed. When she gets upset, excited, or tired it gets even worse. Sometimes even I have trouble understanding her. Until that conference, however I thought that was the extent of it. I was so, so wrong. The thing that hurt the most was my daughter could not read.
I’m a writer, books are the center of my life. They bring me joy, comfort and an escape from my troubles. The fact that my daughter wasn’t able to share in that was heartbreaking. We tried everything, tutors, bribes, and threats in order to get her to work on her spelling words or reading exercises. Nothing worked. It always ended with her in tears and me more disheartened. Then a miracle happened this past week.
A large, heavy box was delivered to my house. In it, my first print book. As I cut it open, my daughter hovered over my shoulder, a look of excitement on her face. As soon as I lifted the flaps, her tiny hands reached in and seized a copy.
“You said I could have one, Mommy.” She lovingly caressed the glossy cover.
“Yes, I did, but lets put it up so it doesn’t get dirty.” I reached for it and she pulled back and held the book protectively to her chest.
“No, it’s mine. I’m going to learn to read it.” She jumped down from the chair and ran to her room, her new treasure tight in her arms.
I felt tears building up in my eyes. My book had finally made it so my baby wanted to learn how to read. It was humbling. Then my joy slowly turned to horror. My innocent daughter wanted to read my very adult book. The one that had dirty words, sex, and all kinds of forbidden things in it. Oh no!
Does anyone have some whiteout tape handy?