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11.14.2010

What’s Up With Doc?

I should tell you a bit more about Doc. We call him that because he loves Bugs Bunny and “What’s Up Doc?” was one of the first phrases we got him to say clearly.
When he came here at 4 ½ he was still in diapers full time, his speech was way underdeveloped so he could barely pronounce consonants and his social skills were lagging. That didn’t mean he was a slow thinker or not a nice boy. He just hadn’t been exposed to or taught anything. I sure didn’t want to be unloading his shorts day and night so within 3 weeks he was toilet trained for keeps. Next, we worked with the preschool’s speech therapist and started insisting at home that he enunciate the words he was trying to say instead of garble them all together one long string of vowels. We really pushed it through the spring and summer and now, 9 months later, his speech is reaching kindergarten level. We hope that the trend stays good so he’ll be ready for first grade next fall.

He’s really a great kid. He likes to be with other kids, he chatters endlessly and repeats questions until the end of time. On the downside, he’s borderline compulsive obsessive and it take him a long time to get comfortable in new surroundings. No surprise there because he spent his first couple of years moving around more than Mayflower Inc.. Both his brothers have moved so many times in their lives I doubt they know all the places they’ve called home for a day.

I’ve read studies that correlate low income, less educated families directly to underdeveloped children and that the better the education the parents have the better chance at learning the kids have. That’s certainly been the case with these boys. Their parents struggled to make ends meet and have lagged on the income/education curve. But they both grew up in families with education and chose not to pursue higher learning, and limiting their options for higher earning. So what is it that makes them fall smack into the middle of this trend? Surely, they know helping their kids from an early age is beneficial, that working with the school only enhances their child’s chances, that involving themselves in every step towards early comprehension pays off in spades.

Yet Doc is a perfect example of a boy poised to fall through the cracks through no fault of his own. The schools in this country are collapsing under the weight of being too many things for our children. They can’t be police, social workers, parents, and teachers all rolled into one. First because we can’t afford it, and second because it doesn’t work.

I know today’s parents have a lot on their plates. Keeping up a decent standard of living calls for two incomes, no one is home full time anymore, and kids have a lot more distractions and demands on their time than it seemed even a generation ago. But parents of all educational backgrounds have overly busy work schedules and raise kids in this social environment.

I’d hate to think that a poor education/income = just don’t care.