Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Letter to Those Who are Concerned About My Kids' Hair and Education

Before I get started, here is a random image to satisfy Anna's request that all my blog posts comes with pictures. 
It is a random picture of a puppy.  
The past couple of weeks, I have had a couple of people approach me. One was concerned about my oldest daughter's hair and the other about my two middle children's reading ability.  Both of these women really care about my kids and in no way meant harm.  Sometimes though, our caring can only complicate already complicated situations.  This is my response to them and my advice on how to help people in complicated situations.

To the person that is concerned with my oldest child's hair:

I say this to you:  Me too.  I look at my oldest daughter who is trying to grow up - without my consent, by the way - and see her try her own things with her clothes, her nails, and yes, her hair.  I understand your concern for it is also my concern.  I know you hate to see it looking unkempt, but guess what? So do I.  I appreciate you asking if you could take over "doing her hair" and I will allow you to, because I know that my child can benefit from being around you and your children and that you love her - her hair is truly a secondary reason to my agreeing to allow her to be at your house every other Friday.  I hope that you are consistent with what you have asked and that you don't let her down.  So many people have let her down, myself not excluded.  But please understand, she could be bald and still be stunning.

To the person that is concerned about my two 2nd grader's reading ability:

I say this to you:  Me too.  I am their mother and their teacher.  To me, those duties are not separate.  They are one and the same.  As their mother, I teach them about life and that includes the "three R's".  I get that you care for my kids and as a public school teacher, you can see that they are "behind" in their reading ability.  Please understand this:  I spent my son's kindergarten year not knowing if he was going to live and his first grade year not knowing how he was going to live.  We are spending this year healing from that trauma and the ongoing questions we have have that have not been answered about why he is sick. We are also trying to keep him awake. Do you know he sleeps any where from 14 to 18 hours a day and when he is awake, oftentimes he feels bad? Feel free to help me devise a strategy about how to get him and my daughter "caught up" to where you feel like they need to be.  I don't like that they are behind either and I can promise you that I am doing everything I can to to get them both "caught up" to where people like you think they should be.

To the both of you:  I know this sounds harsh and I really don't mean it to be, I just don't know of any other way to say these things.  I know beyond a doubt that both of you are approaching me out of a caring heart, but your caring is burdensome as it just applies more pressure to me and my life and honestly, I am doing all I can. I am glad for your offer of help, truly I am. But, please don't give me more to do.  Please just accept that there are things you don't know about and therefore can not understand.  If you want to know, ask and I will be glad to have you over for coffee.

I hope and pray that you hear my heart on this.  You are not helping unless you are doing. You are not helping if you are giving me more to do in an already full day.  You are not helping if you are weighing me down with expectations.  I can promise you, I expect way more of myself than you can possibly know.

I do appreciate your concerns and I share them.

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Wendy said...

Oh, Jessica, I'm so sorry that you and your children are going through a difficult time! We don't know each other, but as a fellow homeschooling mom, I can truly understand something of the pressure you must feel for your kids to look and perform "like everyone else." I'm sure the two ladies you mentioned did mean well, but sometimes what we really need is support and understanding for ourselves while we're doing our best under difficult circumstances. I'll be praying for you and your family.

Rachel E. said...

You are an awesome mom! You don't need to worry about anything anyone says. You know you are doing the best you can and with the abilities God gives you. :)

I have a friend that struggled through homeschooling while she suffered from progressive lyme disease. She had it for ten years before anyone figured it out. Her health was failing miserably, but she stayed through the course - even when nosy neighbors criticized her. Obviously this isn't the same scenario, but it is just a story to help you know you aren't the only one who struggles with comments.

Jessica said...

Thanks for your comment. Normally, things like this would not bother me, but both things so close together really did! People don't realize that unless they are super involved in your life and they express "concerns" that they are only seeing a very, very limited portion that typically doesn't represent the entire story :)

Jessica said...

Rachel - Thanks! There are so many people out there that have it so much worse than I do!
I really do feel like people want to help, but they just don't know how or the help they offer is not helpful and is just something else for you to do or to wonder about.

Radiant Jazz said...

I think the fact that you homeschool is probably getting your struggling child farther ahead than if he went to public school. He would have had to miss a lot of school being sick. This way you can "do school" when it works best for all of you. I think you are doing the right thing. As for your daughter's hair, there are worse problems she could have, much worse!

Radiant Jazz said...
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Radiant Jazz said...
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Jessica said...

Radiant - Thanks! And I agree with both your points!
I think the teacher just saw my two kids, who are the same age, both struggling readers, and made some assumptions. She doesn't know that I pulled my oldest out of public school in second grade and she could not read either. Well, until I taught her. My four year old is also reading quite well and we are all using the same curriculum. She doesn't realize there are other things at work. Your comment posted in quadrupalicate so I removed three of them :)