Fear is a primal, powerful part of our psyche.
Particularly for children.
So what happens when fear torments a child that we feel is trivial and they feel is earth-shattering?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) flouronshirthrowaway when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for being mad at my wife for sending our kid to school in dirty clothes?”
OP began with the background.
“I (35 Male) am married to Sam (32 Female) and have two daughters.”
“My daughter Abby is in third grade and hates to read.”
“It was really hard to get her to learn to read and she is at a point where she can read but it’s not the best.”
“She can read fine to herself but she struggles a lot with reading out loud.”
“At school, her teacher does reading Thursdays where they read a book as a class. So they go around the class and the kids read a paragraph out loud.”
“Abby hates this, and it is a struggle to get her to school each Thursday.”
“The teacher is older and when I brought my concerns up to her she basically told me Abby can not read but she will not get the points and will fail reading class.”
“My wife agreed with this and told me Abby needs to read in class, this is how she will get better.”
“My wife is the type of person who thinks pushing through is the best course of action. Her dad was like that and would always say, suck it up.”
“So today Abby didn’t want to go to school, I saw the beginning of the meltdown before I went to school.”
Everything was okay, until…
“I picked the kids up today from school and Abby was in dirty clothes. Her clothes were covered in dirt/mud.”
“I asked her what happened and Abby said, Mom, sent me on the bus like this.”
“I was livid.”
“I got home and told Abby to change and waited until my wife got home.”
“When she got home I asked why Abby went to school in dirty clothes.”
“She said right as the bus was going to get here Abby decided to roll around in the dirt to try to get out of school. She then put her on the bus even with Abby looking like a mess.”
“We got in an argument with me saying you could have got her changed and then drove her to school, My wife said she is done and wasn’t going to be late to work.”
“That my daughter needs to live with the consequences of her actions.”
“The argument got more heated and she left to stay with her sister for the night.”
“Her final words were have fun getting the kids ready for school tomorrow and being late to work.”
“I talked to my mom and she called me a dumb*ss.”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: YTA
Some commenters focused on helping Abby get better.
“Practice reading sentences out loud at home.”
“If you have a dog or cat, ask her to read to the pet”
“Low risk practice might help build some confidence.”
“I hope she can get more comfortable reading aloud. It can be stressful.” ~ BiTimbersFan
“Another thing that could help is practicing with sight words—words that we don’t sound out easily so we eventually just learn to recognize them.”
“These may not be a source of any anxiety, but I know you can find flashcards of them.”
“Some casual practice to help master these tricky but common words can maybe build some confidence too.”
“But it could just as easily be a matter of nerves having an audience rather than struggles with the task itself.”
“I hope her confidence blossoms and the support you and her teacher give her help her feel more comfortable each time.” ~ BiTimbersFan
Others were more direct in their responses.
“If you care deeply about this issue, then you could have stayed to manage the meltdown you saw starting.”
“You too prioritized being on time over accommodating Abby’s upset about reading days.” ~ thirdtryisthecharm
“A lot of the other YTA focus too much on harsh punishment/forcing a kid to do something and ‘that’s the real world.'”
“I don’t agree with that, and MOST IMPORTANTLY op you are criticizing your wife for doing exactly what you did– prioritizing going to work when a meltdown was going on!”
“You offloaded the meltdown to your wife then when she did the same thing you did (two versions of I dont have time for this sh*t today) you got pissed at her.”
“You’re supposed to be a TEAM.”
“If you don’t like the tough love parenting, you two need a plan together than involves getting to the root of your kid’s social anxiety/stage fright/aversion to reading.”
“It very well could be her teacher, who sounds like an a**hole” ~ spacedinosaur1313131
“Not just offloading THIS meltdown to his wife – OP knows it’s a problem each Thursday yet his wife is probably the one to deal with it every single week!”
“(On top of dealing with the normal morning routine of getting kids ready for school, oh, and the other daughter!)”
“This day might have been the straw that broke the camels back for your wife – OP, without a doubt YTA!” ~ LMB83
Of course, there was commiseration through personal stories.
“This is exactly how I feel.”
“My daughter is very quick to give up or get to a certain point then refuse to progress any further since it might be hard.”
“An example of this is when she was in skating class, she got to a point that she didn’t fall at all using the trainer but refused to try skating without the trainer.”
“She could do it, she really didn’t need the trainer, but she just didn’t want to try because it was harder.”
“The teacher and I discussed it for two lessons with both of us encouraging her to try without the trainer but at the end of the day, we had to be the ones to take it away.”
“She never would have chosen to do it on her own.”
“By the end of the second lesson without the trainer she was skating so much better because she had more confidence.”
“She realized she could do it and it wasn’t as hard as she thought. Sometimes kids just need a push to progress.” ~ sandstorm320
“I was having a conversation about this recently;”
“My mom’s friend’s daughter has anxiety (like me) so her parents let her do 100% remote schooling, even after schools re-opened.”
“But now she apparently never leaves the house – won’t go see her old friends, won’t meet up with virtual school friends, because she’s afraid of COVID.”
“My mom asked if they (meaning my parents) would have let me do the same and I reminded her of all the times she made me do activities/camps/etc despite me crying the whole way there on the first day.”
“Because they knew it was important that I was pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, while always having a safe space at home to come home too.”
“I’m still not a particularly outgoing person but I’m a lot more confident than if my parents had just never made me do things I didn’t want to because of my anxiety disorder.” ~ theagonyaunt
Responses even tried taking a larger view of the problem.
“To me there is a difference between an adult not wanting to do something uncomfortable, and a child doing so.”
“Children need to learn that sometimes you HAVE to do things you don’t like (such as read aloud, there do need to be boundaries and nuances taught) to be successful adults.”
“Adults, presumably, are able to determine ‘okay, if I decide I am not doing this presentation for work, I am okay with not getting the promotion.'”
“Or ‘I don’t want to do this presentation, but I really want/need that promotion.”‘
“Also, depending on the child, this won’t destroy her love of reading and books.”
“I absolutely loathe reading aloud.”
“I hate public speaking.”
“I failed my college public speaking class.”
“I still love reading.”
“However, I also wanted to go to school specifically to learn to read better.”
“I was always asking my parents to read things to me (books, newpapers, cereal boxes…) until one day they said no and told me to learn to read, so I did.”
“(It wasn’t quite that abrupt, but they got tired of reading everything). To this day I vastly prefer reading to watching TV/movies.”
“So Abby can still have a love of reading, but may always hate reading aloud.”
“However, if OP and teacher keep conflating reading with reading aloud?”
“That may do it.”
“My school, though small and rural, didn’t have an issue with that.”
“They KNEW I could read, I just hated to read aloud.”
“(And hated handwriting. Computers are a godsend to me because I don’t have to write anything out by hand and hope I can read it later :P)”
OP did return with some final thoughts.
“We have had Abby tested, she doesn’t have anything.”
“She has always been the type of kid to run away from challenges.”
“We still read with her twice a week with popcorn reading. In reading she is a B- student. All other classes she is thriving.”
Fear is a powerful enemy, and without the proper tools it can be devastating at any age.
Be patient with the people in your life struggling with this adversary whether they are in grade school, grad school, or out of school.
Always encourage them, however, to keep fighting.