Zander is a very motivated child … when it comes to swimming
and gaming. He is in the pool at 6h30 with his friend, where they swim at least 2 km. They then gym for another hour. Proper gym, not chatting up girls or looking in the mirror. His friend wants to be an Olympic swimmer. They are focussed. Every afternoon he swims another 2 hours with his swim club.
Now, Zander is small. He is doesn’t have spare muscle or fat. He needs to put in a lot to make up for all the kilojoules he loses per day. I could see it was all getting to him when we started school. He would literally fall asleep while reading for marks. He could not stay awake until afternoon practice. He would have to sleep from after “school” until we leave for the half hour drive to his swim club.
It could not go on like that. He doesn’t want to hear about slowing down. He wants to do better. He wants to be better.
I’m going to get him to take in extra protein shakes that will hopefully work. I hope he will get it that he needs to eat more. It is not that he doesn’t want to, he is just not hungry. So rather, I hope his body gets ready for more food.
I phoned his urologist this morning. He has kidney issues. Basically he has one working kidney, so I also can’t just give any shake. It will have to be something his body can handle. Thankfully his doctor also has a son that is sportsman so he will know even more what is safe for Zander to use. He will contact me tomorrow after looking at his file.
I hope that we can find a balance. I told him no more gym on a Wednesday. (He will still swim in the afternoon) Feels like he is getting the day off but in reality he will just be doing what the other swimmers are.
Children attending government schools and even some private schools, cannot go to school yet. Not surprising the schools aren’t ready to handle all the children and be Covid compliant…
However, this does not influence homeschooling. Zander started on Monday.
Unfortunately, no second day of school for him. He has a horrible middle ear infection. Hopefully tomorrow we can continue again.
No swim training though and that is the worst thing that can happen in his life. 😅
After trying to find out what Zander sees when he reads I finally understand. Last night he explained it to me in such a logical way. This is not the first time I asked: just the first time I understood.
I want to explain how he sees it. Just maybe it could help someone else.
Basically he sees the spaces between words first. Then he sees letters between the spaces that are scrambled in a way.
Somewhat like this:
This si how he seses teh dswor hatt he rades.
He has to unscramble words before reading them. I am glad that I now understand why he battles but it saddens me to such an extend.
I can never fix that. I am just glad he doesn’t have to cope with it at school anymore, where the biggest bullies were the teachers.
I love you, Zander! More than all the scrambled words you can make.
It feels as though I should introduce myself, my life and my many children.
2020 sucks. Too many losing their jobs. So much heartbreak around us. I lost my sweet little Bella to cancer after all she went through. I miss her when I wake up, I miss her when I go to sleep.
I had an operation two weeks ago to remove a growth in my throat 11x7x5 cm. Rather big BUT benign so that is all that matters. Since it is lockdown we couldn’t have any visitors. I was so lucky to have had an old school in the bed next to me. She took such great care of me.
Zander had an operation on his toes. They had to loosen the ligaments and scratch away bone so that his toes could straighten out. Four weeks later and he is still in pain.
Financially it is tough. I’m not going to lie. I would not have made it without my parents.
Kyla is now homeschooling as well. We just couldn’t with the Department of Education anymore. No plans at all as to when school would open but the children were getting behind by the day. So many a child at home now. Even Jason’s friend Armando is here to school most days.
I actually missed blogging. I should do it more often.
Unless you are the parent of a dyslexic child, you don’t know what it feels like to watch him struggle. You don’t know how it feels when you sit down and feel inadequate because you aren’t sure you are helping him enough.
I see the reality of this daily. As a homeschool mom, I’m doing my utmost best to make things as easy as possible but yet leave him to feel able to do things himself without getting frustrated.
Just so you know…he will never outgrow it. No amount of reading will made it ‘better’.
At a gala last year he wanted to buy some raffle tickets. I saw him take the form but he just stared at it. I asked Quintus to quickly go over and help him. Zander couldn’t read what he had to complete. He was standing between his fellow friends and teammates and couldn’t read. Thankfully he has amazing brothers.
Last week, I gave him the card to withdraw money for the first time. It was just us, so I knew he would be okay to alone. My car was parked right next to him. He just stared at the screen. I thought to myself that surely the machine must be broken or something. It can’t take that long. I got out of the car and when I got to him, he asked me to read the words on the screen. He couldn’t make out what it said.
I’m not saying he can’t read. He can. Not everything. Not in every single font. He needs help when it is a certain font. He concentrates so much to read that he tends to forget what he read. Is he intelligent. Hell yes. When I teach him via drawings or my very own funny acts, he remembers everything. Even dates (which I really can’t)
I lie in bed at night, worried about him. Will he be okay? Probably but it will take more for him to be okay than it will for non-dyslexic children.
As much as many people believe it is something they can get over, I promise you so do I. Unfortunately, that is not the reality.
Friday we were busy with Afrikaans and part of our work for the day was to conduct interviews. Jason was promptly nominated as the first person to be interviewed and as always we had some brilliant answers from him and spent most of the time laughing. He really could be a standup comedian. Homeschooling would not be the same without him.
Some of the questions were very straight forward…the usual what is your favourite food, colour etc.
Zander was also interviewed and one of the questions asked was what is you biggest wish.
“My biggest wish is to be able to read.”
There was a very short moment of silence, where both Jason and I knew we had to handle this answer the correct way. We don’t want him to feel any less because he battles to read. We want to acknowledge the fact that he does, as well as give him praise because he never gives up.
My heart broke. In that very moment my heart broke for him. Why should his biggest wish be to be able to read? Why not to meet his hero (who BTW he said was me), get the newest electronic game, new cellphone or whatever it is that young boys desire? Why the ability to read fluently? Life can be very unfair.
However, I am very proud of him. Proud that he is not embarrassed to admit he is dyslexic. That is doesn’t mind asking for help if he is not sure how to read a word. He is fine with the fact that his friends will correct his spelling. I’m proud that he actually types whatsapp messages instead of sending voice-notes. Not the lazy kind of typing (where typing 2morrow is such a time-saver! What on earth will you do with that extra split seconds you saved) No, even my dyslexic son takes the time to type out the words.
Zander, I love you. I love how you accept the hand dealt to you even though I know it can’t be easy. I will forever be proud of who you are.
Remember that you are allowed more than one wish.
Your greatest supporter
So this wasn’t the easiest of years.
Zander recently told me that I was often short-tempered this year. I was rather suprised. That is something that I work hard at not to be. I homeschool him to give him a better education. An education with less stress. Being short-tempered would go against what I’m trying to do. I do understand though. I had to homeschool while getting chemo, while ending up in hospital too often, through operations and radiation. All while supporting my mom as much as I could.
It was a tough year. Yet, here we are at the end of it and he excelled. He has an average of 79% with 3 distinctions. I could not be more proud. I could not be more proud because he managed to work harder when I was able to. I’m proud because he never ever complained – even when I was short-tempered. I’m proud because he is such a good kid. He is sweet, caring and has the biggest heart. He does his best to be easy-going. He is very much like my dad.
We had his art class prize-giving this week. He goes there every Wednesday, the entire morning. That’s his Wednesday “school” (which means that we had to fit school into just 4 days a week!) He loves it. He loves Aunty Amanda. He loves all his friends there. It’s just perfect for him.
She mentioned that we must remember that we are firstly their moms. That building character is just as important as education. That the matric certificate you get to show during an interview takes a few seconds for them to look at but it’s the character that will be the deciding factor in the end. It’s very true.
I think he built a lot of character this year. He has grown up some. Sooner than I wanted to, he had to cope with my illness. The possibility of losing both his mom and Ouma. He had to cope with seeing us in hospital (too often), sick and barely able to move around.
He did it though. He did it with much help and love from his brothers and Kyla. He is one amazing little guy.
Enjoy your holiday, Zander. Can’t believe you are almost in High School!
The public school children went on their Grade 6 tour two weeks ago. Since I try to give Zander the same opportunities
and more as his public school friends, I decided to give him a little tour of his own.
We went zip-lining on Tuesday. It was a first for all three of us (Jason went with, since it was just days after finishing my cancer treatment and I didn’t know how my body would cope). We loved it. My body … not so much. Shame, the one guy was actually very worried about me. In the end I could barely get onto the bakkie. I couldn’t speak, I was so out of breath.
Let’s focus on how much fun it was though! Poor Zander was a tad light and on the last zip-line he got stuck on the line. His weight could not bring him all the way down. He handled it like a pro though and just enjoyed the view while waiting for them to get him down.
That Thursday we decided that it will have be an educational trip, so took him to the Cradle of Mankind. He then went into the Sterkfontein Caves with my dad. This was a big deal, since he has claustrophobia. He did so well though. He loved spending the day with my dad. There is something special about learning from your grandparents.
We knew that the school were spending their last day at Gold Reef City. So we planned our week in such a way that we would be there at the same time. Quite a gamble since it’s a big place and we might spend all day looking for his friend. We were lucky though and managed to find him. Zander spent most of the day walking around with him. I was SO proud of him. He went on almost all rides. Even ones with a 9/10 fear rating! My poor dad went on one of the rides with us and was sooooo sick afterwards. I felt so bad for him. Gold Reef City was definitely the highlight of the week for Zander.
I really am blessed with children who have the most caring personalities.
Zander and I were driving in the car yesterday when he said the following:
“Mom, I get R100 pocket money” I want to give R25 of that to …… and R25 to ….. because they don’t have a lot of money.
Now, R25 is not going to buy them much if anything but that is not the point. He is willing to give away half of his pocket money because those families have less than us.
How absolutely sweet of him to be thinking of these families. We weren’t talking about people with less money than us or how blessed we are. They were just on his mind and he wants to help.
I do love that child very much.
Happy 12th birthday Zander. I am so very proud of the person you are. You are compassionate beyond your age. You love so deeply. You have trust in people and see the good in everything. You have a sweet, pure heart. I hope that regardless what life throws at you, you will always choose to see the good.
I’m sorry for not being able to give you the best birthday ever. You deserve the best, every year. Maybe tomorrow we can have the Wimpy breakfast you are supposed to have on your birthday. Maybe I feel better tomorrow.
For now though, sorry that you had to walk into our room and see me sleeping most of your birthday. I found the photo on your phone and I wonder how many times did you walk in to check on me.
Happy birthday sweet boy.
Next year, I promise.
I have some health issues going on at the moment and I thought that we had been pretty good about not talking much around Zander. The older brothers are supportive and old enough to understand that it might end up not being anything serious any way, so they know. Kyla and Zander know the bare minimum.
Zander is very much a mommy’s boy. He also gets anxious easily. Which is why we try our best not to let him know what’s going on. At least not until we know what is going on ourselves.
He was lying next to me in bed tonight when all of a sudden he said that he will commit suicide if I died.
My heart stopped.
He is 11 years old and he even thinks about it! Of course I immediately said that I plan on living 113 years. That he does not have to worry about anything happening to me. He said that he won’t have anything left to live for if I die. I told him that by the time I am 113 he will have great grandchildren whose names he can’t remeber. He will have a lot to live for.
I don’t know if this is just something that crossed his mind now? I am wondering if it could be because Tommie’s cousin just passed away unexpectedly. However we didn’t discuss that in front of him either.
I mean we could all die right now. There are no guarantees in life. I just hope I get to live until an age where he doesn’t feel I am all he has to live for.
Sometimes I am at a loss of words, unsure how to make him less anxious.
I can’t believe he said that. I can’t believe he even thinks about that.
That. That is why.
However there is so much more. I can’t possibly put all of it in words and I can’t possibly remember all of the positives but let me try.
- Time. He gets to spend more time on a subject if he needs to. There is no rush to get to the next class or worrying that the rest of the class has to wait for him.
- Time again. Class doesn’t have to be 25 minutes. If he is enjoying a specific topic, then we spend more time on it. Learn more about it. We don’t stop at what the book says. We learn more. Google. Youtube (our best friend)
- Time again. If he is tired or battling to concentrate, I just skip the lesson and do it on another day.
- Our relationship. We have always had a close relationship. (as I do with all my children) however he is now more willing to open up to me. He is a happy chappy. That is not always a good thing, since under that happy smile there is also anxiety, sadness, worry, stress. Only recently he has started sharing the more negative side of things with me.
- Bullies. We don’t have bullies in our school ☺ (One of the reasons I wish I could homeschool all my children – bullies have no idea how much they hurt someone. By the time they are grown up and realize it, it’s too late for the person who was bullied)
- His friends aren’t just 11 years old. One of his closest swimming friends is 14. It’s not limited by grade.
- Stress. He has so little of it now.
- Confidence. He is another child. Where he used to almost battle to talk to other people or hide behind me, he will now have conversations as though they are long lost friends.
The list is endless actually. He is happy. He is doing well. As an example, he got 82% for history. He did not learn for it. We did no revision. It was from what he learned when we worked through his book (google and youtube as well) No stress. Just from the time we spend on the subject, to make sure he understands and enjoy it. It’s not a punishment. It’s fun. He wants to learn more because we make it fun. We live the history. We don’t read the history.
Anyway, off subject again.
He is happy.
I have read many articles on homeschooling. One of concerns people has is that you cannot work and homeschool. One article actually said that it is impossible.
Well, I’m here to say that it is very possible.
Possible for me and Zander. Okay, I can work around homeschooling, true but still I have to balance work, homeschool, 4 other children, their sport and well….having a life and we do it.
If you really want to homeschool, take comfort in the fact that you can. It is really not that big of a deal.
I’ve done the planning for this term. I actually wouldn’t mind starting now already! Although I highly doubt Zander would want to 😉
Zander had to write an Afrikaans story yesterday. Let me tell you that when he was still in “normal” school, that would bring tears to his eyes. He felt incompetent to do that. He didn’t want to write more than a short sentence. Writing took long. Concentrating on spelling and remembering what it was that he wanted to write about took time. Time he never had in school. (Just to make it clear I don’t blame school. Class is only so long.)
We just finished his Afrikaans for the year yesterday. His last activity was to write a story. I’m going to rewrite it here, with his spelling mistakes. He has dyslexia and unless he uses the speech to text program, his spelling is typical that of a dyslexic person. So either read past that or try and understand what it is like for him to write.
Before I do that though, look at this. This was posted on a website and tries to show us what it looks like for a dyslexic person to read and obviously that is one of the reason why spelling is so difficult.
Die gesegde is hulle bekly soos kat en hond
Daar was ‘n kat en ‘n hond wat altyd bekly het. Hulle dag en dag bekly. Een dag toe bekly hulle nog en ieweskilik wou ‘n arint kat vag. 😦 Hond het gese: “Ek gaan dut nie toe laat nie.” Hond het gehartloop en die aarent gebyt die arent het vinig gevlug.
Kat het gesê: “DankieDankieDankie!!! 🙂 Dankie baie hond jy het my lewe geret.” Hond:” Enige tyd my goei vrind.”
Kat en hond het van dei dag af nie weer bekly nie.
Daar is soveel redes hoekom hierdie storie vir my so mooi is. Hy tyd geneem om te dink oor wat hy wil skryf. Hy het die storie beplan. Die storie is nie net een sin in ‘n paragraaf nie. Hy het direkte rede gebruik. Hy het dit geniet. Dis die belangrikste. Hy het dit geniet.
Ek is so ongelooflik vreeslik trots op die seun.
Quintus is your typical Ouboet. He will stand up for his brothers, protect them and give them advice. He will be their biggest supporter.
Zander is lucky enough to have two older brothers. Both of them love the little guy a lot and probably do more for him than most brothers will.
This is about Quintus though. I looked at him yesterday as he stood with Zander at the pool, waiting for his turn to swim. Zander’s first gala. He stood there and spoke to him so nicely. Giving him the kind of moral support that many fathers lack.
When Zander swam freestyle he got tired at the end. (probably because he was late for the race and didn’t have time to catch his breath) However when he looked up and saw Quintus, it was as if he got extra strength. Just that little more energy that he needed.
I am hugely thankful for the love my children have for each other.
To anyone else, this is a photo of a child writing a story.
To me it is so, so much more. It’s my
dyslexic son, that uses spaces between his words. That’s writing in paragraphs. My son who put thought into the story. He took the time to think of a good introduction and ending.
He wasn’t worried about the spelling or how quickly he had to finish. There is no rush when you are a home schooled and spelling is helped by the cellphone.
By removing those two factors, he could focus on what is truly important when writing a short story.
I don’t know if we are getting it 100% right all the time. I don’t.
I look at that though and it seems like we are getting something right!
I had to smile at Jason last week. He asked me why I raised him so well. It would be so much easier if he didn’t always feel like he should do the right thing.
His teacher gave him 100% for a test and when he looked at it, he realized his teacher made a mistake and then told the teacher who adjusted his marks.
I would have done the same thing and I hope they will always do the right thing but it doesn’t always feel like the right thing to do!
Like Zander today. The A team is going to play paintball to celebrate an important win but the B team is practicing as normal. After lots of turmoil, he also decided that it is the right thing to practice.
I know how badly he wants to be a part of the A team, so understanding that he should not go is not easy for a 10 year old.
Proud of him for getting it though. Loyalty is important. Doing the right thing is eventually the right thing to do.
What a week.
My little son, who has the smallest heart, was broken this week.
Broken bones can be healed. A broken heart not so easily.
I stood outside the school grounds and saw him fall apart. I watched him stand up and just break.
I wasn’t even planning on being there but something just said to me that I should stay.
After playing thirteen games for the A team, after being in the starting 15, after playing full games the last 5 games, he wasn’t chosen to be in the team.
There was absolutely no reason for him to even think he wouldn’t be chosen. The little boy who was chosen in his place was ALWAYS the reserve player.
He stood there, in front of the “chosen ones” and my son broke. Burst out crying. The other 3 boys expected it and handled it much better.
He has the smallest heart but that whole heart is rugby. He loves rugby with every fiber in that little body.
I can say many bad things but will decline to do so. As it is I was called into the principal’s office.
I was told that it is time for him to face disappointments. For me to allow him to grow up.
Firstly he is 10.
But most importantly there is a massive difference between being disappointed and being treated unfairly. One can handle disappointment (like if they chose the team 13 matches ago and he wasn’t chosen then) and being treated unfairly, like now.
It’s like promising your employee that you will definitely give them a raise but by the time the raise is due, you call them in and fire them.
We were told that he would be in the team. It was discussed in front of him that he would be the wing.
There is nothing they can do to fix it now. The damage is done.
Maybe sorry? Maybe I wish we did it differently?
Damage done though.
Love how we are now being treated at school. Such a pleasure to not be greeted. Not by the parents though. They all feel for Zander, with some not agreeing with the decision at all.
I really have a hard time accepting the way it was handled. It’s sad that the situation is where it is at now, since he has to try out for the team again next year. With the same coach(es). I do hope that they won’t hold this whole situation against him. The boy who has been hurt by the way adults treated the situation.
He played B team rugby yesterday though. He came off the field with the biggest smile on his face. He played flank. The position I have felt he should play all along. The brothers, my dad, we all thought he would be a much better flank than a wing. Well he proved it yesterday. He made tackle after tackle. Moved from tackle to tackle all in one play.
I was so proud of him. His little heart is not healed but he has proved that his spirit can’t be broken.
Zander, we love you. We are proud of you regardless.
If I baby my kids, I’m sorry. I do know that I have awesome kids though. Caring children. Children who respect others.
I’m proud of my children. All of them.
Just don’t try to break one. I will stand there like an idiot in the principal’s office and cry like a baby. Unable to speak. I will stand up for them though. I will baby them if I have to. I will not let adults hurt them.
Now if you know me well enough or if you are ever with me when I watch rugby (next to the field or on TV) then you will know that it drives me insane when a rugby player is arrogant even before he scores a try. I have said a million times that I wish someone like that would drop the ball or get tackled behind the try line.
Well, this happened on Saturday and Zander was the tackler. I don’t think I have enjoyed a specific tackle that much ever!
It was the winning try for the opposing team. The player had managed to find his way through our players and was running behind the try line to score the try under the poles. Even before he put the ball down, he had his finger in the air and shouted “yes!”
As I looked at the try that was to be scored and felt my heart sink at the thought that we had lost the game, I saw Zander from the corner of my eye, running straight at the arrogant player. As the boy went to put the ball down, Zander tackled him. Hard enough to get his legs over of the dead ball line. So no try.
He did not realize it was not a try and together with the rest of the team (and parents) celebrated the try. The silence could be heard as they were called back for a scrum.
May this be a lesson to all . The try is only scored once you have put the ball down, not when you throw your finger in the air to celebrate the not-yet-scored try.
Also a great life lesson. It’s not over, until it’s over. Never just give up.
I so wish someone had taken a video of that. Or photos. My dad did not think to take photos of another team’s try, so I only have Zander’s reaction after the try was not scored.
When your dyslexic child gets 90 % for Afrikaans, you are blown away. Seriously blown away.
I know it might sound as if it’s impossible for a dyslexic child to get 90% for a language subject but he did it! It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have dyslexia. It means that he studied and studied and did his spelling and knew everything off by heart.
He has an amazing Afrikaans teacher and between the two of them, he got 90%!
I don’t have any illusions. I know it won’t always be like this. If you look at the photo below, you will understand why I’m so excited.
This is how he will start out with his first paper I give him to complete. He knows all the answers but the spelling is almost to the point where I can’t read it.
He will then have to work on spelling since he has to learn it off by heart. There won’t always be so few to learn. That’s when it will get really tough.
I am so very proud of him.
So very proud.
As in double digits.
As in a tween.
He was the smallest of our children. Only 2,7 kg. Barely a breath. Yet he has such a huge role in all our lives.
He is much loved by everyone who meets him.
Happy birthday Zander. Thank you for being that little boy we all needed but didn’t know that we did.
You are loved.
At Jason’s grade 7 prizegiving the school played a song that spoke to me so deeply. A song by a little girl who wasn’t invited to a school prizegiving. A letter she wrote to her granny, asking if she will ever be good enough to be invited.
I am thankful beyond words that our school is different. That every child really does count. It still brought tears to my eyes.
If it were a different school, one of my kids wouldn’t be invited. Not if it depended on academics. Even at his own prizegiving I looked at his little face, so proud of the achievements he received for sport (mostly for his rugby team’s achievements) but no mention of academics.
Then I got the school reports and you know what? I’m so proud. Proud of every single one of my kids.
Right from the one that decided not to study at all and still … uhm… did WAY above expectation, to the one who worked hard at maths and accounting the last term and increased with a percentage of 20 % and 40 % respectively. Also the one who has to worked harder than most and it showed. He improved in every single subject. Our girl child is also did well and got an award for academics.
Proud. Yes, beyond proud.
Was a good year. I learned probably more than all of them combined.
Life lessons, that is what I learned.
He has dyslexia.
He has dyslexia.
There. I have said it out loud. I have acknowledged it.
Wow, it physically hurts. Not because he has dyslexia. Because there will always be bullies. People who hurt him and I can’t protect him from that.
He also doesn’t talk about his feelings. Always smiles. Always. So I can’t take on a bully and explain to him that actually he is extremely clever. That people with dyslexia normally have an above average intelligence. That he works harder than 90 % of other kids his age. That he has occupational therapy that lasts over an hour. That he never gives up. That he doesn’t take days off or skip homework. That he isn’t lazy and that he is everything but stupid.
Please don’t call him stupid. Please don’t. He might not get the same marks on his report as you do but that does not make him stupid.
I think it’s safe to say that Richard Branson is not stupid. That Einstein was not stupid. That George Washington was not stupid. The list is endless.
Please don’t be an a-hole and hurt my son. He doesn’t deserve it.
It is difficult enough.
Just remember that he has to work differently, think differently, work harder than you. He will be used to it when he is a grown-up. He will be used to thinking out of the box and seeing things differently. He will stand out. Just like he does now but this time in a good way.
He might be the entrepreneur you have to work for one day. Someone like Bill Gates. When you look at your computer, remember that a Dyslexic person created Microsoft.
Please don’t bully him. He is not stupid.
Zander smiles probably 80 % of the day. He is always happy. People comment on how he smiles, regardless. He is a sweet natured child that seems to bubble happiness.
Yet on Thursday morning he said something that kind of popped my bubble.
Maybe he is not that happy. Maybe he is just a little bit less than we think.
We woke up early. Just the two of us. Well three, since his shadow (Fiela) was next to him.
He said in a matter of fact voice that he shares all his problems with Fiela. In the mornings before school. At night before bedtime. He talks to her.
I said that he is could talk to me about any worries or problems he has. He declined (and said that he didn’t want to hurt my feelings) but he is already sharing them with Fiela.
It’s just sad that he has worries and problems that I don’t know about.