Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Trouble with Harry: How a Kid Who Couldn’t Keep His Hands to Himself Learned to Settle

“Harry” was a hot mess when his grandmother brought him to me for remedial reading –  something I am qualified to do and found rewarding for many years.

It took all of three minutes to discover that the wiry six-year-old could not, or would not, sit up in a chair. He wilted and slithered down in his seat like a reptile, ending up on the floor.

I wondered how I could teach him.

Harry’s Mimaw was caring for him during the day that summer. She explained that he had been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  Quite a line-up for a kid his age. But upon hearing Harry’s history, I could understand why.

He had been neglected by his mother, his grandmother told me. And emotionally abused by his mother’s second husband. But Harry adored the bleached blond, heavy-set woman – his bio-dad’s mom. He never wanted to leave her side. If she had not sought me out, I would never have seen Harry, or been able to help him.

Harry came to my house three times a week through the hot, sticky months, and after the school year started, I provided the language arts component of his curriculum. He continued making progress. Not only was he reading, but writing in cursive, which I teach in tandem with phonics and spelling . It’s a multi-sensory approach. Perfect for kids like Harry.

He learned to sit in his chair. No more reptile meltdowns  – although there were moments when he dissociated – just punched out of reality and stared into space. (Other times he thought he was a velociraptor.) And Harry absolutely could not (and I mean COULD NOT) keep his little hands from darting out and touching everything at least once – even a paperclip. the principal's office Harry had to repeat kindergarten. On his first day back to school he was sent to principal’s office for aggressive behavior, an omen of hard times ahead. Continue reading

Want to Raise Kids Who Give a Damn? Start with a Simple Box of Crayons

The first grade boy looked at the crayons scattered under the table. Then he looked at me. “They’re not mine,” he said.

And technically he was right. They came from a communal bin. That’s the way schools want it. Everything belongs to everybody, and nothing belongs to anyone.

.scattered crayons

I told him I didn’t care who the crayons belonged to. Pick them up anyway.

And he did.

Maybe he resented the task for the same reason public employees often treat the people they serve as a nuisance. Continue reading

County Clerk Kim Davis: Be a Team Player or Get off the Field

You’ve probably heard of Kim Davis by now. The county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, has been in the news recently for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. Actually, news reports say Davis, an elected official, hasn’t issued any marriage licenses since the ruling.

But since when do we get to be poor losers under God’s authority? That’s the excuse Davis gave for not providing service to the gay couples who crowded her office this week.

Don’t we teach our children to do better than that? That if they break the rules, they don’t get to play ball?  We certainly don’t urge them on in the name of God. Continue reading