Tuesday, March 17, 2015

When Scrunched Up Faces Reveal Secret Fears

She is laughing so hard that the sound ricochets up the steps.

(Not my daughter.)   Photo Credit:Alpha Chen, Creative Commons, cc license
"Oh no," she giggles in surprise and glee, "oh no." And the squealed laughter and mirth bubble up from deep within her. My daughter's laughter is known for being unrestrainable, uncontainable, and loud. Her delight is infectious, and her laughs and guffaws fill a room.

Silence now shuffles across the downstairs and glides noiselessly upstairs to where my husband and I are working. Computer keys tap staccato and night falls navy twilight through the deck door glass. Two firs loom tall, mirrored in glassy reflections of a yellow lit-kitchen behind me.

Taped to the wooden pantry door is a curling paper of names. Names of scientists, surgeons, musicians, artists, political leaders, and actors mingle near journalists and writers. Names like Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci, John Lennon, Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, Walt Disney, Agatha Christie, Orlando Bloom, Cher, Greg Louganis, and Henry Ford are just a few. Famous People with the Gift of Dyslexia, the article caption reads, and I've taped it there as an encouragement for my family. My teens scoff slightly at the term "gift" and wonder some days if that is true. Dyslexia runs in our family, and we have only just recently been learning more about it, and finding ways to use the strengths that come with it to offset the challenges that it brings as well. For those on a spectrum of dyslexia, it just means their brain took a different route for reading.

As a mom who is learning more about this --both the advantages and the challenges of dyslexia-- I ache at times with the hurt and uncertainty I see ripple across my loved one's faces. Even though research is showing that people with dyslexia problem-solve better, remember details of stories longer, and can think outside the box in wildly creative ways, it doesn't change the anxiety that can sometimes spring up.

These facts and my words bring no comfort some days, and I watch it crumple across their faces, or scrunch up behind deep brown eyes that pool in hurt or scowl in protective anger. Their fear that they are not enough, not capable, not smart hurts my heart and wakes me up some nights.

Because whether loved ones in our lives approach reading differently, or see the world uniquely in other ways, the results are the same. We get to stand beside them, and point them to the truths. "You are strong, capable, talented, determined, and intelligent -- yes, intelligent! You are so valuable and loved. And you are created by an Artist God who loves you and has great plans for you-- for your joy and for his glory."

Her laughter has died down now, and it must be a quieter part of the show. She is one of the many loved ones in my life that I am so lucky to know. Her love of life and her zeal rise up around her, and her hard work to teach herself drawing and Mandarin Chinese impress and amaze me.

The two tall firs have disappeared into velvety blackness now, and the sound of computer keys grows still. Hidden by the night, the trees continue growing silently.


Kara Shepherd said...

Jennifer, dyslexia runs in our family, too! Our similarities are scary-neat. :) I am the only non-dyslexic in our family of six, in fact. My husband and four children have it, but each to varying degrees. I would encourage you to check out the blog Abundant Living at marriannesunderland.com. Marianne is a homeschool mom and expert on dyslexia. I find a lot of encouragement there. We call it a learning difference and are thankful that we have the option to homeschool.

Eli said...

Oh, I miss Morgan! What a beautifully written description and very relatable to me! Some in my family, including me, have struggled a tiny bit with feeling as though I'm not good enough or capable. God is continually growing me though, even in the dark.

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Hey Jennifer! i was just texting with a mom the other night about her son who has dyslexia. I have forwarded this blog post to her. Her son is an amazing 8 year old and she and her husband are doing a wonderful job with him.

floyd sam said...

Amen, Jennifer. It runs in my family too, all of us to differing degrees and it is tough to see it as a gift… but our Father doesn't make mistakes!!!

Sometimes the ones that have it the hardest in the early years are the ones with the complete advantage in life later on.

Your take as a gift is spot on! Good job, mom!

Dolly@Soulstops said...

Your kids are blessed to have such an encouraging mom in you and someone who points them toward the gifts hidden within it...have your read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell? There is a chapter in there about people who've overcome and done amazing things in spite or because of their dyslexia...but it is still hard as a mom to see your kids struggling...((hugs))

Betty Draper said...

Dolly's right, your children are blessed to have a Mom who will work over time to help them. I too have a learning disability which shows up in following written instructions. I had a terrible time learning a new language and never became good at it. The grammatical part was so difficult. God helped me over come my pride many times and find another way to communicate and learn things that were hard. There is so much help out there to help kids with dyslexia and other disabilities. It took me years to first find out why I had such a hard time in learning some things the regular ways. Years of learning some thing the hard way helped me be very creative. I always stand amazed how God loves to use the frailness of us to show His glory.

Micah Yongo said...

You can add Richard Branson to that list. And I'm told Malcolm Gladwell's book (David & Goliath, was the title if I remember correctly) has a lot more examples, along with a statistical analysis that reveals dyslexia to be common among entrepreneurs and other kinds of founder. Apparently it's a competitive advantage when it comes to creative leadership for the very reasons you mention.

But anyway, the question I want to ask is when are you going to write a book? Preferably a novel, I think. It's not good to have this kind of writing talent and not use it to its utmost ;-)

Jennifer Dougan said...


Wow, yes, those are several similarities. Thanks for the website and the new term. I like that term.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Hi! I told Morgan your comments and warmth and she smiled. Thank you. Have you been loving college this last year?

Thank you for your honesty here. I think we all wrestle with those feelings at times. I know I have too.

You got the darkness comment! Nice! That was how I saw it too.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


I'm so glad this post can help. Feel free to share anything anywhere.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


I seem to be hearing about more and more people who have dyslexia. That's encouraging. I think my loved ones very often feel that they are the only ones, so thanks for speaking out. I appreciate it.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


No, I haven't seen that book. Thanks. I'll look into it.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Thanks so much for sharing your heart and life here too. It's so encouraging to know of others who have wrestled with that too. I'll share this with my kids on a hard day in the future.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


No, I haven't heard of Richard Branson either, but I'll look him up. Thank you. That will be an encouraging book for my kids to know about.

Thanks for the vote of confidence to write! :) I want to, and plan to work on it this summer after school.

Are you working on any projects currently too?

Jennifer Dougan