He’s the teacher. I’m the student.

My life is a constant series of ups and downs.  It’s sometimes hourly, but more often it’s daily or every other day.  And then there are few higher level things that are every month or even every 6 months.  Does everyone feel like this?  I imagine so.

Berrik has good days and bad days.  The girls have good days and bad days.  I have good hours and some really crappy hours… and Kevin….well, same deal.  I wish I could say my good hours stretched out to good days or good weeks frequently….  Now I know this sounds like I’m perhaps depressed, or struggling.  I’m not.  I actually feel pretty good most of the time, even on the ‘downs’.  This is a skill Berrik has taught me.

Since he was a 2 year old, we’ve had many ups and downs.  He was very late to speak so those initial years of navigating the world of speech therapy had us riding a roller coaster of emotions that ran the whole gamut; fear, joy, hope, defeat, excitement, sadness, disappointment, guilt, and contentment.

This roller coaster has continued although in different forms, and not just with Berrik.  It’s part of parenting, part of living, part of loving and being connected to people.  Unavoidable as a human, as far as I can tell.  What makes the difference is how you ride the roller coaster.  What I have learned to do over the years, is when I’m speeding down the hill and my stomach is in my throat, I remind myself that I may spiral upside down next, but eventually will be back on the slow, steady uphill climb.  I try not to focus on the fact that this roller coaster ain’t ending until I reach my ‘final destination’ if you catch my morbid drift.  I don’t always keep my crap together when I’m upside down or speeding down a hill, but I am fortunate to have parents, a husband, siblings and some really wonderful friends to talk me down if I get too freaked out.

All this to say, we are currently going up and down like a bunch of maniacs.  Berrik had some test results come back recently that showed that the yeast overgrowth in his poor little gut came back.  I was not surprised as I could see the symptoms in him.  But it was disheartening because this kid has completely avoided sugar and yeast since January 2016, and the only ‘sugar-like’ substances in his diet have been fruit, potatoes, and the odd gluten free bun or pancake. However, when I went to discuss all the test results with the doc, she was quite pleased with everything that she’s seeing, and we created a plan to address the yeast and a few other things…. so while I was feeling like we were going down, we are actually doing ok.

Berrik’s school is going really well overall. But some hours don’t go well (which is usually because I’ve chosen a method of learning that doesn’t suit him in that moment).  And while I sincerely believe that it is my responsibility to figure out how he learns best and support him to learn in that way, it doesn’t mean that I feel all zen when he refuses to engage.  The yeast symptoms exacerbate this little phenomenon.  Yay me.  Poor Berrik.  These things are completely out of his control.  These are not the symptoms of an undisciplined kid who just needs to get in line and do what I say (wouldn’t life be easier if my kids would just do what I say?).  So when I am feeling particularly un-zen-like and am ready to put my head through the drywall, I remind myself that Berrik is also not having much fun in this moment, for reasons he understands, but cannot do anything about.

We have had some major ‘successes’ since June…some that were so incremental that I didn’t really notice until a few months had gone by and then it hit me how far he has come.  Others, like last week at school, are big all at once, when he is focused all day, excited about what he’s learning, telling me all about it, and grasping concepts that were foreign to him the week before.  And there have been some things that I was sure he had mastered, and then I realize we aren’t quite there yet.  Up and down.  Up and down.  I may be Berrik’s teacher when it comes to schoolwork.  But he is setting the example for how to ride the roller coaster. He seems to just take everything as it comes.  Sure he has his moments where he is annoyed that we are getting in the car to drive his sisters somewhere, again, and we are counting by 2s and 5s or playing rhyming games.  Or when he is tired of putting his food into an increasingly complex pattern before eating it, “not EVERYTHING has to be about learning MOM!!!!”  But considering all he’s been through, and what he has ahead, he is not the one who loses sleep or worries over the future.  He’s going to be a ninja and an astronaut when he grows up.  An astronaut because he wants to travel to space, and a ninja in case he encounters evil when he gets there.  He dreams big because he believes that if you work hard, anything is possible.  He knows this because he has already lived that experience many times in many ways in his nearly 8 years.   He’s the teacher.  I’m the student.

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