My son, Oliver, is nine years old and struggles mightily with reading and writing. He was recently diagnosed with a learning disability, and when I sat at his IEP, I thought to myself Really? I'm at an IEP with another child? Don't I get a pass? Evidently not, and I can attest to many agonizing moments with The Big O as we struggle together with his homework. The learning issues, combined with a personality that is about as far from meek and mild as one can get, and my own often teetering on the edge lack of patience make for blazing fires and shouts and breakdowns. The drama! The drama!
So, as I was folding laundry in my room last night, Oliver walked in with his spiral notebook and read this poem to me.
A dream isn't just anything
It is like a spirit deep down in our soul
Like a black hole waiting to be opened
like flowing water trying to escape
I thought, for a moment, that he had copied it from somewhere and I asked him where he'd heard it.
I wrote it, Mom! he said. It's my homework.** And he showed me the page in his notebook that I've copied above.
I know, you can't read it, he said, I'm a terrible speller.
I felt like crying when he read it to me again. Not because I had doubted him but because I just felt overwhelmed by him and his presence -- his strange and wild person-hood. The drama! The drama! The love. I knelt beside him and put my hands on his shoulders. He let me pull him into a hug as I exclaimed over the beauty of what he'd written and then agreed to show it to all of you.
**He is currently working on memorizing a Langston Hughes poem called A Dream Deferred and the assignment was to write a poem in that style. When I looked up the Hughes poem, I half-expected to see Oliver's poem, verbatim, or at least some of the words plagiarized. I found nothing. Oliver told me that he liked the way the poet compared things. I'm still amazed.