The kids and I talked for hours yesterday morning about all manner of things. It was a real treat to have that time with them. At some point I started sharing how difficult it was to teach Madi how to read. I thought I had taught Max, so I wasn’t anticipating any problems. I am now convinced that Max taught himself to read. Even when I began to suspect Madi was dyslexic, I was undaunted. Max was, too—and so am I! No problem. Well, guess what. Problems! Everywhere.
I told Madi how ashamed I am now of how frustrated I got with her. If you look at her old readers, the word ‘the’ is circled in increasingly darkening pencil as you move down any given page. The girl simply could not read that word. And it comes up so blessedly often! It didn’t matter to her, though. She just couldn’t get that word. I was beside myself. I would chant like a helicopter motor, “the, the, the, the, the, the.” I mean, even if she couldn’t read it, she could memorize it, right?
All to His glory, a lady joined the homeschool group who had two severely dyslexic boys and had a plethora of materials to share with me. She was an angel to our family, I must say. In the bags of things she gave me was a book called The Gift of Dyslexia. I am not ashamed to say I read that book with the same excitement that I read the Gospels. I called up my sisters with these unending ‘ah-ha’ moments. My poor husband was probably not so pleased that he was less than a phone call away while I was reading that book.
I learned about how the mind of a dyslexic works in that book. I also learned, to my deep purple shame, that it is exactly words like ‘the’ (which have no corresponding mental image) that stump the dyslexic. Oh, Earth, just open and swallow me, why don’t you? Talk about Bad Mom of the Year Award!
We took an entire year off from reading and did all sorts of activities recommended in the book to help Madi train her mental eye and develop helpful mental images for words that do not traditionally come with one. We played with clay to make letters and practiced ‘parking’ the mind’s eye where she wanted it to be.
Now I have a girl who is finally a ‘reader’—after a solid six years of striving. I am proud of my little fighter-girl and it was fun telling her my ‘the-the-the-the-the’ story. Thank God she doesn’t actually remember it!