Friday, January 23, 2009

The doors are open....

to a new and wonderful world!
My daughter has a learning disability as well as dyslexia. When I first learned this, I was devastated. Not only as a mother and an author, but as child who escaped into books that made me dream, made me become something I wasn't, or took me to places I could never dream of going to. I grieved for her, and how she would not be able to take joy in a past time that I treasure~at least not without frustration and much help and support.

Everything about reading is hard for her. But she's coping, and learning, and improving. She's such a smart little thing, and wonderfully creative. Speaking to her, you would never know she 'lacked' in any area. But beneath the smiling facade is a girl who would desperately would love to read chapter books.

Her reading ability is not there, unfortunately. But the mind is willing~no~craving that experience. Her friends are all busy reading things that she cannot manage. We've had tears. We've had the "I'm so stupid" conversation, and we've had a breakthrough in technology that allows people with disabilities to delve into books, that at one time, were only for the literate.

I discovered audio books this Christmas for my daughter when she begged me to read Twilight to her. We had seen the movie already, and she knew I was a fan of the series. She loves Edward. Wants to be Bella when she goes to high school. Even though I wanted to encourage her, I didn't want to read Twilight to her, because, well, a book like that is a personal experience. So, I found it on audio and my daughter came to me last night and flopped down on the couch. "Mom, I finished Twilight" she says, and she's so proud,I can see it. "It was so good. Do you think you could find the next one for me?"

This is the moment I've been living for, the time when my daughter would be a voracious reader, a time when she would stop everything and bury her nose in a book.
Fifteen years ago she would have suffered, no only by being labeled in school, but because the technology of the age had not been discovered.

I believe the novel is here to stay. I believe that holding a book in your hands and stroking the cover and feeling the pages beneath your fingertips is part of the reading experience. But to those who cannot read, for whatever reason, they are no longer denied the magical experience that 'paper readers' have long took for granted.

Last night, we went to a little coffee shop uptown. It's a place that's hip to hang out and sip a Chai latte. They have a couple of fireplaces and some comfy club chairs. I usually bring a book. My daughter brought her audio book, and sat across from me, sipping hot chocolate. I saw her smile as she looked out the window, then she pressed the paused button.
"I'm at my favorite part, when Bella first meets Edward."
And I realized then, that my daughter was 'reading' her book-- yet again! And loving it as much as I did, the first time I held Twilight in my hands.

There are some things in this world that I wish weren't invented, but there are some things that I'd never wish away again.

What's your love/hate technology?


Kristi Cook said...

Awwwww, that made me cry! I'm so happy for her!

I had brain surgery a decade ago, and it took me a couple months before I could actually read a book again (mostly because I couldn't see well enough--I had Bell's Palsy as a result of the surgery, and one eye wasn't functioning correctly). I don't know what I would have done during that recovery period if not for audio books.

As to love/hates, sometimes I think we have *too* much "keeping in contact" technology these days. With cell phones, wireless internet, PDAs, etc., you can never actually 'get away.' My husband never truly relaxes on vacation, because he spends the entire time talking to the office, to clients. I've got stories from all over the world--sitting in the car on the side of the road for an hour in Ireland, because he 'had a good signal' and needed to make some calls; almost missing a ferry from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island (I was on the ferry, so was the car--he wasn't, he was on his cell phone in the ferry building).

But I guess it's really a love/hate thing, because I loved that, while in Morocco, I could read a text message from my agent, telling me that an editor loved my proposal and wanted to see more.

But I should also note that I love the advances in medical technology. That brain surgery I mentioned? As awful as it was for me, it was mostly routine for my surgeons. They removed the tumor, and I'm fine. But my paternal grandmother wasn't so lucky in the 1960s--she had what we assume might have been a similar type of brain tumor, and died as a result of the surgery (this was long before I was born). I assume that, with today's technology, she would still be alive. Brain surgery just wasn't the same in 1965 as it was in 1996.

I also had a friend who, when pregnant with her first child, had a transverse baby--lying sideways. They tried to manually turn the baby, but were unsuccessful, so she had to have a c-section. A hundred years ago, she probably would have died giving birth.

Genella deGrey said...

I can relate, Charlotte.

It wasn't until high school that they diagnosed me with dyslexia/ learning disabilities. I don't think they knew what it was before then.

All my life teachers told my mother I was bright but lazy. I remember trying to learn to read in the first grade. It was awful.

Letters (and numbers for that matter) were transposed (is that the right word?) when I did my homework (if I did my homework) - even now I have to remember which way a z goes.

Yes, it was and still is a struggle. But types like us have to look at the world differently - but take heart! Unique talents will emerge from the ashes as a result.

Like storytelling. :)

Perhaps my difficulty with learning is why I was glued to the TV as much as possible. We didn't have audio books back then.


Anonymous said...

Your post made me cry, although I myself do not suffer from dyslexia or learning disabilities, mine is panic disorder and when your at an age where the world is yours for the taking in High School, I was trying to make it through the day trying not to be scared of another attack.
I've always loved books, but after I went home school, books saved my life when I went through a depression. I read amd read to get away from it all, books pretty much kept my feet on the ground, and to this day, I adore any book.
At this time, I met many people on the net who shared my love for art and books and even met my best friend who help me through some really hard times. Technology is a double egde sword.
On one had it can help heal, clean up the mess we made of the earth by going green. But on the other hand we abuse technology with our trash to many other things, but I feel if we don't take things for granted we can get by with nature and technology hand and hand.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Everyone has had such thoughtful comments today, and so honest, too!
I like it when that happens, you learn something intimate about each other and it draws you in.

I didn't mean to make everyone cry! Is it the moon? lol!
Now, technology for me is a double edged sword as Rane has said. I like knowing I can pick up a cell phone in an emergency. I dislike knowing that I can basically be reached at all times. I really dislike that thought, perhaps because I'm a bit of a solitary person, I guess. Now, the internet...don't even get me started. I have a love/hate addiction thing going on with it!

Fedora said...

Thank you for such a lovely post today! Technology can be so wonderful, when it extends our worlds and allows us to heal and connect in ways that previously weren't possible. I do dislike the intrusiveness of it sometimes, but that's really something we each need to choose to set boundaries for--the technology available just makes access so much easier.

Hooray for your daughter, Charlotte--I love that you're able to share your love of books together now!--and yay for you, Kristina!

Anonymous said...

Charlotte, my youngest daughter is dyslexic, they told us she would never graduate high school. she walked with a 3.2 gpa and I cried like a baby. she is the brightest ray of sunshine in my life and she kicks ass at whatever she does. I found early on that a label of any kind was only a disservice. I never allowed it, and fought the schools a good many times when they wanted to put her in classes I knew would cause great damage to her self-esteem. and I believe because of it she has thrived. i am so proud of her.

and i'm with you on the love hate thing with the internet. grrrr...

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Karin and Genella, your comments made me feel so much better. I know there is much she'll able be to do, and I know its something she can overcome, it's just this 'interim' period where everything is difficult and frustrating for her that drives me crazy. But, we have a great tutor, and an awesome support from the school, plus it helps that the little baggage is as headstrong as her mother. She won't give up!