Yesterday was Parent/Teacher conference day. I met with Stitch's teacher, and the first thing I asked was, "Is he acting normal?"
"Very normal, just different."
"Oh good. Sometimes I think that if he ever asked me for a Spiderman toy, I'd breathe a sigh of relief."
She told me he was doing very well in reading and writing. He's in the advanced group, in fact, and has proclaimed to the class that he is "a writer." He even wrote it on their whiteboard.
I didn't quite know what to think. He's taken to writing a lot at home, and I often find him in bed reading about his trains or indulging in comic books.
She did have some concerns about his lack of attention to detail. "Ask him anything about a book he's read, and he can tell you. His comprehension is phenomenal," she said. "But ask him to write down those details, and he won't do it. I know he CAN, he just WON'T."
I sighed. "It has to be his idea," I said. "If it's not his idea, he won't have anything to do with it. The same thing happens with skating. Tell him to practice and he won't. But let a good jivy number come on over the speakers and he will take to center ice and dance."
"He is also so sensitive," she went on. "Whenever I get stern, he thinks I am yelling. I'm not, I just have to be firm sometimes."
"Yes. He's like that with his coach as well. I'm working on that."
I was feeling a little mystified and scared. When Stitch was learning to read, it felt like a brick wall.
"What does that say?"
"I DON'T CARE."
"But it's a simple word."
"LEAVE ME ALONE."
Honestly I thought Kindergarten was going to be torture. But then something "clicked" in his head, and it was a torrent of understanding. Now he reads easily at a fourth grade level.
Writing was the same way.
"You have to write."
"I HATE IT."
"Just take your time."
"This isn't hard..."
"YES IT IS."
"Just sit and write. Write about anything."
"LEAVE ME ALONE."
But then something "clicked", and now he loves writing. He leaves notes for me, for dad, for teachers, everyone. He writes his own little comics, his own stories. The story he wrote for class was "something I'd expect to see published," said his teacher. His handwriting and spelling is atrocious, but once you translate, what you get is something with humor and insight.
She then told me that one day she was reading a story to the class, and Stitch became so moved by one of the passages that he stood up, hugged her for a moment and said, "Thank you for that story, Ms. Teacher." She is astounded at his patience, his tolerance of other students, his compassion. "You are blessed to have him."
"You should see his room."
Stitch hated the Ballet class, but when we went to skate Thursday evening, he was attempting to do a Splits on the ice. Coach wants him to come back, but I need to tell her, "Not yet. Give it time. He's not ready yet."
"Practice your crossovers."
"You just have to do ten in each direction."
"I CAN ALREADY DO THEM."
"But you cheat. You need to lean more into them."
"Hold out your arms."
"LEAVE ME ALONE."
At some point, something is going to "click", and I will relish that day. If history sets any precedent for Stitch, that day will be the day to watch.
He skated to his own tune last night. After I made him practice crossovers, he spun at center ice until he fell down, dizzy and laughing. I had told Teacher that I wanted Stitch to skate for exercise, for self confidence, as an outlet for that artistic side he so obviously has. She agreed with me; he needs a source of confidence and pride. Stitch has said that he wants to build his own railroad when he grows up, but a kid who dances and spins in my living room can't spend all day tied up in rails and steam.
So, I work at my motherhood surrounded by a mess of shredded paper, destroyed workbooks, posters of Jeremy Abbott and Michael Weiss, sometimes indecipherable poems and stories, and various gauges of model trains and tracks. I kiss him goodnight and note that his hair stinks of ice rink. I check on him as I go to bed, finding that he's arranged his pillows, blankets and stuffed animals into an ungainly "nest" with arms and legs poking out at uncomfortable angles. A book will typically thump to the floor, an old Junior Encyclopedia volume about steam engines that he is laboriously working through. I guess I am blessed without Spiderman.