Parenting Is Not A Competition
In kindergarten, my daughter was singled out by her “crazy old lady/about to retire” teacher who said Maddie was “very inattentive and probably needed to be evaluated for ADD.”
I was all, “this women has a whole SEVEN kids to look after with a damn assistant! She obviously is lacking and totally sucks at life to not be able to handle SEVEN kids and she’s the one who needs to be evaluated. “
Unable to even fathom such a thing for my perfect little princess, I took her out of the expensive private school and started first grade in the public school. The local school a few blocks away is really new and great and shiny!
First grade began, and she seemed to be doing well until our first Parent/Teacher conference. Once again, ADD was brought up by her very young, energetic teacher.
Again, I couldn’t wrap my brain around this possibility. My daughter was so caring and sweet and there was no way in living hell there was something wrong with her!
But I relented, and took her to see the pediatrician armed with a heavy dose of internet literature regarding the scary ADD possibility. What I didn’t expect was to identify with most of the symptoms listed on the checklist.
So, with a heavy heart, I accepted that yes, my little angel was indeed struggling in school. She was beginning to show signs of a low self-esteem as a result of her poor behavior. She was showing the insensitiveness that comes with a child with ADD. She was unable to see how others may feel. She was pretty self-centered.
I waved my White Flag and tried to stop feeling sorry for myself or guilty for something I could have done to prevent this from happening. I gave up the idea that my daughter would be a stellar student and be the top of her class. I mourned (seriously GRIEVED) the possibilities I had built up all through her early years of how magnificent she would surely be. I shed real tears and experienced a heartbreak that I didn’t think was possible.
I felt extremely defeated until I buckled down and became her advocate. I fought long and hard to get her school to become involved in her special education program that would work for her. I went full speed ahead with every behavior modification the school could provide that might make a sliver of a difference.
Over the years, she was given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with in-school modifications for test-taking and a more thorough explanation for her assignments. Her seat was moved in order to minimize distractions and although she continued to struggle, she was really improving.
Along with the modifications, we began trying medication. I was overjoyed when we finally found one that really helped her without the harsh side effects. This process was heartbreaking, but we found the one that works for her and for this I am grateful.
So now, here we are in the fifth grade. Report card comes home and finally there are mostly B’s on it. There are two C’s, but compared to last year when she was mostly C’s and D’s this was such an amazing moment for me and her to see everything we were doing was paying off!
I was so excited that I wanted to dance around the room; this was not something that I am used to. This was something that has taken so long. I didn’t even it was possible to see a report card such as the one she got today.
After saying all of this, maybe you can understand why, after sharing with you my pure bliss, I would be upset when you complain to me, a whopping two minutes later, about the one B your daughter received on her report card when every other grade was an A. How I got frustrated, left the room and didn’t want to show you my daughter’s report card.
I do not make this a competition, as you so rudely accused me of. I would never have those sort of expectations for my daughter after every hurdle we have been through to get her to this point. That would just be unrealistic.
I know that your daughter is two years younger than mine and is enrolled in all advanced math and reading classes. I know that she is a very bright little girl and I would never ever try to diminish that! But I had a happy moment and you just don’t understand how complaining about that one B would make me feel. Here I was rejoicing all the B’s that were on Maddie’s report card and you were looking down on that very same grade; the one flaw on your daughter’s perfect grades.
So, just when I think we know everything about each other I suppose you don’t really know the entire story of the ADD path. And I don’t even know how to make you understand.
When you told me I was turning it in to a competition, it felt like a slap in my face. It showed me that your perception of me is way off. So now what? How do I make this better? After three and half years together, I love you. But I need you to be on my team with this. Not accuse me of a competition.
I wanted you to jump up and down with me and celebrate this victory.