The Damage You Do

Everything we say or do has an effect. In fact, there is not a time where the very existence of you has an effect. So, what prompts tonight’s topic? You hear of that one person who finally got someone on the right track. Well, sometimes that one person is not a good thing.  In fact,  It was a teacher who was one of the biggest reasons we started the home school journey. It’s also why Mr. M struggles to this day when it comes to applying himself to certain things. What this teacher said and did in a single moment resulted in Mr M being afraid to write. Not only that, it made him think he was worthless. She affected him, and still does, in such far reaching ways that I feel this single person reduced his chances at success.

I remember how hard it was trying to communicate with Mr M when he was in early grade school. He had severe speech problems, a very high pitched voice, and great difficulty expressing himself as a result. Because he was at school I was not around to immediately know what was going on; such as the bullying he was suffering from other children. It was not until he got a terrific teacher who specialized in behavioral issues that we became aware of what issues were dragging our son down. She stopped the bullying and began to get Mr M to participate and flourish. It was amazing and I felt like this was it!

And then they shuffled teachers and classes around.

Mr M was placed in another classroom despite the fact this was the first time he was on target and had made progress. My request he stay with the first teacher was denied despite my phone calls and efforts. Now, to better understand the situation, Mr M disliked writing and this first teacher had him writing. In fact, He was writing beautifully. When the teacher change occurred, he even wrote for the new teacher. One time. Why just one time, you ask? Because, when he gave his paper to her, she looked at it, ripped it in half, and threw it away. She informed him it was “not good enough”. It was then he stopped writing all together and began the entire sitting there for hours on end not saying anything or responding. We also learned the bullying had returned.

I tried, as I had with every other teacher,to try and keep updated and know Mr M’s progress. As in previous years, information was hard to get and because of speech issues, Mr M was unable to fully share with us what was going on. I suppose I should count it a blessing this current teacher was so confident that he was worth so little, she felt comfortable telling me outright how annoying his voice was when he whined about the other children bothering him. At the time I felt powerless to help my son and my pleas for changes were largely ignored. Mr M became more and more withdrawn while falling further and further behind. Eventually,  things came to such a head; I thought there was no way home schooling could be worse than public school when it came to his education.

I was correct. It took a lot of time, but I was eventually able to stop Mr M from staring into space or looking at us blankly for literally hours on end. He even wrote a little off and on after quite a bit of effort. Despite the fact what he writes is always beautifully written, has terrific sentence structure and a very well understood topic with support, it’s never easy getting him to write. He believes his ideas are no good and will not write without a heck of a lot of pushing. I feel I can not force him to enjoy writing. The best writing curriculum in the world wont instill a love of writing to a broken-hearted child. Honestly, I’m not sure if he will ever appreciate the act of writing despite the fact that when he does, it’s very good.

What happened years ago still affects his confidence to the extent he would much rather not try at all. Just in case he fails. In fact, we just faced this exact same issue tonight.  It all ties back to that one teacher. He is  convinced it’s not going to be good enough. That he is not good enough. He knows we would never do what that teacher did to him in his head, but emotionally? He still pays the price of one person’s actions to this day. I know he has progressed, but I wonder if the battle will ever be over where he realizes how smart, creative, and good he is. Even at writing. Especially at writing.

In closing, I wonder if there are others out there that battle anything similar? Perhaps not with your child. Maybe it was you that was treated in such a way that it broke a part of you. Perhaps you were even the one that hurt another. I just want my son to know how amazing he is and strive for success. To stop being so afraid of failure he is afraid to even try. I see he has come along way, but that one incident hurt him so very badly that it still haunts not only himself, but the family as we struggle to help him overcome it’s effects.


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