I love what this woman said in her blog, “No One is Perfect and You Are A Great Kid” and I’ve repeated it here: “My hope and prayer is that the people in general open their minds and come to realize that children like mine, who suffer with these illnesses, are not bad kids, not evil or purposefully oppositional but are lovable, kind, funny, smart and full of promise as is every other child. Yes, they may do things differently, loudly, extremely, and outrageously. They need to be given understanding, reassurance, patience, acceptance and compassion.”
She went on to talk about people criticizing her parenting style and saying that her son was “spoiled,” a term I heard just this past week from a family member. Even though three separate professionals have categorized my son with ADHD, there are people who still think he’s just “spoiled,” which is a commentary on our parental choices rather than an acknowledgement of his illness. No one wants to admit, even though our son was adopted, that there is possibly something wrong. Despite his imperfections, there is also a lot of something great about him. He is a great story teller, who weaves characters into intricate scenarios that are often humorous. He is (mostly) caring toward his sister. He is affectionate and sensitive. He is sings on key and creates his own lyrics to popular tunes. He has a great memory and call out the finest details from an event. He is observant and bright. He is as cute and any Gap model. Like the child referenced in “No One Is Perfect …” our son has amazing gifts that far surpass the frustration in having to raise him in a way that will allow him to be who he is while still functioning in society.
He may not fit into a neat little box. He may not behave exactly as everyone would like. But he has been given a mother who knows what it’s like to think outside of the box. I never fit in either and I rarely behave the way people would like for me to (even today). I am far from perfect and therefore I do not expect my son to be either.
I have two young children so many hours of my days (after work and on weekends) and nights are spent picking up pieces – Legos, super heroes, pieces of food, paper, etc. The other night, as a stood surveying the aftermath of the children’s dance night and spinning object battle, I realized I won’t always be picking up tangible pieces. I will also be picking up pieces of broken hearts, broken spirits and just plain brokenness.
This has been the case with my 5 year-old, who has had a difficult time adjusting to Kindergarten. I fondly remember this level of education as one of the most enjoyable. My grandmother would come to our home in Cleveland, Ohio and walk me to school. I remember a teacher with a warm smile and I remember a feeling of excitement and anticipation. I can’t specifically recall much of what we did but I met my childhood best friend at Stephen E. Howe and I bonded with my grandmother on those walks through the neighborhood to the school.
My son has not met a similar fate (at least not yet). The school grounds are full of chaos in the morning with parents running their kids to the doors, trying to avoid receiving dreaded late slips. The kids get a two week reprieve before delving into the homework arena which includes math, language arts and a “book report” (a drawn rendition of what they read). During the first week of class, my son decided to lie on the floor during the learning period. He told me later his father woke him up too early that day. This was the beginning of a flurry of outbursts, tantrums and other unacceptable behaviors. His teacher emailed me and requested a meeting the second week so that we could discuss a plan to address his defiant behavior. In other words, your child is broken and we need to figure out how to fix him. Unbeknownst to her, I had already had him tested because he had a difficult time in preschool. His antics included jumping on a table and singing during lunch one time and riling the entire class during nap time by getting them to repeat his chant while running around the room. This little display required the assistance of two aides to get the children to settle down. The testing revealed that he displayed average intelligence in some areas and superior intelligence in others. It also concluded that he might have ADHD. The problem is that he may also be gifted.
Here are signs that your child has ADHD (according to WebMD):
Toddlers and preschoolers may be unable to sit still, follow even simple directions, or control impulses. They may become angry for no reason and hit their peers or siblings. They tend to be impatient, breaking in line on the playground, or interrupting others when they are talking or playing. They may move constantly, jump from one activity to another, and have a high level of energy and a low sense of danger (and perhaps a high threshold for pain). When shopping, they may refuse to sit in the shopping cart or stroller; they may take items from the shelves and open them or throw tantrums if you don’t buy something they want.
Sounds like our kid!
But here are signs that your child may be gifted:
- Retains Information.
- Wide Spectrum of Interests: Gifted kiddos display an interest in a wide variety of topics. They may like dinosaurs one month, space the next month, and so forth. ..
- Writes and Reads Early (not yet).
- Is Musically or Artistically Talented
- Shows Periods of Intense Concentration
- Has a Good Memory
- Has an Advanced Vocabulary
- Pays Attention to Details
- Acts as His Own Critic
- Understands Complex Concepts
Also sounds like our kid! Except for reading, our son has all of those qualities. As a matter of fact, the same test that concluded he showed signs of ADHD also put his memory at a level 5 years older than his biological age!
So, I’m not sure if we’re dealing with a gifted kid who is totally manipulating us (after all, he told me this morning, “I think I want to behave in school in the first grade”). This is also the same kid who said at 3, upon hearing that he would receive a gift if he finally pottyed in the toilet, “how bout you give me the toy now and I start pottying in the toilet afterwards?” Seriously?!
Some people say he’s just bored. Others say he needs to be put on meds. I’m pulling my hair out, vacillating between frustration and sadness. Daily, I am reading, scanning the internet and psychology books for answers. My friends are even in on it, occasionally sending me emails and referring me to other smarter people who are more educated on the subject of children. Dad tries to be patient but it is not natural for him. He is the kind of person who is measured and controlled. He feels he should be able to pull a lecture out of his sleeve, lay it on our son and like magic, our son should get it and behave. Better yet, our son should just know how to behave instinctively. Admittedly, some kids do have that quality but our son is not one of them. And I’m not sure if it has to do with the lectures (or lack thereof in my case) or if it’s just part of his DNA. Our son was trying to get a laugh out of people before he could even talk. It moved him. But he only wants to do it, well, when he wants to do it.
Alas, our son has another test next week and I hope we will get more answers. I hope we will get some suggestions as to how to help him succeed. What I don’t want to have to pick up are pieces of his enthusiasm for learning, his overall joy or his self-esteem. For me, picking up pieces of crackers is far more desirable—no matter how many of them there are.