Lessons in gratitude

I'm not always capable of spotting the silver lining in our little family's storm-tinged clouds. The reasons are both obvious (I suffer from slight OCD) and surprising (I grew up in a constant state of anxiety).

Therefore, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by my child who refuses to read each sentence in his math word problems, breaks down in tears because I refuse to find "misuse" in the dictionary for him, and comes home from school reciting long lists of what he did wrong that day (even when his behavioral report is positive). I have a child who is not flying through academics with ease. He stumbles over every single challenge he encounters.

But here's the thing. Though my son is compelled to make everything more difficult than it has to be, he is excelling. He works diligently on his homework every night, loves sticking his nose in a book, and has a burning curiosity for more information. He doesn't just want to know what, exactly, misuse means. He wants to know why it means that. Who decided? Why the prefix mis- instead of dis-?

And for the first time since he moved out of Ss and Us and into As and Bs, he has earned a spot on the A/B Honor Roll. Had this happened a few years ago, I would've been disappointed. I can admit that. I would've been disappointed that my highly intelligent child wasn't performing at the top of his abilities. I would've lectured him about his potential and his future.

But we've been down a long road. We've sat beside each other in a therapist's office and learned how to stop his disorder from controlling his life. We've tried method after method for keeping his complete lack of impulse control from keeping him in constant turmoil. We've sat in parent-teacher conferences listening the same message time and again: Javi is impulsive. He doesn't sit still. He talks out of turn and disrupts his peers. He argues with his teachers. He gives nonsense answers to questions though we know he knows the correct answer.

Yes, the road has been long and it has, at times, seemed dark and hopeless. We aren't at the end of it yet; however, my child took a deep breath sometime back in September and decided he was going to try just a little harder. He came home with an 82 (a firm C) in Math on his report card, and we sat down with him and talked about ways he could improve. He came home last week with the results of that pep talk: an 87 (a way firm B).

Some days I struggle to see the silver lining and other days I get blinded by the burst of light that my funny, smart, sweet little boy brings into my life. He never questioned his ability to hunker down and push through, never doubted that his dad and I are his staunchest allies, and never for one moment gave up on himself.

People like to say that I saved Javi's life, that I rescued him from what would've been a horrible life. But when I see him work so hard to conquer his challenges without ever throwing his hands up in defeat, I am so thankful to have him in my life. I didn't rescue him; he rescued me, and he teaches me another lesson in gratitude every single day.


  • Katie Jones

    Congratulations to Javi for being recognized for all his hard work! And congrats to you and Billy for being the "proud parent(s) of a terrific kid"!

  • Cheryl

    *sniff* Such a beautiful post. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  • Kelly Miller

    Thanks Katie - I know you know all too well how hard (and important) 3rd grade is. It's been hard work (and it's not even halfway over yet), but we're really proud of him!

    In fact, when he showed off his 87, I didn't even say what ran through my head -- Next report card it should be an A! I just gave him a big hug and told him what a hard worker he is. :)

  • Kelly Miller

    Cheryl - Right back atcha!

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