Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mentally Exhausted

I am tired today. I am physically tired, but worse than that, I am mentally tired. No one warned me how mentally and psychologically exhausting this parenting thing can be. Had I been warned, I may have reconsidered my decision to not travel the world as a single, unencumbered, utterly irresponsible woman. Hopping on a plane to the Virgin Islands sounds pretty good about now.

The crazy thing is, it is not the kids themselves that are exhausting. Yea...the kids are demanding and needy and whiny and time-consuming. They create piles of dirty laundry and dirty dishes. They make messes and spill things and break things. However, these things I can handle. The things that are truly exhausting are mostly created in my own head. It's the mental fatigue of parenthood that is the worst. The sheer volume of worrying that I do about my children is exhausting.

The object (and the subject) of my worrying tends to move in cycles. For a while, I will worry about Sophie. Then Nicholas. Then Lucas. I used to be obsessed about Nicholas' speech...completely convinced the boy would never talk. If you meet Nicholas today you will realize that was a completely unfounded worry. He never shuts up! I have obsessed over Lucas' eating habits, convinced that he would starve because of how picky he is. I have tortured myself with the idea that Sophie needs to overcome her shyness if she is ever to make a friend in her life. I worry that Lucas' teeth aren't perfectly white. Nicholas is constantly adjusting and playing with his hair and clothes...kind of like a tic. Possible Tourette's Syndrome? Sophie constantly says she's hungry and it is always sugar she wants. Future diabetic? Should I be concerned about future obesity? Do my kids watch too much TV? Will video games affect their brain development? Will the artificial sweetener in their Crystal Lite stunt their growth? Is it better or worse than the cupfuls of sugar we drank in our Kool-Aid as kids? Should I give them additional vitamin D since we live in Minnesota and they get so little sunshine in the winter? Are Sophie and Nicky ready for kindergarten? Should we hold them back a year? Is Nicholas going to be the runt of the litter his entire life? Will he ever put on weight? Will cheap shoes hurt the development of their feet? Am I a horrible mom for buying them shoes at Target instead of Stride Rite? Am I missing something? Is there something I am not doing as a parent that will have catastrophic consequences for my children's future happiness? These ideas are constantly bouncing around in my head. A constant barrage of anxiety and worry. For the most part, over completely ludicrous ideas.

The current target of my obsessive worrying is my son Lucas. As I explained in a recent post, Lucas' teacher has recommended he participate in an after-school tutoring program for his reading and writing. Reading and writing with him drives me batty. Up until recently, I would get so incredibly frustrated because I assumed he simply wasn't trying hard enough or wasn't paying attention. I am beginning to see now, however, that he is truly struggling. I have decided that he might just be dyslexic. When I began to consider this possibility, I immediately went to my go-to source for all information pertaining to medical and psychological diagnoses...that's right...Google. I have no medical or educational training, but I do not let that stop me from diagosing my kids. I looked up the symptoms of dyslexia. Though I realize the internet can be fraught with inaccuracies, the symptoms list I found read as though the person writing it knew Lucas personally.

Dyslexics tend to be horrible spellers, often leaving out vowels altogether when writing words. Lucas does this exactly. For example, he will spell the word math as MTH. Word will be spelled WRD. It's almost as though he writes in some strange language of his own made up entirely of abbreviations.

Dyslexics tend to write letters with odd starting points. Lucas does this as well. Rather than writing letters in one flowing motion from top to bottom, he starts at the bottom or in the middle of the letter and creates his letters in a strange, choppy manner.

Dyslexics have left-right confusion, with specific trouble differentiating between b's and d's. Lucas uses b's and d's interchangeably. He has no idea which is a b and which is a d.

Dyslexics get extremely tired after reading for a short time due to the effort it takes for them to read. Again, Lucas does this. He often complains that reading make him tired...even after only one or two pages.

Dyslexics can read a word on one page but not recognize it on the next page. I don't know how many times I have said, "Lucas, you know this word. You just read it on the last page!"

Dyslexics tend to be messy, often piling things rather than putting them away. Lucas' "stuff" is piled up all over his room. He puts nothing away. He has a huge pile of "stuff" on his night stand and another on the floor by his bed.

Pencil grip is unusual. We have struggled with Lucas about this since the day he first picked up a pencil. He still does not hold his pencil correctly.

Dyslexics often omit little words like "an", "and", "but', "then", and "if" when reading. Again, Lucas does this and it drives me crazy.

Dyslexics often have trouble writing on a straight line. Lucas absolutely cannot write on a line. Try as I might to get him to write correctly, his letters and words are all over the place.

When they misread, dyslexics often say a word that has the same first and last letters, and the same shape, such as form-from or trial-trail. Again, this is Lucas exactly.

I am not trying to label my son. As a matter of fact, I hate the idea of a label attached to him. However, it would be nice to know that there is a reason for his struggles...beyond sheer laziness or lack of interest. Then again, perhaps I am over-reacting. Perhaps Lucas is just a little boy who loves science and math, but does not like to read and write. I suspect, however, that it is not quite that simple.

Anyone want to head to the Virgin Islands with me?


Jessica said...

In your research did you see anything about reading through a red filter? I seem to recall a dyslexic friend of mine doing this and it actually helped him. I don't know how or why, but seems worth a try (Google it!). :)

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