Friday, April 20, 2012

Wanna Ride Bikes?*

Only a select few in my inner circle will "get" the title of this blog.  For those not in the know, I'll explain....

But first, I must make a confession.  I have never really subscribed to the whole ADD / ADHD "thing."  This, of course, is the result of having perfect children.  Snort.  I always pessimistically viewed this "diagnosis" as a lazy excuse for parents who had out of control kids.  Why do these people not get it?  Control your child!!

Ha!  Which brings me to the title of my blog.  Before I knew what I am beginning to know now, one of my favorite jokes was (is):

Q:  How many kids with ADD does it take to change a light bulb?
A:  Wanna ride bikes?

I still like the joke.  It's just that now, I am living with it. If you can't laugh at your life, what can you laugh at, really?

Technically, I don't really have an ADD / ADHD child.  We're just at the very start of this process.  He hasn't been diagnosed with anything, yet.  What I know is, Houston, we have a problem.  My son, Connor, is amazing.  AH-MAZE-ING.  He's eight and a half, and pure awesomeness.  He is freakishly (in a good way) smart, highly empathetic, playful, exasperating, tiring and simply beautiful.  He is in second grade, and reading at a sixth grade level.  He has the ability to break down a problem and solve it quickly, and can put together a complex Lego kit in under an hour.  He is sensitive, loving and can't keep his hands off you if he loves you. When he sees me cry, he silently hugs me.  It's how he rolls.  

He also can't concentrate on any one thing for longer than 90 seconds.  I've dubbed this as his "going away."  

In First Grade, I received weekly, sometimes daily, notes home from his teacher stating her opinions of his behavior and lack of focus.  We had occasional conversations about it, but I didn't take a lot of it seriously.  I was arrogant, and was sure that she just couldn't keep my uber awesome son engaged.  I figured this was all age appropriate behavior.  I spoke to his Pediatrician, and she agreed.  He wasn't behind academically, so no worries.  Plus, I had his sister ahead of him.  Suffice it to say, I have alarmingly intelligent children.  What I am learning is that how one learns and performs isn't necessarily how the other does.  Duh.

But, lo...Second Grade dawns.  Apparently, not all improves with age.  However, we were blessed with a really proactive, engaged teacher.  We met regularly to discuss not what was wrong, but what could be done.  Together we came up with a plan.  And then, together we came up with another.  And another, and another....and so on.  We changed diet.  We changed sleep.  We tried positive reinforcement.  We tried loss of privileges.  We let Connor decide what would help.  We tried EVERYTHING.  It.  Just.  Got. Worse.

We had a conversation at school this past Monday.  In three and one half hours, all Connor was able to accomplish, due to distraction, was to write four sentences.  Four sentences.  What is that?!  When we discussed this, I burst into tears.  Not because I was disappointed in my son, but because I was completely and literally out of answers.  I was tapped out.  I had no more ideas.  I was ashamed.  Good Moms always know what to do "next", don't they?  I was relieved that his teacher had no more ideas left.  For a minute. It didn't help, because regardless of what she said, I still, in my heart, knew I was failing my child.

So, suddenly, I maybe wanted to know more about this ADD / ADHD.  I had to bitterly choke down the notion that it was, somehow, an excuse for poor behavior or lazy parenting.  I know that I have tendencies toward lazy, but with regards to my children, I am often a Tiger Mom.  More than once, and with more than one person, I have been accused of being too hard on them with regards to discipline and expectations.  I will not make an apologies for this.  If they had "C" brains, I'd accept "C" grades.  I also have zero tolerance for poor manners.  But this goes beyond that.  Connor does not exhibit poor manners.  To the contrary, he is exceptionally well mannered and caring.  He just can't get shit done.  I digress..

I had to have a conversation with my ex-husband, a task I typically dread, about this issue.  I was pleasingly surprised that we were on the same page.  We aren't always, but I have learned to nod and smile, and then do what I know is right, regardless.  But together we (I) came up with a game plan, and made the necessary appointments.  I'll let you know how they go as the results come in.

I am grateful to the friends and family and teachers that have rallied.  I was not expecting it, and am humbled by it.  I've gleaned a TON of advice and knowledge about ADD / ADHD, and I am optimistic.  I've had several "light bulb" moments in the past few days, and I'm trying to organize it.  Stay tuned....

* the title of this blog comes with special thanks to Tim Tunnell.  I needed a name that reflected not only the blog, but my sense of humor as well.  Sometimes, when you're in the thick of an issue, you need someone to remind you of who you are, and I thank Tim for that.

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