This week…”I’m just pooping” (and other good news)

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. I’m not sure if you know this, but Georgia (the 2-year-old) wakes up in the morning, removes her clothing and diaper, launches herself out of the crib and goes about her business. Now, her business used to involve running down the hallway screaming “Mama! You gotta get up!” but it’s evolved, apparently.
  2. Today I heard her bedroom close the door behind her all efficiently like she always does, even though she’s like a toy-spewing tornado on meth the rest of the day (Why does she always shut her door? Who the hell knows why? Because toddlers are insane.) and I waited for her to come into my room. I waited and waited and waited, hoping she’d come in at any moment so I didn’t have to remove myself from my bed. After enough minutes passed that I started getting worried, I asked Rocket (Mac was off RUNNING up hills or doing some other insane shit healthy people do) to get up and see what Georgia’s up to (YES, I made my 7-year-old get up to check on the toddler while I laid there and checked my phone…WHAT?). So he comes back a couple minutes later and says “She’s on the potty.”
  3. We keep the toddler potty in the living room. Because we keep it classy. So I figure she’s fine and get up like 20 minutes later (don’t hate, Rocket was with her), and when I get into the living room she’s still on the potty, which means she’s been on there for like 40 minutes at this point. We make eye contact and she like read my mind when she answered “I’m just pooping!” and I swear there was an eye roll. I mumbled that she clearly inherited the pooping-for-eternity trait from her father. I probably shouldn’t say those things on the internet. I mean seriously, is there nothing sacred?! (no, no there isn’t)
  4. Anyhoo, I’m slightly less traumatized about my exam in 3.5 weeks. It may be because I’ve been studying my British lit like a madwoman, or it’s because I’ve resigned myself and pretty much no longer care. I guess we’ll find out after the exam. Whee! Livin’ on the edge.
  5. Speaking of “exams,” Rocket made the announcement, and my heart nearly shattered: “I’m the only one in my class who can’t read.” And his head fell onto his arm, face down on the table, and it’s true, he’s 7 and a half and isn’t reading, and can’t seem to recall many words or letters, and it’s getting a little rough. We’re having him assessed on April 2, just because I want some insight into how to work with him, how to make these scribbles on the page come alive to him.
  6. It’s a strange feeling to have this kid who isn’t on the “curve” and you’re stuck between wanting him to be free and confident and young while also wanting him to read, because you value learning, but then again what is learning? And how do we know learning is synonymous with reading and school?  IS IT? What if it isn’t? What if there are other ways? And what if I get him a label of “dyslexic” or whatever and then he’s that forever and his curiosity fades into a vague understanding of his own deficiencies, and he gives up altogether.
  7. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It ain’t easy having one of “those” kids.
  8. Today I went to a luncheon for my lovely friend who looks better than most people even though she’s 8 months pregnant and I was sitting there cracking up with this group of women, listening to them tell it how it is, uncensored, witty, real. And I thought to myself this is what it’s like hanging out with real women, strong and smart women.
  9. It isn’t competitive. It isn’t one-upping. It isn’t female pissing matches shrouded in paper-thin decorum. It’s wild, it’s loud, it’s funny. It’s empowering and nourishing and fucking hysterical.
  10. And it revives the woman who’s wondering about her boy, the one who isn’t reading, who can’t remember words 5 minutes after he learns them, because he got up to go to the bathroom and now they’re all gone and he looks at you like “I’m trying.”

And I wonder if he knows the teachers say there’s something wrong, but more importantly I wonder if he knows there’s nothing wrong. Nothing at all. And there never will be.

I knew that today when I was hanging out with these women.

I mean it. I have incredible friends, and it appears the circle is just getting wider.

Here’s what we’ve been up to…

Ava making fun of "duck face" in her new dress

Ava making fun of “duck face” in her new dress


and I wouldn’t trust this guy in the park


or any of these people, to be honest.


well, at least she’ll stay warm


Daisy. Do you know her? She’s a good one.


it’s been 80 degrees all week…


mesh caps and child care – it’s how we roll


after he made the reading comment, I kept him home from school, just to hang out with me


and Laser, who just wants to cuddle


and then at lunch the mother’s heart exploded


my lovely nephew’s 7th birthday party…

Have a great week.

With love,


35 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized, weeks of mayhem | March 17, 2013
  • Shelley

    Thanks for this, I really needed to hear what you wrote at the end.” I wonder if he knows there’s nothing wrong. Nothing at all. And there never will be.” Amen!
    My oldest is one of “those” kids and I’m seriously evaluating whether or not school is going to be the place we continue to go. With her numerous neurological issues she doesn’t meet the standards the way the teachers see fit but I don’t give a damn you know? But still it affects her grades and confidence. She compares herself to everyone else when she should be proud of who she is.
    I can bet a million dollars that Rocket is so superbly gifted and bright in so many other ways and the reading thing will come in time. Every kid is different, the schools don’t get it, kids like ours that don’t fit the mold, that’s cause they make their own… These kiddos are
    shining stars. You’re an amazing mom. Hugs 🙂

  • Tina

    Can I just say, your children are beautiful. And you’re brilliant for not freaking out about rocket. My daughter has/had massive problems learning to read as well. She has been struggling since school started in autumn and I felt like she was never gonna get there. I already had an appointment for getting her checked for dyslexia (her dad and most of his family are dyslexic, so obviously that’s the first thing we had in mind). And then one day, in band-camp (sorry), we were looking at an atlas. Suddenly she reads “Kenia”. And I’m like “wow, well done you”, but thinking to myself that it was only a coincidence. Next she reads “Russia”, “Kanada”, “China”,…..and then “climate zones”. Climate zones? What? She doesn’t even know that word, where is that coming from? Seriously, a few days before that she was struggling with reading words like “Otto”! So, I really don’t know, but it was like a switch was flipped on or something. And since then she has been improving so much, it is incredible. Obviously she still isn’t fluent, but so, so much better. We’ll still get her tested because of the hereditary dyslexia that seems to be going on there, but I am not worrying anymore.
    Having said that, i think it would still be a good thing to get him checked out, but take your time finding someone competent, ask around for recommendations. Because there are so many concepts and training programs out there for dyslexia, it’s hard to find the right one. And you’re doing great not stressing out about it, seriously! He’ll get there – one day when you’re least expecting it, he’ll be reading words like “conundrum” or “inexplicably” and you’ll be like WTF?

  • Harley

    Dyslexics aren’t harmed by diagnosis, only helped. It is a genuine disability, and worrying about labelling of it is like worrying about a deaf or blind child being “labelled”; yes there will be a certain stigma but on the other hand, with official diagnosis comes official help. And help will be needed. It is very hard for dyslexics to cope with standard academic systems, but the earlier they receive support the better it will be for them, and the happier they will be, in the long run.

    My father is severely dyslexic and too proud to seek help for a lot of his adult life. He dropped out of high school, having struggled for ages, and then spent fourteen years not passing college because he refused to admit he couldn’t complete the language components. Cue marrying my mother (who works in Special Education no less); she forced him to get help which he eventually did. He’s now a professor with a PhD and while he does struggle with some aspects of his dyslexia he is coping much better.

    In comparison my partner, who is dyslexic as well as dysgraphic (can’t read OR write, this one! :P) was diagnosed early, given help and support as needed, and has fared much better and much more happily in life with a lot less anguish and unnecessary shame.

  • Cassandra

    You are an amazing mother. Never forget that. I am a recent motherless mother and I admire your strength. I too have a tatooed lover…but of a different race than mine and I’m sure people are apprehensive if our kindness. Stay true dear imaginary friend 🙂

  • melissa

    Aww, poor kiddo. The professionals will say this requires intervention, especially since No Child Left Behind. But reading is not the only gateway to learning, and young children are better suited to experiential learning than academics, anyway. And he is young. Asking a 7 year old child to sit and decipher squiggles instead of soaking up knowledge about the world by being and doing really is asking a lot.

    But anyway. I think if you value and nurture the areas where he does excel (whether the school values them or not), the areas where he struggles won’t turn into psychological scars or anything. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, everyone has to work harder than “everyone else” at something.

    Sorry for the unsolicited advice. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, personally and professionally (once upon a time).

  • lisaeggs

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. It’s been a week. I didn’t get the chance to hang with any of those real type mamas (they do exist, right? You didn’t make that part up?), but this is the next best thing. I want to tell you not to worry about Rocket but that is stupid of course. I guess I can just say that Rocket seems like a really cool kid. You rock for keeping him home that day. Bravo. Having a mom that will keep you home from school when you feel low is better than being able to read at age 7 any day of the week.

  • Dee

    Toddler eyerolls make my day. As for Rocket, I hope his assessment leads to some answers for you both.

  • sarah

    This is one of the reasons i love reading your blog so much.. Amidst all the sarcasm and wit is an unbelievably and undeniably great mother, with such a refreshing view on the world. Nothing is wrong. Everybody is different. And who are we (or the schools) to say reading = learning? I honestly had never thought of it that way, but feel a bit enlightened having read that. Keep it up, mama- you are raising some amazing kids. 🙂

  • Shelby

    You and your family are perfect jut the way y’all are. School is hard, Avery is 4 and boy has she already had her fair share of not fitting in with the curve,,, maybe rocket needs an eye exam, or maybe there is an explanation as easy as dyslexia, both are things my husband deals with. He’s a voracious reader, in really thick glasses. Sexy. Rocket will be fine.
    I’m happy that you are the strong powerful mama you are, the world needs more of your crazy kind. Sitting at that table with the rest of you yesterday did me a world of good as well, sometimes when we are “weak”, nah, honest… all it takes is the support of other amazing women to pick us up! Thank you for being one of those, keep on doing what you’re doing. You rock.

  • Stephanie

    I miss those friends. Someday…

  • Angela

    Our daughter made her first leap from “words are confusing” to reading because we wouldn’t tell her what was on the fortune cookie papers. She was so determined to know what fortune we got that she painstakingly read each word out. Then looked up at us to hear it all said as a sentence. Once she got through an entire table of them and it took about 20 minutes. We didn’t care that we were done eating, we just sat and let her work her way through them while the drinks made little puddles of condensation on the table. It was that week that she became a “reader”.

  • Renee'

    Rocket will be ok. We struggled with our grandson, Ayden, aslo. He has ADHD and didn’t have the time or the patience to put the effort into reading or anything else for that matter. After trying several natural alternatives that didn’t quite do the job, he is on meds that have totally turned this kid around. He is reading at or above his grade level and he shines in the rest of his classes also. It has also helped him concentrate on his sports which is despartely wanted to be part of. Hang in there – you are doing the right thing getting him assessed. You will get answers. Then take take the path that works for Rocket and you.

  • Tokarz

    I have 3 kids, 2 kids in college who didn’t read till they were 10,and 1 still at home. She’s 10 now and just took off reading…now I can’t stop her. It is freaky when you think your kid is the only kid who can’t read yet…I’ve been through it three times! I think school imposes a schedule on kids and says they’re not normal if they don’t follow. Not sure how to negotiate it through the school system though what with grades defining everything. We homeschooled, so I got to suffer my insecurities privately with nobody telling me my kid was weird…just my own voices. But I’d say about half the homeschooled kids I know didn’t start reading till much later than “school” said they should. Your boy is real lucky you know he is normal!
    I love your blog by the way. Thanks for writing it!

  • jackie

    had to quote your part about the women on my facebook after reading…you’re so lucky. i live in a town that people come then leave after making their fortunes (calgary) and i miss a good group of women that make my face hurt from laughing/smiling too much in one hour.

  • Kate

    Aw, poor Rocket. I don’t think being “labeled” or identified with a learning issue is nearly as big of a deal today as it was when we were kids. I taught two classes at a small liberal arts college a few years ago (and maybe you’ve seen this phenomenon as well), but fully half the class came up with “learning assessment” letters that allowed them to take as much time as they needed for the tests. It clearly wasn’t destroying their curiosity or limiting them in anyway. Heck, it was kind of a badge of pride around there. You’ll hear stories of trouble turned success over and over. And I think that the educational establishment has really started to think along the same lines as you, and realize that there are many non-traditional ways to learn. I taught science classes, and I was guided to teach to all three “types” of learners: oral, visual and kinesthetic. Hopefully, you can find teachers and schools that have moved beyond just “flash card” learning.

  • Heather

    BAWLING again…I seriously have No idea how you do this to me every time. You just have this ability to reach people on an amazing level of equality and understanding. Your son is PERFECT! You already know that, the hard part is that as mom’s we want everyone to see that. The teachers and the people that decide we need to “label” whatever it is that they say is not fitting into their pre-made categories. He is going to use his talents and become something incredible. That is how it works. The thing is….not everyone’s talents fit into the little box designed by…(who the hell knows who designed it…and decided that if your not between the lines of this and that then your not “normal.”) If everyone fit in that box…it sure would be a dull world wouldn’t it? and BTW…I wanted you to know that you have completely INSPIRED me. The last time I was on here, you told me to start my damn blog already and forget the trolls! Well…I did! and I THANK YOU! It was just what I needed to hear! <3 <3 I <3 you!!

  • Annette MacKay

    Hang in there Mama and tell everyone else to shut up and stay away from Rocket. He’ll be fine. I had one just like Rocket. Brilliant in so many ways so early, just not reading. Please read the article I wrote years ago. It’s at the URL above.

    My son is now 20. He’s a handsome math and computer nerd. 2nd degree black belt in Goju ryu karate – teaches little ones. And OMG he reads like there is no tomorrow. Loves, loves, loves a good book. Does a ton of online research in all his various areas of interest.

    If you read, he’ll read. Keep the naysayers at bay. And personally? I think a diagnosis helps no one. Favourite two phrases to hang on to?

    “There is no such thing as a learning disability, only a teaching disability.”


    “The longer I put it off, the faster they learn.” This one is gold.

  • Kat

    I have a kiddo who is one of Those Kids. She has dysgraphia, dislexia, ADHD and sensory processing disorder (SPD) (and some other stuff), all of which combined to make her life at school pretty hard (and our life at home, too, to be honest).

    Having her evaluated, and then following through with occupational therapy, and some other stuff, has made things so much better for her. We call it “hacking her brain” because we’ve all learned the work-arounds to help her Get Stuff that she doesn’t get otherwise.

    We did choose to use meds to help her with the ADHD and anxiety, but I can’t even begin to tell you the difference occupational therapy has made for her.

    Point being, if you choose to have him evaluated, even understanding how he is processing, understanding, taking in information is so hugely helpful in helping him to be able to do the things he wants to do (like read).

  • Sara

    You are an amazing mother.

  • Kate

    Hey, schools suck. Rocket is FINE! Dyslexia, by the way, is the challenge of geniuses (albert einstein, steven jobs, etc). About 25% of the population works with the reading difference. My hubster and I both are dyslexic; I addressed it in first grade with my son, got a medical on him in sixth grade, the schools wanted to label him emotionally disturbed (yeah, of course, he was upset, he was being bullied into reading when he wasn’t ready and being dissed because he was behind the typical learner; and the school district does NOT know how to teach to dyslexics), finally in the spring of his ELEVENTH grade year they gave him some accomodations. In his super-senior year I finally had him leave the school district and get his GED (three out of five of his GED test scores were honors scores!)

    Boys usually read later than girls anyway. Don’t let the school bully you into anything you know ain’t right (like ADHD medicine). hugz!

  • Amanda

    You are awesome and an inspiration to us all. Rocket will be fine, you know that but get him assessed just to figure out how is brain is wired and then you learn how to work around it. If this connection doesn’t work, you try something else. You are a creative woman, your kids are amazing and together you’ll get through anything. Hugs!

  • Caryl

    Keep us posted on your son. Sounds like a good kid, and he’s got a great mom =0) I have some learning issues and I finally came into my own in college with no interventions. I know your son is having a hard time (based on what you wrote) and I hope the evaluation provides you with answers.

  • Kendra

    7 1/2 is *totally* on the curve – just not the stupid current public school system curve; just like weight charts, etc…
    (obviously) I don’t know you, but from everything you’ve written here: rocket is clearly better than fine.

    • Melissa

      Yeah, nobody even *tried* to teach me to read until I was 7, back in the 80s. I didn’t go to preschool, I didn’t have alphabet flashcards, my mother still does not know what pre-literacy skills are. Four years of AP English, and a degree in Linguistics later… Yeah, that “late start” in reading really held me back.

      The new standards are ridiculous, and a complete waste — sure, you can force most children to sit and drill literacy, but it’s not what they’re geared for. It will take longer, be frustrating, and waste the opportunity to learn what they are geared to learn, like another language. But no, let’s cram literacy into them when they’re young and teach foreign languages to them in high school after the language acquisition window is closed. Because this is ‘Merica and we already speak the best language on Earth, and we wouldn’t our future office drones to have any practical experience to draw on for solving the problems of the future. GRRRR. Our education system is so dysfunctional it’s fucking tragic.

  • Zooey

    In a lot of places in Europe kids don’t start school till 6. So, yeah, the ‘curve’ is always imaginary.

    [Warning: Unsolicited advice coming up, do skip if you have heard outside of enough!]

    Does Rocket like comic books? There are tons of awesome graphic novels which you can enjoy without reading the words (sometimes there aren’t any words). This is good for kids who are not reading words (and all kids and indeed people] because a. it helps stop them feeling inevitable dread whenever they open a book, b. reading visual narratives develops a huge percentage of literacy skills, and c. they are awesome fun. Some people are sniffy about not reading text books, but they are WRONG.

    If anyone reading wants good advice on comic books for kids, I totally recommend, which has loads and loads of age-appropriate recs.

  • BCMama

    In Finland, kids don’t even start school until they’re at least seven…these norms and curves and all these rules about how and when children learn are, at times, harmful to everyone involved. Your sweet little guy will learn to read, no doubt about!

    Congratulations on your recent successes…Your blog is among my very favorites.

  • Michael Ann

    Great post. Love the photos too! I too love that you are not freaking out about Rocket. However, I can appreciate the comment Harley left. She’s right. Don’t worry about a Dyslexic label. It WILL bring the help you need. The labels you would worry about are the ED labels (Emotionally Disturbed). Academic labels are different. You are on the right track with assessment and seeking help. Keep on being the awesome mom you are!

  • KOS

    I was one of “those” kids. Math was easy. Words, spelling, grammar, were very difficult. I hope that your little man learns at his own pace and finds teachers who are amazing. A lot has changed since the late 80s! I love your words at the end! Thanks for all your post I really look forward to reading them after my 19 month old goes to sleep.

  • TatianaB

    I discovered your blog not long ago and LOVE it!
    Anyway, I found this post on dyslexia a while back (I was looking for embroidery stuff…). It’s written by a dyslexic (and ex engineer who now has a needle work blog) and is very long but it’s well worth reading to the end. It opened my eyes.
    I don’t know if Rocket is going to be diagnose as one obviously, but if he is, it might be a useful read.

  • claire

    its been forever since I commented but I just wanted to quick say ‘thanks’ for writing and sharing your life with us. Also – you have such a sweet looking family – it warms my heart. good luck on your exam!

  • Rebs

    I just had my 7 1/2 year old assessed in the fall because of oh-so-many reasons (foremost because you just can’t get help w/o labels so I say bring on the labels!) and it revealed that she has issues with working memory. In her case, she mixes up/doesn’t retain sight words, doesn’t have great phonological awareness, can’t retain and reorganize information. Since getting that diagnosis, things are falling into place.

    It doesn’t explain her absolute terror of tattoos, nail polish or when I wrap my hair in a towel, but normal is overrated.

  • Claire Ashbourne

    Well you have had a serious amount of similar replies, but I’ll add: my second son is now 10 and he reads like a maniac, like at the level of any other ten year old. He loves it. He learned how about six months ago. All this time I have been quietly going out of my mind with worry but really tried not to show it. Every day for yrs he would forget what we did the previous day. We home school so I don’t think he has ever felt too bad about it. I never had him tested in any way for anything, I choose to wait and see (foolish? I don’t know, he ‘s just such a nice kid I couldn’t make him feel shit about something he couldn’t help). So he is fine and he finally can read and I can breathe out. I’d like to say chill and it will come but obviously I don’t know that. It’s what happened here tho, so thumbs up to all of that in-good-time stuff.

  • Nicole

    Love your site. Love Tyler Durden. More importantly, are you aware you are married to Freddy Mercury…lucky.

  • Andrea Martin

    Oh – God! I’m crying here! Too, too funny.
    And now I’m realizing this is the 3rd comment I’ve made on your blog in the past hour and you probably think I’m stalking you.
    But I’m not – my kid is finally asleep and it’s snowing and I just really need a break.
    Thank you.