I played host to a group of six, seven and eight year old boys this weekend. It was only for a few hours, and I definitely wasn’t alone, but it’s one more of those firsts as my child grows into this separate little human being. It’s been a very difficult summer for my head, all the thoughts and emotions and processing and what not going on in the jumble of brain matter, and it was pretty awesome to see him having fun with other kids, as he does not regale me with his daily daycare adventures. Our conversations upon pickup go something like this:
Me: “Hey kiddo, how was your day?”
Caolan: “Good. I’m hungry. What can I do when we get home?”
Me: “I don’t know. I’ll make dinner. Did you do anything fun today?”
Caolan: “I don’t remember. Can I play my Kindle when we get home?”
Me: “Maybe after dinner. Who did you play with?”
Caolan: “Really? After dinner?!”
He could be a spy. He gives me nothing.
The end of this year was especially difficult, because he was officially diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive type. This was not surprising considering genetic lineage, but still not something a mother has an easy time hearing. That, however, wasn’t the hardest part. I had to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork, as well as sending a whole bunch of similar paperwork to school with Caolan for one or two of his teacher’s to fill out. It was reading their responses, and seeing the discrepancies on his report card, that really hit me.
He received an excellent report card. The paperwork made him sound like he was disruptive, miserable, lonely and unable to learn or finish anything.
I still find the discrepancies bothersome. This is my child. This is his future.
Was he faking his general happiness throughout the year? I don’t think so. Perhaps I’m being presumptive to think keeping him separated caused a separation between him and his classmates, as he was kept in so much to finish his work. So, if something like punishment isn’t working, should it continue? Continue doing something with the hope of different results? And if it continues, how will he not see himself as different? As someone who is not as smart as his classmates? There is a reason I hate labels; labels define and categorize and they are damn difficult to get away from. At seven, I’ve put a label on my child that could follow him his whole life; how does he not use this when defining himself? How does he not see how others define him based on labels?
Well, what I do know is that I need to take a much more active role in his school day. Helping with homework and reading and such aren’t enough; I need to be more involved in making sure that just because my kid can’t sit at a desk and work on something he knows how to do, doesn’t mean he keeps being separated out from his classmates and kept in during recess. Keeping a kid separated who’s having a tough time time getting work done a few times might not be such a bad idea, but when it becomes more often than not, well, maybe it’s doing more harm than good. Punishing a child who already feels like he’s different than his classmates doesn’t seem logical, especially when it doesn’t work.
Sometimes one exclamation point just isn’t enough.
We live in a beautiful city by Lake Michigan, I have this kickass deck I can write on, and a child who is hilarious, loving and intelligent. We are surrounded by awesome people in our lives. There are so many positives. It’s tough for me not to get dragged down by the negative, but, here, today, sitting on this deck with my Wonder Woman coffee mug, my zombie gnome and my blue sky view, it’s tough to not be optimistic. We will get it figured out. Life is hard. It doesn’t get different, or easier, or less crazy after one hard time passes, because there will always be difficulties.