Friday, April 15, 2011

The Beauty of Potential

I love it when I find something that has been discarded or passed by unnoticed and for a moment see in my mind's eye how it could become something wonderful, something to bless the world with its beauty, if only someone would take the time to sand it, paint it, fix it, or plant pretty flowers in it.

I was thinking along those lines when prospective buyers came to look through our house. We hadn't even put it on the market yet, but they had heard from a friend that it would be up for sale soon, drove by and wanted to see the inside. After a day of cleaning up, my house was at its best for the moment. There were still a few things we hadn't finished fixing yet and the beautiful landscaping was invisible in the dark of an early spring evening.

I told the couple what the house had looked like when we bought it...a fixer upper with loads of potential. I told them what we had done to improve the property and I shared my vision of what we were planning on doing if my husband hadn't gotten a new job out of state.

Especially, I told them about the flowers. Some past owner must have loved flowers. There is a huge Bradford Pear tree in our front yard that blooms for two weeks every spring and is just gorgeous. There is a weeping cherry and  other blooming trees as well as tulips and lilies and a good sized lilac that was here before. We have added two baby apple trees, a raised bed garden, raspberry bushes (alas, only one survived the winter), tons of hostas, more lilies and tulips and daffodils.

They saw the potential in their minds eye and we agreed at a price of what it is worth now. A price between what it had been and what it will be. Both parties could see the beauty of its potential.

I mowed the lawn for the first time this year and was wondering what that thick, weird, lime-green grass could be that was growing along my back fence. My husband always mowed it down with the rest of the grass, but this time, it caught my eye and I paused before I pushed the mower into the midst. Then I realized what it might be. I rushed around the corner of the house and found similar lime-green stuff growing in a circular bed of mulch. I knew what that was, Lilies. I had lilies along my back fence and I never knew! So I steered the mower around them and let the straggly stuff be. I'll be moving before I can see them bloom. But somebody will enjoy their beauty.

I have a friend who's daughter is almost thirteen and struggling with the social scene of middle school. It's not fun to be a sixth grade girl. I remember. At that point, if you're not popular, you are pretty sure you never will be. You look in the mirror and see that you are no longer that adorable kindergartener in pigtails. But you are not a curvy, cute seventeen year old either. You are somewhere in between and you feel very much like a caterpillar, ready to go into its cocoon for maybe a million years. Because people might label you imaginative, a day-dreamer, sweet or even quirky. And in sixth grade, there doesn't seem to be a happy niche for sweet and quirky day-dreamers. Sigh! Oh, the pain of middle school. It's brutal. And it's very, very real.

Yesterday, I met with one of my son's teachers; his one-on-one reading recovery teacher. I watched a lesson between my son and his teacher and could see so clearly how much he has grown in ability in the last six months. He can read! Not fast and sometimes with a lot of mistakes. But he catches himself most of the time and corrects himself. After he went off, smiling, to his regular class, the teacher and I had a heart-to-heart.

The teacher suggested that we get my son tested for Learning Disabilities.

Part of me felt like I had been shoved. But part of me felt relief.

My bright, happy, energetic, sweet-but-devilish boy! I had been watching his confidence melt this past year as he realized that he was "stupid". Everybody else in his class could do the assignments without the teacher giving a personal explanation of the instructions. Most of the other kids were able read smooth and fast.

In kindergarten, when I had been concerned about my son's lagging behind in learning how to connect the letters to make words, I had been assured that kids, and boys especially, often had a moment in time when reading would 'CLICK'. I had been hoping with the special in-school tutoring, that 'click'  would come.
And in a way, it had. He was reading.

But now, his teacher was sensing what I had been wondering for a while. There was a reason why this awesome, smart kid wasn't keeping up. Maybe it's a visual processing problem, perhaps an attention problem, perhaps something I've never heard of. Or perhaps he has a combination of issues that is hindering his progression.

I don't know.

But the earliest educators like to test for these problems is the end of first grade or beginning in second. Perfect timing.

So now, I have hope for my struggling child. He is more than the kid who can't read. He is more than the kid bringing home low grades. He is awesome! And I am girding up to become his warrior mother.

Because whether its a not-quite perfect house, long, straggling lime-green 'grass' I don't mow because I know it will turn into gorgeous flowers along my back fence in two months, a girl who can't see beauty while she's in her little chrysalis, or a mother who knows her son is not dumb, there is beauty in potential.

Lots of beauty just waiting for a little hope and a lot of work.

And that, my friend, is another name for FAITH.

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