Pokemon: per-sev-er-ance or per-se-ver-ance?

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This is a photo of the maiden’s Pokemon card collection – minus all the energy, trainers, stadiums, and supporters ….

Pokemon binders

Four binders full. How many? We stopped counting when she was at about 2,000. That was a couple years ago.

These cards have caused a lot of stress in the household – mostly between the crone and the maiden, the mother and the crone and to a lesser extent the mother and her maiden.

The crone does not spend money on hobbies. She does not have hobbies. And that is okay. But she has a hard time understanding how the maiden can want to spend all her allowance on these cards and any extra money she receives for her birthday, Christmas or other special occasions. She even limits what she gives the maiden so that she cannot buy Pokemon cards – so will get her a gift card for a store where they do not sell these cards. She used to indulge her at the beginning of the maiden’s hobby – which started five years ago – but in the last couple of years has all but stopped supporting the maiden’s desire to acquire more.

The crone argues with the mother and maiden about the mess … Because you see, all these cards, neatly stored in binders, was just accomplished this week – while the maiden has been off school. Usually the cards are strewn about the house, the maiden’s bedroom and even sometimes the mother’s bedroom – many a night the maiden has sat on the floor in her mother’s room sorting her collection.

If you are not familiar with Pokemon then let me tell you they can be sorted in many, many ways – by set, by symbol, by type, by HP, by evolution, by shiny/non-shiny, by common/ uncommon/ rare/ promo, alphabetically… And the maiden has sorted them by each of these and probably more … The cards go in the protectors in the binders, and they come out of the binders and the protectors … they go in the protectors and they come out of the protectors …. We have spent many an evening or weekend helping the maiden to organize. But a few months ago the last time I helped I said we no more. If they came out once more she would be putting them all back in by herself. So they stayed out. All over her room. Until the crone had enough and boxed them all up and put them in the basement and told the mother that she needed to clear a space for the maiden to indulge her passion without it interfering and messing up the house. I will not go into the issues at this point about the interference of the crone – that is for another day.

So the question becomes – is the maiden’s Pokemon obsession perseverance or perseverance? Same word. Different pronunciation. Different perceptions. Per-se-ver-ance is something to be admired. It is steady persistence in a course of action Whereas per-sev-er-ance is seen as the continuation of an activity long after it is appropriate or getting stuck.

What does it matter where the emphasis is placed? One might answer it matters because the outcome of one is the achievement of a goal and the other is just repetitive actions with no concrete outcome. But who are we to judge outcome. Unless I am in my daughter’s brain I have no idea what her goal is to take out the cards, to put them back in, to take out, re-sort and put back in. Perhaps the repetitive actions soothe her. Perhaps they keep her occupied. She likes to look at the pictures. She is strengthening her memory. I know she is learning some concrete skills – sorting, matching, numbering, alphabetizing, organizing, she also learns to pronounce letter combinations with the names – a skill she needs to develop for reading.

What the crone sees as a waste of time, the mother sees as a hobby that has kept the maiden’s interest for five years. Nothing else has held her captive for so long. And she could be obsessed by worse things. Has been.

School has missed a very large opportunity to help my daughter learn math, pronunciation and valuable skills. If her teachers had capitalized on her interest in Pokemon it could have been used to learn a variety of different skills. Instead of teaching her math skills in an area she doesn’t understand teach her to play Pokemon. Use the films and books for English study instead of books and films she is not interested in, use them to teach her how to search the internet for information. Engage her in learning through something she likes and enjoys.

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A study by Anne Streissguth in 1996 revealed 60% of adults with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome had a disrupted school experience. So far, my daughter changed schools from grade 5 to 6 because of bullying, was taught at home for the last 4 months of grade 7 because of bullying, skipped grade 8 to prevent further social isolation, started high school with half days in Lifeskills Learning program and other half academic, yet dropped one of her classes in the first semester as academic was too difficult to manage. She has had no friends since grade four – when her invisible disability showed itself in social and developmental differences.

In grade 10 she is in specialized classes but only 3 of 4 periods (we kept a spare), has been moved down to a certificate from diploma and as of next week will be tutored at home for the rest of the school year because she has shut down and refuses to go to school.

Why should she? For a kid that thrives on routine and structure there is none in high school. For a kid that needs an external brain she is left alone to fend for herself during breaks and lunches. For a kid that can’t learn the regular mainstream way there have been no creative and personalized approaches. There is no one at school to make going to school attractive. She is one of those 60%. She may have been the 40% if the system would have responded to her needs five years ago.

Now before you may think she doesn’t have an IEP, she does. Before you think she doesn’t get the attention of the resource department she does. But she is burdened with an invisible disability, a charming but quirky personality, and a rigid school system. School is about IQ. She has low to average IQ so is not eligible for special support services – despite the brain damage that interferes with her ability to learn and retain info.

I read a saying the other day that makes so much sense for parents with children who have special needs.I won’t change the way my child views the world, instead I will change the way the world views my child.

I have finally changed the way the school system is seeing my child. We have a tutor – no more morning struggles and school anxiety. She will have one on one help for two subjects. And meetings will be held to see how we can finish the credits since it is unlikely she will return to school in the fall. She may – she may surprise us – but either way a plan will be in place to put into immediate action should she not want to return or changes her mind if she tries again and it doesn’t work. It only took me five years to get the school to listen and see.

So does it really matter if it is per-sev-er-ance or per-se-ver-ance? Either way, there is an end result that matters for the person involved in the action. For me, it was getting the school to understand my daughter’s needs and create a plan that responded to her needs. For my daughter only she knows. It really shouldn’t matter to anyone else.

Now, would anyone like some Pokemon cards? The maiden has decided she wants to sell them!


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