Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I need to read two books for high school and I am very frustrated on how to do it. I really like stories but I hate reading. I have many symptoms of dyslexia and have always been an extremely slow reader. When I was in school I was put into gifted classes so I know I’m not just dumb. I also need new glasses, my eyesight has been getting worse and worse and it’s getting very difficult to see. I tried doing audiobooks but my misophonia is getting so bad that I can’t stand it. My misophonia is so horrible that I had to become homeschooled. I’m doing a curriculum, the cheapest that there is, for school. I’ve never been diagnosed with dyslexia since my mom cannot afford to have me diagnosed and she doesn’t see much point in doing it. She also can’t afford contact lenses for me. My skin is very sensitive and I can’t wear glasses or it will rub the skin behind my ears raw. I also have to wear bandages on my fingers whenever I write. I can take reading in very small chunks, like reading small things on signs or notes, but whenever I have to read an entire book, even one that I really want to read, I just want to die. I’m serious, and I’ve tried my best to not exaggerate in this, and have everything right to the point.
Kind querent: Let’s take a look at what’s going wrong here. First, you say you’re a slow reader. Now, do you mean that it takes you a long time to read the words, or that it takes you a long time to understand the material? For slow reading of words, assuming you do have dyslexic issues, I’d recommend giving yourself plenty of time and taking notes. No reason to rush it. If you’re struggling to understand the material, then work on picturing the story in your head as you read. I’d also recommend using a bookmark and running it under the line you’re reading. That way, you’re only seeing the current line of print. This sounds like useless advice, but trust me on this: it’ll help you. Pace yourself and don’t aim to read the whole book at once. Set a goal of one chapter and work hard on it.
So, you have glasses but you can’t wear them because they irritate your ears? You want contacts, which your parents can’t afford? Something isn’t right with that. Eyeglasses can hurt your ears, but most of them don’t. Is there something wrong with your frames? Are they too heavy, too sharp, too something? Because you need to be wearing your glasses. If the material of the eyeglasses is chafing your skin, maybe wrap some cotton around the earpieces. But maybe ask your parents if there’s a way your eyeglasses could be improved. If you’re not used to the sensation of wearing eyeglasses, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you still ought to wear them. Contacts are more dangerous than eyeglasses any day of the week. I’d opt for the glasses. Please experiment with them and try to find a way you can wear them. Good luck!
Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I am a senior in high school. Every year, everyone does things in big groups for spring break. I have never done these things. Now that I’m a senior, I had the idea to stay with my uncle who lives in Jupiter, Florida. He has a large house and told me he is totally okay with me staying there with a friend. I mentioned it to my parents and they have expressed that the 9 hour drive is too long and they’re worried about something happening to me on the drive. I’ve tried to reason and say that their fears shouldn’t hold me back from this experience but they are being so stubborn. This is my only life, my last high school spring break I will ever get. I know there will be more opportunities for me to go to Jupiter but this is spring break and my parents don’t understand that I deserve this. I’ll be eighteen. I don’t want to go just to do something, there are tons of amazing things I’ve always dreamed of doing there that I have planned (swimming with sharks, snorkeling, etc). I am so conscious that if I have the opportunity to do this that I should. Life is so short. I shouldn’t be held back by my parents fears, but I won’t go without their permission even though I could. What the hell do I do?
Kind querent: Driving is a huge responsibility. Like, the hugest. Are you a responsible driver? Have you ever driven for nine straight hours? Are you sure you’re up to it? What about other possibilities? You could take an airplane, or you could drive halfway there and have your uncle meet you halfway.
I went to Florida once with my mother, my sister, and my sister’s best friend (at the time). Let me paint a picture for you: we had a condo to ourselves, and no one could get along. My mother kept freaking out over, well, everything. The VCR didn’t work. (This was back in the day. You understand.) One day, Mother freaked over her fear that she hadn’t locked the house. I muttered, “At least we don’t have to worry about the thieves stealing the broken VCR.” Two people appreciated my humor. One didn’t. Things went downhill from there.
But the primary conflict was between my sister and my mom. I don’t remember exactly what went wrong, but there was backstabbing, trash-talking, and smear campaigns. And when I sat outside in the hot tub with my sister and her friend, Mother assumed I was siding with them. I had to assure her I wasn’t, because the twelve-hour drive home hadn’t even begun yet. Do you see where I’m going with this?
I’m telling you this because you need to be aware of the gravity of the situation. Sure, you might go and have a great time, but if not, you’ll have to drive home for nine hours with your friend in the car with you. If relations are strained, there will be times when you’ll be tempted to dump him on the side of the road. (Don’t ask how I know that. It’s not important.)
I still remember the drive home from that ill-fated vacation. It was like a cold war. Mother wasn’t speaking to anyone, my sister was only speaking to her friend, and her friend was afraid to say anything out loud. For twelve hours. Then someone farted (noisily and with what I think was deliberate intent), and all hell broke loose.
Then, we got back to town on Tuesday. (The plan had been to stay in Florida all week.) And I’d begged off from work for the whole week, so after we returned to town early, I had to hide from my employers for the rest of the week. Like, “No, I didn’t beg for time off to go on a vacation that I made up. Really, I was in Florida! You’ve never met my mother… or my sister…”
All I’m saying is that you might not know what you’re getting yourself into. A week-long trip with long travel hours is a huge undertaking. But I feel your pain. So if you really want to go on this trip, you need to convince your parents you’ll be responsible and that you can handle (almost) any eventuality. Put their minds at ease, and maybe offer them something in return (like that you’ll do extra chores, etc.). If they still won’t let you go, then reread my vacation nightmare. Be careful what you wish for! [Shudders.] Did I mention I got sunburned?