On Learning and Living, and Being Who You Are

Micah is not so much into academics. Shocking, I know. He's a hands-on, run-all-day, learn-through-adventure kind of kid. It's just how he's wired. When he has homework, it's a struggle of immense proportions. There's a reason that I make teachers fight him - it's because I don't have the energy to do it myself. (Sorry, teachers. But you know that I love you!) I know that they do fight him because there was a note on one of his papers yesterday that said "20 minutes, 2 broken crayons, 3 tossed crayons" and it was just a sheet with 5 objects to color.

So you can fully understand that over summer, we don't make the boy do any school-related work. Sure, I count with him as we put toys away, and I tell him that his right arm and then his left arm are slipping through his shirt holes, and I tell him all the colors of cars that he has. But I don't make him do anything. I don't ask him which color is yellow, I don't ask him to help me count to five, I don't ask him to color this picture of Woody for me. I let him enjoy summer while subtly trying to infuse learning into his active mind.

And I don't require him to use his Voice.

This was a struggle for me. That Voice, sitting there on the counter every single day, just waiting to be used, wasn't. That Voice, that we spent so many months fighting for, collected dust. That Voice that could make a huge difference in his life and ours. It sat idle for three months.

I worried that when I sent him back to school he'd have forgotten how to navigate his way around, or would simply decide that it was too much bother to use at all.

And then I talked to his aide, who was amazed at how far he'd come over summer. He can now recognize 9 out of 11 numbers (last year it was a 50/50 shot when there were only 3 or 4 numbers involved), he knew all his colors, and he was making sentences on his Voice. Two, three and four word sentences. We were both amazed. And thrilled. And it just reinforced to me that sometimes kids do so much better when they can learn at their own pace and not be pushed, and prodded, and made to do extra math worksheets because they got a 96% on the last test.

It always amazes me that Micah amazes me. I think it is still attached to that non-verbal thing that he has going on. When I can't hear him count, or hear him say it's a yellow truck, or hear him recite the periodic table of the elements (hey, who knows what the kid knows) I just assume that he doesn't know these things. And then I wonder how many other people think the same way. How many others judge him to be mentally lacking just because he can't talk? And then it gets me to thinking about mental disabilities in general. We, as a society, base so much on an IQ, as if it's the end-all and be-all to life. We think that smarter people are better people. We think that smarter people get the best jobs. While that is true to an extent, it's not entirely. I could have been a veterinarian (it was my career of choice, had I chosen a career) but instead I chose to be a stay-at-home mom and not grace the workforce with my presence. It doesn't make me stupid. It doesn't make me lazy. It doesn't make me inferior. It makes me a mom. It doesn't make me a better mom than a working mom. It doesn't make me a better mom than a single mom. It doesn't make me anything other than a mom to my own children. And that's exactly how I like it.

And even though Micah may never be able to tell us what he's thinking with any clarity, that doesn't make him less intelligent than anyone else. And if he never scores outside the mentally handicapped range on an IQ test that doesn' make him inferior to those who do. That makes him Micah. Just the way God intended for him to be. And I'll still be his mom, ready to take on anyone who judges him and finds him lacking for all the wrong reasons.


Michelle said...

Such a beautiful sentiment. And yay to Micah for showing how hard your mom has been working -- or so the teachers think :) Your strategy is definitely working. And the winner isn't the smartest. The winner is the happiest. And thankfully, everyone's definition of happy can be and is different. I think Micah's winning. You, too. Me? Not so much right now.

Molly said...

Nothing frustrates me more than the emphasis placed on IQ. Or education. Or job. Because really? Its E Q that matters. NOT IQ.
Really? Does my ability to match shapes indicate the mark my life will leave? Ummm no.

IQ testing is boring. and highly based on verbal ability. So yeah, I'm thinking that test can't tell us much.

I go to a school where people are obsessed with grades. Me? not so much. I'm more concerned with LEARNING. and I don't think the important things to learn are things that are going to show up on a test.

You rock. Micah rocks. judgy people? they do not rock

Aimee said...

I quit worrying about IQ a long time ago, because in my (admittedly limited) experience, the smartest people I know have the most trouble navigating the world and personal relationships.

That was further confirmed to me when Fiver's neurologist (who is a brilliant woman) told us that being super smart -- like genius smart -- is the sign of a disordered brain.

Maybe she was just saying it to make me feel better, but who knows?!

Karen said...

Aimee - I tend to believe that. I've seen book smart people lack a lot of common sense. Of the two, I'd much rather have common sense.

Burgh Baby said...

Great post!

I can't get over how much Micah is starting to look like his brother. Like, WOW!

JennyH said...

Great post. I'm sure people think the same about Max. But he really does amaze me at times with how much he truly knows. he can really 'play' people into thinking what he wants so it will benefit him.

He's such a cutie.

The Sports Mama said...

I hear ya. People always assume Bug isn't as smart as he is, because he can't stay still for more than 2 minutes. So they are always amazed when he flies through math tests for older kids, with no problems. Or when people assume that because Jock is a good looking, charming athlete that he's got nuttin' but fluff between his ears.

Stereotypes, no matter what form they take or what direction they come from, just flat make me twitchy.

HalfAsstic.com said...

And what a beautiful child he is, too! Plus, I love that picture. His eyes are the same color as his shirt.
He really is looking a lot like Luke as well.

imbeingheldhostage said...

You know who else you shouldn't be surprised about is you. You do a lot more than you realize to teach your children on a daily basis. You are my hero-- I'm certain you'll be theirs as well (when they get old enough to really appreciate you).
YAY Micah!

and ooh, look at the cute shirts you have in your etsy shop!

CC said...

I love that he made progress over the summer and grew and learned. And I love all your thoughts on who we were made to be. But, I'm still cringing at the thought of his voice sitting on the counter collecting dust all summer (sorry!)...

Michelle said...


How great that Micah was able to show his teacher the progress he's made over the summer!

Tranny said...

I was very impressed when I met Micah by how verbal he is. I mean .. obviously, he doesn't talk. But he IS verbally expressive. He's clearly very communicative. And you're right - who knows what's going on behind his cute little eyes? I'm sure he knows more than people think he does.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! What a great post! And I am with BB . . . boy is he starting to look like Josh and Luke!

Debbie Yost said...

You know I can totally relate to the nonverbal issue. Peanut is constantly judged to be younger than she is because she doesn't use words to communicate. Children younger than she is treat her like a baby when she is actually 1-2 years older than they are. All because they use words. If you take time and observe her. Get on her schedule and slower pace you will see she is a smart little cookie. She's in there and she wants to play. There are many levels to "smart". Peanut is a problem solver. She can figure things out and fast. Some "smart" people are at a loss when faced with a problem like that.

Also, our kids need time to process. Taking some time off from school can give them time to process what they've been learning all year long and allow them to make leaps in many areas.

the planet of janet said...

go, micah. go on your own terms and in your own way.

and go, mom. keep on keeping on.