I debated what to call this post. "Dealing with ADHD" , "When You Want To Lock Your Kid Up Till They Get It", "When Homeschooling Looks Fabulous"...I could go on.
It's been quite a week. Raising kids in this generation of whatever is really curious to me. Let me just say I could not be happier that it's the last day of school. At the same time, I see I have my work cut out for me with gaining some training ground with my kids this summer.
I have two kids that just have a struggle with social skills. One slightly, and one severely. Emma has the most amazing sense of humor. She loves to laugh and she loves a good joke. She sees things from a quirky odd angle that can be extremely funny and awkward at other times. Add to that her lack of fear in saying what she thinks, and you have a recipe for both some amazing crack ups and moments of seat squirming. This past week she thought it would be funny to prank her one of her friends with a scary text message. I found out about this through a call from the principal of her school. Thankfully, it did not take place on school grounds because she would have been cited I'm sure. The text message read "The grim reaper is coming tonight for your and your sister" She intended to follow it up with a "just kidding..it's Emma" text but her phone was borrowed by her friend and she forgot.
Years and years ago, in a safe society, perhaps this would have been the joke it was meant to be. The parents freaked out and called the principal. I got asked if there was any hostile history between my daughter and this boy. If you know Emma, you know she does not have a hostile bone in her body. So, Rick and I spent a long time talking to her about the reality of the world she is growing up in where children who say these things may end up coming in and blowing other kids heads off. Yep, it's hard to tell your kid that reality but they have to know it. You know what, my conclusion is that this society really sucks. A kid cannot be a kid anymore. They can't play cops and robbers, they are limited on the playground from all kinds of normal things we use to play due to the threatening aspect of possible hostility.
Our challenge though was with the fact that at nearly 13, she did not get the social problem with it. I told her that was a good sign really that she lived in a happy bubble. She knows she would never inflict harm or truly wish to scare anyone but we adults DO live in a really, really scary world. Every day we send our kids off, we don't know if they will come back! So, as glad as I was for her happy bubble, I was myself shocked that she did not see how awful that text was.
Then, there is our son. Like just about every other boy, Caed has been diagnosed with ADHD. That in and of itself is another post. We saw signs when he was young but I was in denial and did not want to believe it was happening. You have one boy and you hope he never has it...and then he does. Some people believe this is a made up concept, or they believe it's an excuse for bad behavior. Don't judge unless you live with it. I know it's a fact. I do believe there are factors in our environment and society that create it or perhaps make it come to light in the way it does crippling our boys. The fast pace of society, the snap to it go-go pace, and the "here open your brain and let me pour all this in and if you spill a drop or don't get it all you will be in trouble". Oh, and add to that this: "while I do this dumping into your brain, let me put you in an environment of incredible distraction and overwhelming stimuli that will make it near impossible for you to receive any of it". I'm just so frustrated right now.
I know the steps with my son. He goes from doing okay, to struggling, to starting to feel insecure as he looses track on all levels (papers disappearing, forgotten, forgotten lunches, etc). He begins to space out which leads to more losing track. He does not hear instruction no matter how slow or repetitive it's given to him. He frustrates the teacher and feels the frustration. Add that to the frustration he all ready feels with himself and the element of semi-bulling he get's from kids at play time (he has been made fun of for not like sports like other boys and playing "imagination games" instead. the kids have told him he is too little to play act). Also, the desire to be funny when it's never appropriate to be so. You know what you get? A mad kid. His final straw is always anger. I know as his mom that that means he is at the end of a long line of issues that were not resolved. It also ends with an upset teacher.
In this past week he has just hit all the possible improprieties he can. He was given a writing assignment to write down something important that happened to him. All the other kids were writing about fun things and he wanted to write about how he fell and busted his head open when he was three. Not to mention that is just about how many words he used in his supposed paragraph of writing. I get it, there is no real way to sit down and deal with a kid like this in a classroom. He gets to a frustrated point and is sent out to work with a teacher one on one, and is asked to change the theme of his story. Instead he pics how his first dog he got had to go because it went potty in the house. Great. Just great.
But you know what!!!? That is what came to his mind! He is NOT good at creative writing. One of the problems with the ADHD is getting any productivity out of a kid when dealing with their weak points or points of no interest at all.
Out of his frustration he has been rude and what I interpret to be aggressive with his teacher and I can tell she is frustrated I don't have him on medication. We gave him meds for about three weeks (which was so difficult because he can't swallow a simple pill, which is the case with all my kids, so we have to open the pill and sprinkle the contents into jello but make sure he does not bite into any of it as it's time released) and he did not feel it was helping. About that time I got this awful gut feeling that I did not want to medicate him for now. Perhaps I panicked. Perhaps I gave into fear. I really don't know! Sometimes all you can go on in parenting is your gut! I made the decision to let him try out the rest of the year, get through the summer and see how the fall went after he matured a little more.
Of course it would be easier for the teacher if he is medicated. She expressed that he has taken up more energy and time than any of her other kids with his issues and I'm sure she is right. One of the reasons though is that all the other boys are on their meds. At least as far as I know. So, it makes me wonder why there is no plan for when a parent decided to wade through the symptoms? His two main symptoms as I see them are failure to focus on many levels, and failure to know social propriety. Those are huge issues in a classroom.
His issue yesterday (one among many) was that as he prepared a sticky note for a game where you go around and have classmates answer questions for the word on your back, he added the words "kick me" to the sticky note. At first I thought this was going on his own back but I was understanding the game wrong. If it had been him I actually could see the humor and thought perhaps he deserved any granted kicks. However, it is going on another classmate so of course it's inappropriate. He tries to be a goof at all the wrong times. The love of a good joke and a good laugh seems to be strong in my children but knowing when and where and at what level is the problem.
So, if you think having your kids in public school will cure all their social developments...it won't. I could not possibly have him in a more challenging environment for his issues. Yet, we don't want him at home. He has a whole world to learn to focus and succeed in and I we don't want him to miss out on the struggle to learn how to do this. In the mean time, it's not easy and anyone who thinks ADHD is a joke should follow my son for a few days. He is incredibly smart but tapping into the ability to use that seems to have so many stipulations.
As a parent you feel overwhelmed by how to discipline a child with these struggles. You see the patterns, and you sometimes don't know there was an escalation taking place until both he and the teacher are at their wits end. Then, you have to backtrack and unravel it all and find out what the bottom line problem is. Some of it's simply defiant sinful child, some is how his brain does or does not work, and some of it is circumstantial or environmental.
Did I say yet I'm glad school is over? Well I am. We have a meeting after school to try to talk some of this out with the teacher. I'm hoping that helps. I'm hoping we get through this.