I rarely speak of it here, but my third child, Oliver, has some significant learning disabilities and despite astounding perceptive abilities and an intelligence that can be jaw-dropping, he struggles mightily in school. He's in sixth grade this year, and I wouldn't be exaggerating if I told you that he despises school. Despite going to an excellent progressive charter school with a wonderful resource team, the acts of reading, writing and doing math are agony to him, and the last couple of months have been miserable. I'm not exaggerating, either, when I say that he is having literal existential nausea. He is able to articulate all of this to me and does so, all the time, every single day which has, to say the least, taxed my capabilities as a mother and -- honestly -- a human being. Sometimes it's like living with a glummer version of Jean-Paul Sartre, which is hard to imagine. That being said, Oliver's talent to make me laugh also seems to grow each year, and I am often helpless with it. This morning, he and I spent a few hours at a distant baseball park in Encino, watching Henry play. I talked for quite some time to another parent of a kid on Henry's team who told me about his older son, now a freshman in college, who struggled with learning disabilities as a kid and who reminded me, in the describing, of Oliver. I asked this man to tell Oliver about his son, which he did while Oliver listened.
Oliver: Yeah, I hate school. I wish I could just have a job. Nice Man: Well, school is your job! Without missing a beat, in the blink of an eye Oliver: Then, I wish I could get fired from my job. I wouldn't care and could probably get a better one. As my father would say, He's a real piece of work.