He screamed these words every night. Each time the words were louder, more aggressive and followed by a tantrum of epic proportions. One Saturday afternoon, eight month ago, his conniption included him forcing himself to cough and scream just hard enough to throw up on my kitchen counter.
“You can’t make me! I hate it! I’m not going to do it!”
The tantrums continued and our fury and frustration progressed. These episodes occurred for a total of three and a half years. The prognosis was far from hopeful. Sleep was lost, tears were cried and bickering ensued, but still he screamed, refused and would not participate.
“I hate it! I hate it!”
I could hear these words echo through my house even when he was not present. I could see into his future and felt utter sadness and pain. I felt lost and longed for him to have a path. My boy, my step-son, could not effectively read. CB would not read.
Hours, days, weeks, months and years of these fits of fury and he was still determined to avoid everything that included reading. A few months ago I had to implement a fairly severe behavior plan in order to provide a high level of structure and expectation for him. Completing homework was one of the behaviors that we needed to reshape. Much to CB’s chagrin; reading is part of daily homework.
As suspected, he was not amused with the nightly assignments of reading for thirty minutes and then writing sentences about what he had read. His reading was so slow and laborious that it was painful to listen to him struggle. CB continued to argue, fight and throw his tantrums. I could feel his frustration with having to do something that he didn’t want to do and I could feel his pain of being asked to do something that he did not feel any level of success in doing. The lack of confidence acted like a monster truck crushing his ten year old soul.
The nights went on and he started to fight less and less. The screams were beginning to quiet.
“I hate it! I hate it!”
CB was reading in the living room yesterday afternoon. He had been reading all day to make up for the work that he failed to complete during the school week. He called my name and asked me to come in and talk to him. He’s trying to stall and get out of reading. This is all that passed through my thoughts.
I slowly walked to the room and I stood before him. He spoke, “Do you think that the author of this book wrote more books? I really like this series. Do you think that if I finish all of my work that we could go to the bookstore and get some more books for me to read?”
I am not a godly person, but I am fairly certain that the heavens parted and something magical fell from the sky. As the words fell from his mouth I felt a flood of euphoria flowing through my body. It started at the top of my head as a tingling feeling and spread through my entire being an inch at a time. I pursed my lips as tightly as I could in order to refrain from smiling. I did not want to interfere with this moment, his moment.
In 44 words CB told me that he had won the race, climbed and reached the top of the mountain, received the gold medal, graduated at the top of his class, won the World Series and won the election. In 44 words CB sung his song of glory. In 44 words CB made the winning basket at the final buzzer. In 44 words the three and a half year fight was over and there were no losers. In 44 words CB described his victory that will last him a lifetime. In 44 words CB told me that he could read.