The Year I Failed My Son


I failed my six-year-old.

A couple of weeks after school started I received a text from my son’s teacher. Looking more closely, I saw she had sent me the spelling test he had completed a few days earlier. During the practice test at home, he was getting 6-7 correct out of 10. When I saw his grade on the portal of a 55, I felt bad but knew that it was within the same range at home. Not great, but I knew with extra studying and tutoring, he could catch up quickly.

The spelling test I was looking at on my phone showed that my son had only gotten one word correct. I was devastated. I couldn’t comprehend. Immediately following the picture came a text, “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

I took a deep breath and replied yes.

After talking to the teacher and the principal, my husband and I made the difficult decision to retain our son back to kindergarten.

He had failed first grade in the first two weeks of school.

I felt like a failure. Because I was the one who had homeschooled him during the Covid 2020-2021 school year, this was a direct reflection on me, and I felt horrible. I cried and cried.

My husband and I talked to our son and discussed the pros and cons of moving classes. It was a difficult conversation. Even though he may be behind in academics, he is ahead in other areas. His brain doesn’t function the same as most six-year-olds.

That evening I found out a friend of mine lost her son. He was healthy. No reason to die. But he did die. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children. When I was praying for their family, a calmness came over me about my son.

This “big deal” for us isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It just wasn’t. Once I felt calm, I knew it was the right decision.

He went off to school the next day, and I got text updates from his old teacher and his new teacher.

I was a mess all day. I kept thinking about all the long-term decisions I had messed up for him by not ensuring he was 100% ready for 1st grade. Would he now graduate at 19 instead of 18? Will he always feel awkward being the oldest child at school? Will parents look at him differently when they know he’s so old?

As my husband said to me, “Why are you imagining all these scenarios that may not ever happen?”

I know he was trying to calm me down.

A few minutes later, a friend posted on Facebook one of her family members now has cancer. A child.

Within two days, two of my friends suffered. One was a tragic loss, and then another had a difficult decision to make regarding her child having cancer. Both of those moms would have given anything to be in my situation. To be holding back their son to kindergarten. My choice didn’t seem so difficult then.

Even though I felt like I failed my son, I didn’t.

While I browsed the aisles at Target waiting for a text from his new teacher letting me know how he was doing. I would see little things and instinctively turn to my buddy that had been with me every day of the last year. He wasn’t there. I wanted to talk to him about how sales tax works. Or go over counting by twos when we looked at new toys whether a $10 toy was more than a $15 toy. You see. Because even though he wasn’t ready for 1st grade {yet}, he learned a lot in the year he was home with me. Things he would have never learned in a classroom. I have to be proud of that.

I didn’t end up seeing him until dinner. The little boy I saw at dinner was completely different than the boy the night before. He was happy, confident, and eager to talk instead of playing on the devices at Olive Garden.

I looked up at my husband, and our eyes met. We both knew. Our tough decision was the correct one. And if anything, we get an extra year with our sweet boy in our house.

Did I really fail him? I don’t think so.


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