The words “I can’t” are not really part of my vocabulary.
“I won’t,” “I’d rather not,” and occasionally “I shouldn’t” do make their appearances. But “I can’t” by and large stays away.
So, when I was told recently that there is no way I can help my son recover the year of reading instruction that appears to have eluded him over the course of the last academic year in eight short weeks of summer vacation, I took it as a personal challenge of sorts. I was told that I can’t, so now, even though we would have anyway (despite the fact we shouldn’t have to), we will.
We unplugged the television, put away all video games, instituted an in-home reading recovery program, and are availing ourselves of magnificent and highly effective software.
Plus we have a highly motivated student–one who after just a week is picking up books around the house, sounding out words, and attempting to spell the words he hears throughout the day. He reads to his father, is read to by his eight-year-old brother, and is looking forward to the day he can regale our cat with the tales of The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, the current book of his seven-year-old dreams.
While my inability to accept someone else’s telling me I can’t do something has gotten me into the occasional snafu, it also is exactly what has allowed me to get from where I once was to where I am now. And I see in my son the same sheer determination, the inability to allow the naysayers of the world to impede his forward movement, to stall his growth.
My son has had more than his share of challenges and has always gotten from Point A to Point B through stubbornness, perseverance, and fortitude–by always believing that he can and will.
And because he believes he can, he absolutely will.