When Chris Hunt’s son needed help, Riley’s mother did what all good parents do – she put his needs first
I didn’t see it. Truth be told, I thought everything was fine. But as my son sadly put his head on the kitchen table, the concern on his mother’s exhausted face was vivid.
She saw what I didn’t. She knew something was wrong.
In the months after starting the school year, we noticed a decided lack of enthusiasm when he was asked to do his homework. I didn’t think much of it. The curriculum was being taught in French, while we speak mostly English at home. And besides that, what six-year-old wants to spend his free time buried in schoolwork?
He would feign lethargy in an attempt to avoid reading or doing math. We’d persist, and then he’d deliberately get the answers wrong. It seemed he was just hurling answers out there hoping one would be right.
We tried to help, of course.
We nudged him along by sounding out the letter sounds and we’d offer our fingers as counting utensils. He’d get the answers eventually, after some prodding. But then we’d ask him to go over what we’d just done and he’d become defensive.
He’d tell us he didn’t remember what that word we’d just read was. And forget about counting at any length. His mother got frustrated in the beginning. She thought he was being lazy. I thought he was just tired. We’d normally do his homework in the evenings. What kid is intellectually at his best after a long day of colouring?
This pattern of fighting to do his homework persisted for weeks and it was always the same. Reluctance and then resistance.
I didn’t think it was such a big deal, even after we met with his teacher who expressed some concerns. His attention span in class wasn’t the greatest and he’d often forget basic instruction. The example she used was asking him to bring her a folder but instead, he brought her a pencil.
We were told he’s a good kid. He’s eager, kind and empathetic. Certainly not lazy. But for some reason he just wasn’t getting the curriculum.
He’s still young, I said. Younger than the vast majority of his classmates. Give him some time to grow and catch up.
His mother disagreed. He failed a math test, she said.
But he passed the most recent one. I responded. Just barely, but …
She wasn’t convinced.
On the evening my son put his head on the table, she realized something wrong. A few moments before, he’d tried to sound out a basic word but couldn’t do it.
“Riley,” she began, “I literally just told you what that word was.”
He didn’t look at her as he responded. He looked at the ground.
“I don’t remember! I told you mama. I just don’t remember.”
And then he put his head on the table, the look of frustration and sadness on his face was so sincere it was heartbreaking.
And this is where my son’s mother proved to be a super parent. She admitted to herself she may have been wrong about our boy being lazy.
And then she went on the offensive. She researched possible causes. She liaised with his teacher about what we could do at home. She sought expert advice from people in the municipality and she organized a meeting with his teachers and principal and asked for help.
And she got it. Turns out my boy likely has working memory problems. He now has a personalized learning plan and specialized help at school.
Sure, there are still days when he fights homework, but there’s been a marked improvement. Some days he plows through books. Sometimes he’ll count just for fun.
And it wouldn’t have been possible if his mother hadn’t donned her Super Mommy cape and flew to her son’s rescue.