Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry

He knew it cold.  He knew it backwards, forwards, and inside out.  He even knew a couple words of it in Korean.

I pulled the master aside to talk to him privately, asking one of the instructors to translate.

“Benjamin is a good boy.  A good, good boy.  He tries hard, and he really wants to please you.  And he is smart.  But he is slower than other children when you ask him a question.  It takes longer for it to go in and for him to answer.”  The master, who had understood up till this point, turned to the instructor whose English is far better.  I waited as he translated.  Then I went on.

“He has worked hard to know ‘The Easy Way is No Way.’  But if you ask him with another child, he won’t be able to answer as fast as the other kids.  He will get frustrated and give up.”  By this point, I was starting to tear up.  “Please, please, test him alone.  I just want him to understand that he is as smart as his brother is.”

The master nodded and said something slowly in Korean.  The instructor translated.  “He understands and agrees with you.  But sometimes he thinks it’s good for children to learn from their mistakes.”

“But it wasn’t his mistake!  He knew it.  It was his brother’s mistake.”

The master nodded again and replied to me himself.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll take care of it.”

The instructor gave Ben a practice run during the lesson.  Then, when the lesson was over, they sent him out to me.  He began to whimper.  “What’s wrong?” asked the master.

“I want a tiger patch,” Ben said.

The master, clearly having forgotten to test him, called him back in.  Fabulous.  Get him upset, then test him.  He began strong, but as the questions went on, his voice got softer and softer.  He had just been asked these questions so many times – at home, last lesson, during this lesson – and still no one had given him a tiger patch.  Why should he trust that he wouldn’t be sent out of this lesson empty-handed, too?

He is slower to process questions than his peers.  We’ve suspected this for a long time.  He is not just one of those people who thinks things through first.  In fact, he tends to do and think at exactly the same time. When in a group, he is fully a part of the conversation, unless it is a Socratic question/answer situation.  Then, he takes so long to process the question that the lesson has moved on without him and he gives up.

But he didn’t give up this time.  And now he has a tiger patch.

12 responses to “Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry

  1. and that tiger patch? It made me smile.

  2. YEAH! Go Ben!

    It is hard to watch them struggle like that.

  3. Woot! Huzzah! Henry is quite similar – for him, I truly think it is equivalent to the time it takes for him to cope with and overcome all the extra sensory input and process the actual question. But once he is given the time, it’s all in there for sure!
    Go Tiger Patch!

  4. Yay! Congrats to Ben!

  5. Way to go for Ben!!!! And way to go for you sticking up for him and paving the way. My kids are both generally bright kids, but each of them has a particular challenge that their teachers never acknowledged or even actively denied. From that I’m extrapolating (maybe wrongly) that it’s probably pretty common for individual kids to have some specific learning challenge but that it isn’t recognized or addressed unless it’s so extreme that it’s disruptive in the class or the child can’t make the year. Kids who are bright and compensating end up frustrated about a subject or feeling bad. They don’t get help unless their parents spot it and do something about it on their own.

  6. Depending on the difficulty, a child might isolate it to the subject or generalize it if it is something that applies across the board as a skill.

  7. Good. Because I was seriously about to embroider one for him myself. And I don’t even know how to embroider.

  8. Yay! Tiger patch. So happy for B.

  9. Kudos!

    As an involved parent, you know your child best and you have the will and follow through to be his advocate.

  10. Way to go, kid!!

  11. I’m so glad that he finally, finally got his patch.