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Square Peg

Last night Tom wanted to play “Flash Cards.” Honestly, the kid’s idea of fun is trying to learn to read “big boy” books or figure out what 5 + 3 equals. He’s so eager to catch up to his big brother, Jack, that I don’t have to expend any effort to keep him on track ¬†and ahead of the curve in pre-school. So as we sit “playing” flash cards, Jack and Tom are racing to see who can identify the word first and call out all its letters. I turn to Sam and Will, who are happily rolling cars along the carpet’s edge, just to see how much they can identify. Will is a bit rocky in his responses, but Sam is not even in the ballpark. I begin to fret.

“What if his teacher is putting too much emphasis on art?” I ask.

Jason shrugs.

“What if we haven’t been working with him enough at home?” I add.

Jason grunts.

I fume the rest of the evening.

I wake up this morning and realize I’m still worried about his progress. I discuss it with his teacher and fret some more. And when everyone gets home from pre-school and has their snack, I hustle them to the dining room table so mommy can play school.

I give two boys worksheets to keep them occupied while I work individually with the third. Will is first and actually surprises me with his enthusiasm. Tom, as I expected races through what I had planned for him and begs for more. I settle them both with worksheets and turn my attention to Sam. Identifying letters of the alphabet has no interest for him. He simply refuses to participate.

“What’s this letter, Sam?” I ask pointing to the letter ‘p.’

“That’s for Paul’s name,” he answers, still scribbling at the worksheet I’d given him earlier.

“Great! But what letter is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s a ‘p’ son. Can you say ‘p.’

“No, I don’t know how,” he shrugs.

I’m really concerned at this point. I have visions of remedial classes, tutors, and years of frustration ahead of us. I know my boy is bright and beautiful, so why is he not making any progress?

My eyes fall on the worksheet where he’s still happily scribbling. He is supposed to take the caterpillar from the top of the page to the bottom by drawing a line through a convoluted maze. Instead, he’s drawn a series of lines directly from the start to the finish.

“Sammy, baby, why didn’t you help the caterpillar get from the top to the bottom?” I ask.

He stops scribbling and points to the series of lines he’s already made. “I did, mommy. See? I drew him a bridge.”

I stare at it for a moment, blinking. Then I pack up my workbooks and pencils.

He may not manage it in exactly the way I expect, but it’s clear Sam can take care of himself.

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2 Responses

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  1. Tamara says

    It’s so hard to not let yourself get caught up in the “should they be doing or why aren’t they doing xyz” game. You are doing a fabulous job! If there were real reason for concern, your teachers would have approached you. Sam just looks at the situation in a different light, but sees the light all the same!

  2. jodi says

    Thanks, T. That’s a great way to put it!

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