There’s a specific reason I’m doing this post today, although the idea took root in my mind some months ago. You see, my son came home Friday with an English assignment on which he got 100%. Nice, huh? Except that’s not what I’m celebrating.
It’s the comment his teacher made at the end of his story:
M, you are a funny storyteller. Good job on the editing. Well done! 🙂
What so special about that, you might ask? Well, M hasn’t had an easy time of school, despite being plenty intelligent. It took a while to understand why, but his brain doesn’t process sound the way an average person does. That’s impacted his ability to receive oral instructions, and to perform in reading, writing, and spelling.
Before he was diagnosed with his auditory perception problem, and strategies put in place to compensate, we had a teacher or two who mistook his learning problems for wilfulness. In other words, they thought he was a brat. (And of course, in some instances they’d have been right. ;))
Also, he struggles with fine motor skills. His handwriting’s so bad we’ve joked he should have been the physician in the family.
But with diagnosis, some gentle coaching on our part for most teachers, some serious advocating for a few recalcitrant others, and use of a laptop, things came around. M hit the honor roll. He no longer sweated over ever written word.
Yet still, my son hated English.
That wouldn’t be such a tragedy except you have to meet this kid. He’s wildly imaginative and wickedly funny if you appreciate British-type comedy. In fact I swear he understood irony by the age of eight, when most of his peers’ ideas of humor encompassed only fart jokes. Yet every time M sat down to do a school assignment he’d reign in all that talent and voice.
I know this because he bounced ideas off me. And before he learned to keyboard well himself, I transcribed his English assignments. I’d chuckle as I typed, thrilled by his gifts, then he’d march right over and delete the good stuff.
“I can’t keep that, Mom,” he’d say over my protests. “They’ll get mad at me at school.” And maybe this is my failing as his mother, or maybe it was wisdom on both our parts, but I chose to believe him.
Enter Mrs. S.
I don’t know precisely what it was she said in four short weeks to make such an impact, but I saw M tackle this last assignment with uncharacteristic interest. He composed it himself, and when I read the rough draft, I thought it was fabulous. I just never imagined he’d leave it intact. Nor that she’d so thoroughly reward the risk.
So Mrs. S, I’ll say this is person to you as well, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you. If you knew how few times I’ve seen my son emerge from school with bedazzled eyes and a smile that stretched to Japan—about English, no less!—you’d get it. I have a brilliant/wise man-child who has muted himself. Until now.
Now he gets to know the magic of unfettered play with the written word. Now we all get to see what he’s capable of. And you know something? I wouldn’t be a jot surprised to see him write for the likes of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert one day. Or become an author who writes books for other fidgety boys.
Lest you believe that I exaggerate, there are two English teachers I still honor in my heart for precisely these reasons. I doubt that M and I are alone. In fact, I’m positive we’re not.
To that end, I’m turning over the comments section to you folks. How about it? Is there an English teacher or professor who played a big role in your life? Someone who gave you a gentle push along the writing path you’d like to thank in public? ‘Cause if so, I’d love to hear your stories.