Wednesday, January 28, 2009
A Friend Indeed
I have a good friend named Carla. When we first moved to Cody, she called me and invited me to a weekend retreat called Time Out For Women, sponsored by Deseret Books. Someone had dropped out of their group and they needed another person to buy her ticket (thank you, Stacey). During this trip I got to know 3 inspiring women I would have otherwise probably shied away from. We found common ground and shared stories and, well, bonded.
Later that year, Carla began a Writer's Club, and put hours of work into our monthly meetings, where we have a short grammar lesson, a prompted free-write, and study an aspect of writing, like character development or conflict. Then, we share projects, bounce ideas off one another, and laugh. A lot. We linger, not wanting to leave, but we have smiles on our faces. The club is the reason I have re-discovered my love for writing. We chuckled when we realized it was mostly made up of our Time Out For Women group, so we named it T.O.W. (Time Out for Writing).
Now, after a year and a half of struggling with our oldest son, Braeden, Carla has again played a part in my life.
Braeden spent a couple of years resisting bullies. Last year, though reaching test scores beyond others in his class, acing every test, and being classified as 'genius', 'gifted', he slowly shut down... failing classes and withdrawing. His smile, always present before (we called him "Smiley-B" the first ten years of his life), faded. Of course, we stepped in, addressing the bullies, and with the help of the school counselor, were able to pull them out of the picture.
But, damage had been done. Braeden continued this year, to slough the classwork, ace the tests, and withdraw. With high school starting next year, we had to do something.
The teachers assured us, "It will be better once he gets to high school." And, "There are worse things he could be doing."
Yes, but, we want our son happy, now. We see his potential, and we see his joy of life gone. We want him to know success after hard work. We want him to feel he is worth something in this world. We had tried so many different things. We were at the end of our rope.
Enter Carla. Carla home schools her son, who is Braeden's friend. My husband suggested I talk with her, see if she had any ideas (this was huge, considering my husband's career in the public school system). As I spoke with her about the things we were facing, she was filled with compassion. We were soon discussing possibilities, answers to prayer (hers and mine) for these boys, and I began to feel hope... that we could do something.
We are nearly through our first week of home schooling. Carla is teaching her son and Braeden together, and I am helping however she needs me. I get to teach art class on Thursday, and I will be supervising Braeden's Algebra daily.
Here is the astonishing thing. Braeden has color in his cheeks. The dark circles under his eyes are gone. He falls asleep at night. He is smiling again, naturally. His jokes at the dinner table are not sarcastic, and he is eating. He has practiced piano every day, and even plays again in the evening, just for fun. He read his assigned biography in one afternoon, without me asking.
I feel like I'm getting my son back.
I really have no concerns about my younger kids surviving middle school. But kids are different.
What would we have done without Carla? I don't even want to think about it.
I know this is just the beginning, and we will have to be diligent, but what a motivator, to see the light back in my son's eyes.
I hope he remembers he loves to learn. And I hope he feels he is worth something in this world.
Thank you, Carla. You are a true friend.