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[Cancer, Child]

[cancer|child] Academic parenting in the time of chemotherapy

Yesterday evening, Mother of the Child and I attended the first class meeting at [info]the_child‘s high school. She’s a freshman, just begun, in the same Waldorf environment she’s been in since pre-K. It was a good meeting, we spent some time with one of her teachers and got to speak to both old friends and new acquaintances among the class parent body.

[info]the_child is severely dyslexic. She was formally assessed about fourteen months ago, but that was mostly a confirmation of what we’d suspected for a while. She is very intelligent and very determined, but the dyslexia can make even routine academic tasks into real challenges.

I’ve generally been the primary resource for homework help these past few years. And with her text processing issues, she has needed that help, and continues to. At the same time, this is high school, and the beginning of the slow transition to higher education and adult independence. As [info]the_child herself says to me, “I have to do this myself. It’s not like you’re going off to college with me.” So for developmental reasons, I have to let go.

However, I am starting chemotherapy tomorrow. I won’t finish this treatment course until sometime next April, and won’t be feeling like myself mentally or physically until sometime next summer at the earliest. In other words, I am checking out for the entire school year.

This means I have to let go of my role as homework helper right now. Abruptly. And it’s killing me. [info]tillyjane (a/k/a my mom) is stepping into the role in a big way. The school is very interested in helping her, providing [info]the_child with the needed dyslexia accommodations in keeping with Oregon law and Federal law. But she struggles with accepting the help, due to not wanting to be different, and feeling like she is somehow achieving an unfair advantage over her classmates.

The cancer is taking me out of the homework equation. Which is, in the end, probably a good thing. [info]the_child is absolutely right about her need for independence in this. But it’s very painful to face in the now. I have to let go of so much as this disease continues to rob me of both my present and the future. Letting go of my ability to guide and mentor my daughter is just one more bitter loss.

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