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.
November 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm
So sorry it’s rough between you and this person. A lot of times people have a hard time thinking about things through the eyes of other people. It was a victory to have a report card like that, and a it was a big one! On a separate note, while I do hear and validate your grieving about the diagnosis of ADD and I know every kid is different, but SO many learn coping strategies over the years, with meds, without meds, with IEPs, without IEPs, through loving parents and teachers and do really well in life. I’m ADD and I think I’ve turned out pretty well. A friend of mine (also a girl) is a successful wedding photographer. I know there are as many difficult stories as there are ‘success’ stories, but I caution you to try hard to just let your daughter be who she is and the end of tale untold. (And by that I mean- don’t stop doing what you doing! Keep being her advocate, her momma, her champion and cheerleader. YOU are a very important piece in this puzzle!) Who knows who and where she’ll end up. I know it’s hard to think like that when you are in the thick of things. And especially when people are jerky and self-centered. HOPEFULLY this person isn’t someone whom you have to spend tons of time and emotional energy on. 🙁
November 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm
Thank you so much for your kind words. I agree, my daughter is going to grow to do great things, but at that specific time 4 years ago, I had very little knowledge of what this was going to mean for her. I have since become aware of her coping skills and see her improve every day! 🙂 Hooray!
November 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm
Nothing like a friend kicking you in the shin to make it feel like ripping your heart out with a spoon.
I am proud of your effort and energy you give to Maddie.
November 19, 2010 at 9:52 am
Well, if nothing else your friend demonstrated that she just doesn’t get it. She lacks the empathy chip. And the gratitude chip as well.
If you were competitive, as she accused you, then you would not have shared your story or your joy with her at all because you would have felt shame — like she does — instead of pride and relief at your daughter’s hard won performance.
People who fight for what they have will always have more appreciation and more insight than people who are handed everything. She’s right … it’s not a competition. That would be unfair to her and her daughter because you are playing on a whole different level of field than they are.
I hope you have or can find some community and support among people who do get it. Because you deserve that and so does your daughter (way to go, kiddo!). Of course there will always be people in your life that don’t get it. Just remind yourself there is no sense trying to get blood from a stone.
Sometimes when people complain (“She didn’t get straight A’s!”), it’s bragging in (thin) disguise. People who are compelled to behave that way are not healthy. Limit your contact — you have better places to put your strength. !! And you need to stay positive, which is no mean trick sometimes.
November 20, 2010 at 11:57 pm
** ** ** Three pompom shakes for you and your darling Maddie. I agree with Denise that looking for new team members will be helpful. If you your relationship with this other person has gone for a long period of time, you might decide that it is worth the effort to explain. I learned the hard way that some other people really don’t get the challenges and struggles you face. One way to visualize it is imagine your daughter in a sprint with the other little girl but instead of running shoes she has blocks of cement. Your Maddie probably put many times more effort in what she accomplished. I am so glad you recognize it is not a competition. You sound like an awesome mom for Maddie.
November 23, 2010 at 6:40 am
Your comment is so greatly appreciated. I do feel alone sometimes when it comes to what I deem a success for my daughter. People constantly ask me how she’s doing but not really wanting the real answer so I usually gloss over what’s really going on. Because most of the time she is struggling, but working so hard to overcome it so I don’t see it as such a negative thing. She is becoming stronger everyday, learning new ways to cope, and in the process becoming so strong! The person I am referring to is my long term boyfriend (3 and half years) and we have since discussed the issue. I think he just didn’t get it and he apologized more than once for his insensitivity.
Thanks again for your cheers and encouragement. That is what is so great about this site! A place to go, be heard and support others when they need it the most.
November 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm
My son has ADD so I can relate to your happiness of over grades of B’s and C’s. Homework is a constant struggle with us because by the time evening rolls around and we sit down to work on the homework, his ADD medication has worn off. His concentration disappears and he can’t remember anything that he was taught during the day. He is also in the 5th grade and has IEP modifications in place. I want him to do well and have him realize that his hard work will pay off. But I also understand what a struggle it is for him. So long, rambling comment cut short. I applaud you for being so proud of your daughter and remember that you’re not