Steffen is a straight “A” student. He’ a charmer, athletic, hard worker, plays the trumpet well, very musically inclined, and is on track to be the youngest person in our Ward to earn the rank of Eagle Scout by the tender age of fourteen. He takes honor classes, also high school Algebra (even though he is in middle school). He’s the president of the Deacon quorum and takes the responsibility of passing the Sacrament very seriously. He competes in gymnastics (although he’s taking the year off), tutors in the STARS reading program, and wants to be a medic when he grows up. However, he’s always debating me. I can see him becoming a lawyer instead. He’s a little on the small size and he hates it. His nickname is "Gerbil." He’s barely five feet tall. Last week, while starting a new middle school, students and staff questioned whether he was in the right classroom—six grade was down the hall, they told him. (By the way, he’s an eighth grader). He’s all Army, all the time—and will only sport a high and tight hair cut. I adore him like all my children, yet wish he wasn’t so down on himself. For a child who is good at so many things, he hates to lose and thinks life is rough and unfair.
Joseph is in fifth grade and struggles in both reading and math. He’s only reading at the third grade level and was diagnosed with aspergers two years ago by world-renowned autism specialist Glenn Tripp, and although Grapeview reluctantly tested Joseph last year, they said he did not qualify for special education, so he receives no support services other then the STARS reading program. Grapeview has never done Joseph any favors when it comes to his education and has been a source of deep frustration for all of us. He has repeated Kindergarten and still has not reached a maturity level you see in most eleven-year olds. He’s tall, and I have no doubt, he’s going to be tall like his older brother, but maybe not 6’8.” Unlike most children with aspergers, he makes friends easily, likes to be the center of attention at times, and is often the class-clown. However, there are times he does not like attention, whether positive or negative and acts very inappropriately. At other times, he loves to perform and acts out puppet shows for his class. We struggle with him to do his homework nightly, as well taking any personal responsibilities i.e. person hygiene, cleaning his room, doing chores, etc. and have taken lots of effort to find activities he wants to do: baseball, soccer, karate, swimming, gymnastics were all a bust. He also did not like playing in the band last year, nor likes going to church, and scouts he could take it or leave it. At the school’s open house the other night, my husband and I were surprised to find Joey’s desk far away from the other desks and facing the wall. We both raised an eyebrow and questioned the teacher. She said she had to move him away from the other children because he tends to be disruptive, yet has accepted this as his spot and focuses better when alone. For a child who is not a special needs child, they sure do seem to go out of their way to treat him differently. Joseph wants to be a comedian like Jeff Dunham when he grows up. Yet, he’s still my baby and likes to cuddle—I’m going to miss this.
Yes, they are all different, however I love them for their strengths and failures and even when they push my buttons.