Friday, September 30, 2011

Decisions

Parenting. Bumbling along.

At homeschool co-op today, I could not decide whether to stick Little Mister in a math class geared at his age level, where they were doing skills he had mastered a year ago, or whether to bring him into my math class for older kids, where he would be challenged academically, but where he would be expected to learn in a much more refined manner. We tried the class with the older kids, but like the 4yo unschooler he is, he wanted to build something out of the counting blocks and draw pictures on the white board. He was such a distraction that I finally walked him back across the hall where the younger math class was eating doughnuts.

Later in the evening both boys had a checkup at the Pediatrician. We talked quite a bit about the advice of the eye doctor from earlier in the week that Mister needed vision therapy. Apparently vision therapy is a bit of a suspect activity, in the category of chiropractic, that is not "proven" to do any good. (I happen to think chiropractic care is quite beneficial in some cases, and I see a chiropractor regularly.) Dr. M instead recommended that we see a pediatric ophthalmologist since Mister shows some large motor delays that seem to be linked to visual issues (my son, ya think?) Hubby and I are so conflicted on what to do with/for/about him. Should we follow the eye doctor's recommendation and pursue his pet project, the vision therapy, which, by the way, costs in the quadruple digits, and is not covered by insurance. It may or may not have any effect, but probably won't hurt anything. Should we get a second opinion, see a specialist, and see what treatment s/he recommends, if any? Should we relax and do nothing, since his vision problems don't seem to be progressive, nor are they holding him back significantly or lowering his quality of life? Should we spend a lot of time, trouble and money, and upset him only to hear there is nothing that can be done anyway? Perhaps no one will actually come forth and admit this, but will continue running us around for years, in order to collect more consultation fees?

Do I sound cynical? Sorry. Sometimes that is what the medical system seems to be doing. With a borderline mild case like mine or Mister's, I wonder if it is even worth trying to find something to treat what may end up being untreatable anyway. Of course I want to ascertain that there is not something actually wrong with his eyes, that his corneas and retinas are healthy.

Parenting seems so overwhelmingly difficult sometimes. Everyone out there is willing to add their two cents to the overload of ideas and information, and the advice conflicts. This works, this does not work. These values are important, this therapy will help, kids ought to learn this and know this and be able to do that. If they don't, they are delayed. Once Abi comes, we'll have even more of these decisions to make for her. Which specialists should she see? Which therapies will benefit her? What can I truly teach her at home, and what will I need an expert to show us?

Although I know parenting and teaching are not a race, it often feels like they are. The kid who reads at an advanced level is clearly winning, and will obviously be successful. Ironically, I was that kid, reading a newspaper fluently at age five. In the long run, everyone else seemed to catch up just fine, and I don't think it did much for me beyond helping to progress the myopia that I was already prone to, and making me feel like a failure whenever I wasn't five grade levels ahead. And now, at the end of the education rat-race, safely here in grown-up land, I would say I am pretty average. I'm not exactly a nuclear physicist or CEO of Google or finding a cure for cancer. So, when it comes to pushing my kids to excel, well, I'm not. Not that I blame my parents for pushing me; they didn't. I think they would have had to put me in a straightjacket to keep a book out of my hands.

I know I'm rambling here. It's a bit of a brain dump, really. We parents all want the very best for our children. Sometimes, though, it's not clear how well our decisions will play out in the long run. It's not clear whether we ought to seek medical intervention for Mister or not worry about it. It's not clear whether I should try to homeschool Abi. It's not clear which math class would be the best for my little math-maniac, who would prefer to eat doughnuts.

My mom's advice sounded the best: pray. And I do. I pray for wisdom constantly. We need the wisdom and guidance of the Lord to care for these precious little ones dependent upon us to teach and love them. I think the minute we're convinced that we have it all figured out is the minute we'll be proved that we're actually doing it all wrong. Instead, I guess we'll keep asking the Lord for wisdom, and continue gathering all of the information and advice that we can get, doing the best we can to make good decisions.

4 comments:

  1. I will be praying for you. This is a decision that only you and hubby can make for what is best for your family. Don't let anyone give you any guff about what you do decide!!!

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  2. We may be pursuing the vision therapy for Mary, so I'll let you know how that goes. We haven't completely decided, but we're taking her for the evaluation soon. She definitely has one eye that turns in, so the optometrist thought some eye exercises would help. We're also wondering about dyslexia. In any case, it is a pretty big financial commitment.

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  3. We did some vision therapy with Chloe and I could see improvement even after the first day, but again, it's your decision. I'm not you, Chloe's not Little Mister, you're situation is different than mine, etc. etc., so yes, prayer is the best way to go.

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  4. I totally understand. I get the same things when it comes to knowing what to do for Jayden. And we were just discussing the other day on 2peas about the "Your Baby Can Read" program, and what were the pros and cons, and a lot of people were saying the same thing- that whatever age they learn to read, they usually catch up in the end. And then there's Isaiah who started reading at 3, but is struggling with comprehension now. It's hard not to fall into the trap of the parent race, but the most important thing is that we do the best for our children. We know them better than the doctors who see them for 20 minutes, and although we may not have all the answers of how to help them, we have to do the best we can with what we have.
    God bless!

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