Over the minutes that followed, I wasn’t surprised my daughter’s name wasn’t called. It’s not that I don’t believe in her, it’s just that I’d seen the tears, shredded papers, broken pencils and massive meltdowns that were her experience with math over the years.
How different would that day be?
At the end of the ceremony, the teacher announced, “And now for the awards for the top students…”
She called my daughter’s name.
It punched the wind out of me. Tears poured down my cheeks. I grinned at my girl through a mess of emotion—pride, surprise, relief, admiration… hope. Probably twenty other emotions too, but I was too focused on her smile to care.
Fast forward two years. She’s in seventh grade at an art magnet school where she employs her love for precision mixed with a half dozen developmental diagnoses and a whole lot of moxie. The art makes her heart soar.
Math, though, has been a failing proposition since the day she grinned from behind that Top Student certificate.
Part of it is because her teachers have 130 kids on their rosters and none of the math teachers are as attentive as the one my kiddo had in elementary school. Part of it is that my daughter now has her half-dozen diagnoses plus puberty to spice things up. A big part is that a few failures her first year of middle school sent my child with panic-level anxiety into mental hiding in the subject that had betrayed her.
By a month ago, she and I had made peace with it. She was content to hate-but-attempt math as long as she could love the other core subjects and her art electives, and her math teachers at least attempted to follow the IEP accommodations so she didn’t feel like the class dummy.
(It’s sad, the ways we settle sometimes, isn’t it? I suppose it’s necessary for this intense journey as parents of special needs kids, but it still breaks my heart when I allow a moment to get honest with myself.)
But you know what? Even when we fall prey to human exhaustion and partial solutions, God’s not forgotten our kids. He’s fighting for our kids to know abundant life too—not just to scrape by with some half-version of his goodness.
I awoke to that fact when I got an email from the teacher who gave my daughter that math certificate. She teaches my fifth grader this year, and became aware somehow that math was now my oldest’s nemesis.
In the flurry of emails and calls that followed her discovery of the situation, she’d taken over advocacy for my oldest daughter, connected with the math teacher, obtained assignments, and asked me to bring my oldest to her class for tutoring every Wednesday because it was simply unacceptable that my daughter would hate a subject that she’d dominated two years earlier.
Just like at that ceremony, my lungs failed, tears flowed, joy radiated so strong my skin felt hot with excitement. Because of this teacher’s fierce care, my daughter is now passing math in a mainstream seventh grade classroom.
And instead of breaking pencils, she’s experiencing breakthroughs with concepts that she’s battled for two years.
Friends, that’s our God. The one who’s in the business of shocking us with “more than we could ever ask or even imagine” (see Ephesians 3:20). Who, even when we doubt it, “works in [our kids, their circumstances, their former teachers, and our own hearts], both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Let’s keep leaving that door of hope cracked open today. God has not forgotten you… or your child.