Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Testimony of Daily Manna

A couple days ago Peter was reading an Animal Ark chapter book and came upon a just-thrown-in-there sentence about dolphins once living on land; it had nothing to do with the story. He brought the book to me, read the sentence to me, and asked if it was part of evolution. Sadly, I confirmed yes, it was. He'd read four other Animal Arks in the previous couple weeks, finding nothing offensive. While I was proud of him for recognizing an ungodly idea, I knew that him finding this flaw wasn't good.

Angry, scared, he threw the book on the floor, saying he wasn't going to read anymore of them. "That author's not Christian! I'll go back to Boxcar Children."

Boxcar Children, while nice books, have become a crutch for his OCD. He spent his entire third grade year reading mysteries, and spent at least four months on Boxcar Children. He still grew leaps and bounds as a reader, so I let it go. He read an hour a day toward the end of the year, but much more than that earlier in the year, by choice.

I have a friend whose daughter has OCD and one of her fears is that she will vomit in public. My Peter's greatest fear has to do with spiritual corruption. His mind tells him that if he reads about an ungodly idea, he will shirk his Christian roots and become a pagan.

Just today we were garage sale hunting for a couple things the boys need for a homeschool soccer class. We passed a yard sale outside a small business, and the boys asked me to stop.

"No, that's a palm reader store.  No thanks on that. We'll look somewhere else."

"Is that like a fortune teller?" Peter asked. Then for several hours his mind drove him nuts, telling him he would bow to palm readers and say goodbye to Christianity. Martin Luther, I mentioned before, had this same religious-distortion OCD and ending up starting the Protestant Reformation, with its emphasis on grace versus works. Luther's mind drove him to dark places, and grace saved him, in more ways than one.

Our fallen world is full of pain, but God uses it for good--redeeming it for His glory. Every Christian parent dealing with disorder clings to this truth.

Putting Peter on medication for OCD may become necessary in a couple years, according to the doctor, but clinging to me in stores and refusing to read anything but Boxcar Children shouldn't be one of the reasons, since neither is debilitating. Doctor agreed, and said if Peter gets to a point of refusing to leave the house, we have to go with medication. If you ask me, the clinging in stores is not OCD but agoraphobia, which my grandfather had to a debilitating extent. It's the fear of crowds and not having an escape from them. When we go anywhere crowded, Peter is extremely nervous, refusing to leave my side or let go of my arm. The medication is the same, according to the doctor, for both OCD and agoraphobia, so whether a patient has one or both of them is irrelevant, in terms of seeking relief.

When your child has a dysfunction you want to scream and cry about the tragedy of it all. But the day to day dealing with issues renders you so busy, there's no time to cry.  I suppose that's a good thing.

One thing I'm sure of.....I can't in good conscience go another year giving in to his fears, as they relate to his education. From our most intimate conversations I know Peter to be an introspective person in love with the larger meaner of life. His mind craves ideas. Knowing this, and staring down at the chapter book thrown on the floor, I began to panic about preparing for another school year.

What in the world am I supposed to give this kid to read, God? Help!

What God seemed to say is that I must build Peter's trust in my choice of literature. Well, Peter trusts Christian material, hoping that in it he won't find evolution, witches, magic, sorcery or any other dark idea just waiting to steal his mind away from Christ. All these things scare him.

There isn't enough Christian material out there! I believe strongly that reading for an hour a day exposes children to the amount of language they need to become fluent writers and able speakers. You can teach mechanics all you want, but the ability to deftly combine words into flowing language comes only from books. A lot of them! Not the amount most kids get from commercial curriculums, which are too packed with time-consuming extras......stealing away precious reading time.

Okay.....I guess that was a soapbox? Sorry.

My first thought was to order chapter books recommended by a Christian curriculum company, knowing that a company with a Christian label would give Peter some comfort up front.

Well, I checked Amazon's used section and ordered and paid $56 dollars for 13 chapter books recommended by Sonlight--a popular but pricey, literature-based Christian curriculum company (though the book lists aren't necessarily Christian). Problem is, with friend Jessica's help, I realized that I'd inadvertently ordered from a grade 4/5 list that included books for ages 7 - 9. I was looking at the grade level and didn't notice the ages (Peter will be ten in January). Publisher websites drive me insane...especially with four young'uns at my elbows!

I checked the levels on five of them and found them to be between the 4th and 6th grade reading levels, but the age specification is more for Paul's maturity level, so these 13 books will go to Paul, who is eight in November. He prefers to teach himself and doesn't need me or my curriculum plans, thank you very much. Peter is such a handful that Paul is my grace gift from the Lord, in terms of homeschooling. The best thing I can do is leave him alone academically and concentrate on his heart learning.

After my buying frenzy on Amazon--where, by the way, you can get paperback books for one cent plus $3.99 shipping--I was still at square one for Peter.

And since this is getting so long, I'll tell you the good parts another time.

But here is a resource hint. The Lord drew me to this resource today, which I purchased several months ago. And yes, I did blog about this book previously, but not in a very helpful way.

The Lord drawing me to it today was a reminder of the daily manna always waiting for me. He'll put a holistic school year together for me. I need only obey!

Front Cover


Andrew & Terri said...

Sonlight was such a good idea! Sorry it didn't work out like you had planned. :( I could probably come up with some ideas, but I don't know if they would be just exactly what he needs. I am glad the Boxcar Children seem safe to him..but I suppose he can't read those forever! I just checked _Honey for a Child's Heart_ out of the library this week and I can't wait to dig into it. I've been wanting to suggest a book to you that I just finished called _The Minds of Boys_. It's a research-based look at the differences between how boys and girls learn. It also include chapters on ADD/ADHD and other brain disorders. I found it to be fascinating! Maybe it could give you another piece of the puzzle?

Christine said...

Thank you, Terri. I'll look for that book this week. It probably will provide some insight into Peter's unique learning needs.

Paul has watched our library closely these last couple weeks for the new installment of Magic Tree House, which released to the market Aug. 9th. I hope they receive it this week!

Sandi said...

I so get this friend. I have had my panicky moments wth our new year coming. There has been much more peace (less opposition) with out any structured learning going on. The way you describe Peter, My oldest has some of those tendencies just around different things. I have just recently started to really see that it is anxiety driven. Part of me doesn't want another child with these kinds of struggles.....but ya know God WILL provide for both of us and each of our kids. I have to remember that relationship comes over the academics...when I am able to let go it all goes much better. But it is such a balancing act to know when to push these kids and when to back off.
That book suggestion looks interesting.

Christine said...

Sandi, are there any anxieties or phobias in your family, either side? If you see something of concern family history will usually provide clues. True anxieties show up around seven years old or later.....before that anxieties are considered normal child development.

I am praying, friend! I know the heaviness of it all.