My mom knew something was wrong in the way that only a mom can know. I had been struggling with school all the way through fifth grade and now I had brought home the evidence in the form of D on my report card. As I tried to explain what was going on, my Mom could see the pain in my eyes of trying to produce the work that I was capable of and just not doing so. At that point in my life, I not only had bad grades, but was also being labeled as a trouble maker in school. Things were certainly headed in the wrong direction.
To put things in a little perspective, I was a precocious child with lots of energy and a curiosity for life that was uncontainable. Today I would probably be classified as ADD, but back then, they just tried to keep me away from sugar. I still don’t understand the sugar thing, but it was supposed to keep me from getting hyper. As a result, I started school early and loved it, even though I was height challenged from day one. I can still remember winning the contest in kindergarten for being the one who could scrunch themselves up into the smallest ball. How creative of my teacher to think of that one. Maybe another reason that she knew that I was unique occurred after I came in from the weekend and she asked the class why there was less water in the fish bowl and I blurted out “evaporation” as a four year old.
In second grade I moved with my family to the island of Trinidad and began attending the school for missionary kids that had been organized to serve the needs of the growing mission’s families serving in this country. The school was small and met in two rooms with one teacher for all of us. Most of the teaching required kids in different grades to interact and since most of them were older and bigger than I was, I was was at a significant disadvantage whenever we had an academic competition of any kind. This combined with a growing disconnect between the teacher and myself made the years from second through fifth the worst of my short educational career to date. By the time I got that D, I had begun to think that maybe I really was stupid just like others had begun to think of me.
As you can imagine, my mother did not agree. She knew that I loved to read and that I was always asking questions and was very concerned that a spark of curiosity seemed to be dying in me. That summer a new teacher was scheduled to arrive on the island and she hoped that this would be the beginning of a turn around for me. As God’s providence would have it, the husband of the new teacher was involved in a serious car accident and she never came. My mom then made a choice that would change my life forever. She chose me.
That’s right, she chose to teach at our little two room school house for my sixth grade year. This was not an easy decision for her as I had two younger siblings that were not in school yet and needed to be cared for too. Amazingly, God provided the perfect person, a woman named Carol, to be with my sisters during the day and my mom taught us at the school. Immediately, I began to enjoy school again and came alive academically. Ironically, this was also a pivotal year for other kids who had struggled like I did.
As a result of this incredible sacrifice on my mother’s part, my precocious curiosity was channeled in the right direction and I began to excel academically. By the time I went off to boarding school in 11th and 12th grade, I was regularly getting A’s and was able to make the honor roll. Consequently, I received an academic scholarship to college and eventually went on to earn a masters degree. None of this would likely have happened if my mom had not stepped in when she did. For that and many other things I will be eternally grateful.
Being a mother brings along many choices and hard decisions. I am so glad that my mom made a choice that redirected my path forever. As I think of my role as a parent, I can only hope to follow in her footsteps in some small way with my boys. Happy Mother’s Day Mom.