Janet Christie's Mum’s the Word - Dyslexia delivers a different view of the world

An alternative way of seeing

Mum's the Word. Pic: janzwolinski - stock.adobe
Mum's the Word. Pic: janzwolinski - stock.adobe
Mum's the Word. Pic: janzwolinski - stock.adobe

“I saw that same couple earlier,” says Youngest in the passenger seat as I’m driving along. “They must just be walking in squares.”

“You mean circles,” I say.

“No, the streets don’t go in circles. Round here they’re in straight lines so they’re walking in squares. Or maybe rectangles.”

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Meanwhile her friend in the back of the car is recounting how she’d paid for a block of driving lessons then broke a limb and couldn’t do them so couldn’t get the money back.

“Oh so you’d paid in abundance?” says Youngest.

“You mean advance?” I say, and her friend and I laugh.

“No, I mean in abundance. Don’t be condescending.”


Now that I know Youngest Child is dyslexic it all makes sense. I should have picked it up earlier but in my defence it’s not that obvious when a child knows every word of her favourite bedtime stories, plus she has beautiful handwriting, can spell and has good vocabulary. It’s when written sentences and wordage gets too long and strung out that she loses track.

In retrospect she knew the stories by heart from memory (I certainly did - how I hated the Disney Princesses book, a gift that was disappeared when I could no longer thole the airhead princesses and mansplaining, square-jawed princes). It also explains why she was a demon at Where’s Wally? (Who cares? So I loved that she was so fast).

The dyslexia also explains why she didn’t click I was changing the fairy tale endings. Happily ever after? Nope. Cinderella moved into the castle, chucked him out to live in a shooting lodge, installed multiple walk-in wardrobes for all of those amazing dresses and founded a successful property refurbishment business.

I should have realised when Youngest simply stopped reading books around the time she left primary school. Even a child with amazing recall will struggle to commit a whole Harry Potter to memory.

“Why bother?” Middle Child used to say. “Eldest has read them all. Just ask him. Or watch the films like I did.”

Anyway, I ken noo, and so do her educators, so life for Youngest just got easier.

“You mean life for people around me just got easier,” she says. “I’m fine. What’s inside my head has always been inside my head and that’s how I see things. It’s an advantage other people don’t have. A way of seeing the world.”

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