Sunday, September 29, 2013

Meteors, Dyslexia, Tea Baggers and Lemonade

So, it's Sunday. I read about meteors flying over the mid-West, and Ted Cruz, the heinous Tea Bagger senator from Texas who won't give up his paycheck if the government is shut down but thinks it's all right that 800,000 soldiers will have theirs frozen. I fostered a pretty spirited debate on Facebook about the merits of the Affordable Care Act, and how it's going to help so many of us despite its problems. I feel nervous that the Tea Baggers are going to prevail and wish they'd all calm down and let the reform play out. I'm weary of the people who constantly whine about how our political discourse has disintegrated and wish they'd stop whining and say something in addition to how our political discourse has disintegrated. And yes, I'm perfectly aware that it's the Tea Party and not the Tea Baggers. They'll always be tea baggers to me, and I don't give a damn if it's offensive.

 Oliver is outside hawking lemonade again and cupcakes, this time, in an effort to raise money for fishing supplies and the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. I had a talk last night with a friend's boyfriend who told me about his fascinating youth, growing up in Nebraska, how he was always in trouble, on the road, really, to jail,  his unruly behavior in part due to what was later determined to be dyslexia. It all turned out fine -- more than fine -- and that turning out happened when he learned of his strengths, not his deficits, when his mother persevered, when he made drastic and dramatic changes in his life. I'm reading a book by Ben Foss called The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, and it's illuminating. Sometimes, when I read Foss' descriptions of himself in childhood, I feel as if I'm reading about Oliver, and little by little my gut instincts about my remarkable child are affirmed. When Oliver was young -- let's say three or four -- he was already such a pistol, as my father would say, that we would shake our heads and laugh, ruefully. A neighbor who has a powerful job in publicity once told me that she is always nice to Oliver because one day we're all going to be working for him. The book is not about overcoming learning disabilities but finding one's strengths and recognizing that dyslexia -- disability -- is just part of one's identity, something to accept, to almost embrace. Simple -- but radical -- stuff.  I think, sometimes, that part of my job with Oliver is to literally get him through school and out, to support him in whatever way I can and to guide him to constantly see his strengths and pursue them.

I price my lemonade at $.75. he says. Because most people will give me a dollar and tell me to keep the change.

So, Ted Cruz? Overcome him like a disease. Oliver? Help him to accept his dyslexia and discover his strengths.

What's up with you, Reader?


  1. You are a marvelous mother, Elizabeth. Have faith in that Oliver. As I always told my kids "Perseverance will get you more than just about anything else in this life". It made me smile to see him out there again with his lemonade stand and canny sales technique. x0 to you and O, N2


  2. Well, my son doesn't have dyslexia, but "get him through high school and out" became my mantra for him beginning around 10th grade! And it wasn't easy, but he's now happy as a clam in art school.

    Meanwhile, Annika called for me from the living room where she was doing homework and I found her kneeling in front of her chair saying "I just felt really dizzy." Ugh - I've got a feeling I know what that was, but she didn't want to talk about it (not surprising). I warned her that she was going to need to describe it in detail to the doctor when we see him on Wednesday.

    Other than that, it's just a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia. And if I wasn't 3000 miles away I'd stop by for some of those amazing cupcakes!

  3. Jessie had a terrible reading disorder but with great strength on her part and an amazing and lovely teacher, she has done very, very well and uses the skills she had to develop in all parts of her life. I see that in her and I am blown away.
    So it will be with Oliver.
    As to the Tea Baggers- they can go...well. You know.

  4. I'm heating water for tea. Each time I dunk in the bag, I pretend that it is ted cruz. I'll be reading Sonya Sotomayor's memoir while dunking and drinking. I'm confident Oliver will be just fine.


  5. where is my comment??
    anyway, I think your neighbor in publicity is probably right - clever pricing.

  6. Oliver is amazing for so many reasons. He lights up the world. And he'd hate me, because I would not be able to resist those cheeks.

  7. When my son (now 24) was struggling big time in middle school, the wonderful principal explained that some kids just needed to hang on until they could physically get out of middle school. High school was only a tad bit better, but he hit his stride in college, and now, in law school. He just didn't fit the "mold" in junior high and high school - I think he felt powerless among all the "gifted" athletes and scholars and cool kids. His teachers thought he was going to flip burgers for the rest of his life. I refer to those days as the "dark days" when he wore all black and lived on his skateboard but I never gave up on him. Loved him to death and told him he had amazing things to look forward to. Diagnosed with ADHD at age 22. Now he's #1 in his law school class and loves the fact that he can argue for a well-paid living. There is justice in the world... It all works out. Just continue to be his #1 fan - Oliver is destined for greatness with you behind him.

  8. I can only believe in karma at this point. Ted Cruz and the other TBs will get what they have cooked up - not soon enough for my taste, but it will happen - and Oliver? He will continue to shine his light into the world and have it reflected back at him wherever he goes. Not a bad scenario, I suppose, although if I were in charge it would all happen much more quickly and definitively.

  9. That young man is something very special. Dyslexia will open deepen him. I am so glad he has you to mirror how extraordinary he is back to him. You see it clearly. And a business whizz too!

  10. I would have described my job with C much the same. It did not work out quite like I expected. She amazed me even more--but first there was the not finishing school part. And I can tell you NOW that was great. I couldn't quite tell you that then. I'll bet O will amaze you even more than you can guess. .75 indeed!



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