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.
This will be long …for me at least (A.D.D. will start soon..)
If you have read my stories, you will know that I don’t forget faces, especially those from relationships. And if you have read my stories, you know I talk about one specific girl in my stories – “Marie.” She put me in a downward spiral of self hate, self harm, and no self worth.
School recently started. I saw her, but I didn’t recognize her. Me, the one who never forgets a face, never gets over a girl, and I forgot! I got over her. I wanted to start crying, breaking down. For some reason, my life had frozen. I didn’t try to look for her like I used to. I had forgotten her, forgot it all. I didn’t just forget “Marie,” but the rape, the hate, all of it.
I forgot everything except the hate. People hate me because I have screwed up. I am angry. I have unimaginable rage. Right now, even the computer I’m typing on is angering me so much, but I resist. I resist the urge to lash out.
So, I met a girl. She is the sweetest girl, and she just stops me. I know I will regret saying this, but I really do love her. She is my world. When “Brina” just caresses me and holds me tight, she stops the rage and anger …and the self harm.
The earlier generations don’t seem to understand. To them, depression is a mood, not a mental illness. We didn’t choose the pain, self harm, or anger, we were born with it. We grew up faking the smile, hiding it until some sees a cut, the scar tissue, the hole in the wall, the pure hatred of society.
We struggle to simply wake up in the morning and function as a human beings, yet we still wake up. We get up, even though there is no motivation, our faces tear-stained, our hearts beating for that one girl or boy we like. We want that one special person to know the pain, the quirks, the oddities, and unknown anger. We want that one person to look into our eyes and know our hearts beat for love.
I want that one girl to see me and know that my eyes see only her. I want her to see why I wake to an ever-beating heart deep in my chest.
I found that girl. And she saw me…
My anger is clashing with my feelings of love and affection! Please help me. Reach out to me. I want to start changing my life!
Stay strong, all of you. YOU are my family.
G., my five-year old, has weekly therapy sessions. Right now we’re using therapy to help manage his ADHD symptoms but I’m also hoping that it’s able to help with his inability to express his feelings or relate to other children. My husband recently sent me an e-mail mentioning that G. asked when N., my two-year old, was going to start going to therapy.
And it made me cry.
G. doesn’t know that he’s different. I hope that he never does. We’re taking the necessary steps to help him at an early age. But it is hard. It’s hard having a child that behaves and reacts to things in a way that I don’t understand. I know that some of it, of course, is his age, but a lot of it has to do with ADHD.
T-ball is a prime example. Yes, I know. They are five. Attention spans aren’t exactly what your average five-year-old is known for. But when his team is on the field, the other little boys watch the ball and chase after it while G. lets it roll on by because he’s staring at the sky…or picking grass…or laying flat on his back in the outfield.
I’m the type of person who likes routine. I want things to go the way they’re supposed to go and get stressed or anxious when they do not. I realize that is my issue, and I’m working on it.
Routine does not work well with G. Requests with multiple steps do not work with G. Trying to get him to focus on anything for more than a few minutes does not work with G.
I know how swimming lessons and gym class have gone. I know how he has responded to soccer and T-ball. School is still a bit of a mystery to me. I know he’s a sweet and charming child and I know that he does well with women he likes. I also know that Kindergarten is packed with activities which means that the kids are never at any activity for too long, although the lessons of the day are repeated throughout, just in different ways. So it’s probably ideal for him.
But still, I worry. I worry that he can’t tell me the names of any of the students in his class. I worry that he’s not learning what he needs to be learning. I worry that Kindergarten may be the easy part, and next year first grade is going to throw us for a loop. I worry because that’s what I do, but also because of who he is. I’ve been worried about school from the first day I suspected that he had ADHD.
I worry because I watched my brother grow up with ADHD, and I watched him struggle. Things like school and making friends were so much harder for him. My brother is doing fantastically now. He’s working on his Master’s Degree. He’s in a career suited to his interests and personality. And he is still best friends with his best friends from fourth grade. One of whom was the best man at his wedding.
I know that I am not alone. I know there are other parents out there dealing with the same issues with their children.
On the bad days, however, it doesn’t make it any easier.