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It Helps to Recover From All We’ve Learned

December 8th, 2006

Three months ago, my son’s blood test came back as anemic, but the doctor or the lab never called me with the results. I thought we were just testing for thyroid problems. I figured no news was good news.

“If he stays anemic, he might have cognitive learning problems,” said the doctor.

That statement will hit any parent right in the sternum. Trouble learning? MY KID was going to be different than all those other kids. The words mentally retarded already spun in my mind daily because every book on Trisomy 21 says that this group of children test low for intelligence level.

Funny thing….even with a child with Down Syndrome, I want Addison to be an above average boy. The need to fill our kids with information is a cultural line we’ve been hooked into. We show our kids videos of shiny objects; flash cards at their little faces; teach them where their fingers and toes are; count to ten in 14 languages; learn verb conjugation before toilet training; and possibly, learn the finesse it takes to make a crème brûlèe.

I’m kidding on the last one. But, I’ve slipped into all the traps, in one way or the other, in teaching, and hoping, my kid is going to rise above the cream. Meredith F. Small, a professor of anthropology at Cornell, who’s written several books about children and how we mold them into miniature models of ourselves and all that culture has imposed on us, said that kids are going to learn language at their own pace – no matter what we do to them. They learn by watching us, modeling us. We might get a four year old to sputter bigger words earlier, but he may not understand what “grizzled” means until he can understand the content of a story that needs a word such as grizzled.

I took my son for another blood test. I was grateful that it was only a pin prick to the finger, but his wailing would have suggested otherwise. The nurse put a Band-Aid on his tiny index finger.

“Be careful she,” she said. “He could swallow it.” Duh, I thought. Why don’t you just give him a sucker and tell him not to suck on it? Addison held up his finger like a prize all the way out to the car. I tried once to pull it off, but he quickly withdrew his finger and kicked liked a bucking bunny.

I told him he could have the bandage as long as he didn’t eat it. He resisted this information, and upon leaving the hospital, he had the thing in his mouth. I stopped the car and fished it out of his mouth. (He loves to hide paper, grass, etc. on the roof of his mouth.) He wailed again, but in less than a minute, he fell asleep. He slept for almost two hours in my car while it was parked in the garage. I guessed he’d needed to recover from all he had learned.

One Response to “It Helps to Recover From All We’ve Learned”

  1. Cinthya on December 12, 2006 6:08 pm

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