Last spring, while in the crampy throes of miscarriage #2, Ben’s teacher from his hippie Nut Ban! school called me with some troubling news: Ben was having a terrible time staying on track and on task during the school day. It wasn’t a terrible shock to me to learn this; at home he frequently forgets to do simple multi-step things–like wiping his ass–and Dave and I were both having a hard time keeping him on track.
Nat, Ben’s biological father, suffers from Adult ADD (grown from childhood ADD) so badly that if I need something–let’s say a sweatshirt–from him, I have to catch him 10 or so minutes before he walks out the door, and STILL I’ll have only about a 25-30% chance of getting said sweatshirt back. Ever.
So while I wasn’t watching and waiting for Ben’s spectrum diagnosis, I have been vigilantly watching for any signs of ADD in Ben so that I could get it properly treated. Because to me, someone who is annoyingly focused, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to live life so scatteredly (I don’t even pretend that this is a word). Especially to a child who is in school.
Over the past 6 months or so, with a school change under his belt, I’ve been carefully watching and waiting to see if I could see any sorts of improvement with Ben’s ability to focus. I’ve seen no change either way, but I was waiting for parent-teacher conferences to speak with the teacher (who had no knowledge of his former teacher mentioning it) to confirm what I’d suspected and ask for what the next steps should be for us.
Obviously, this isn’t something I’m going to buck wildly at and insist that MY child is PERFECT, it’s the SYSTEM that’s flawed, because I’m more of a realist than that, and I DON’T think that having to follow Ben around and ride him to complete any task is the way to parent him. Nor, quite frankly, do I have the time to do this, even if I wanted to.
Parent-teacher conferences are in a week and a half, but yesterday I got a report card with a note attached confirming my suspicions: Ben is still having an awful time focusing at school and staying on task.
And even though I’d been expecting it, reading those words transported me back to receiving the news that Ben was likely on the autistic spectrum. While certainly not “leukemia” it’s still never great to hear that your child, your poor sweet child has something wrong with him (or her).
Not because I belong to the My Child Is The Perfectest Child EVER club, because I can assure you on all that is holy that his shit really does stink, but because I know just how much harder life will be for him. That, THAT is what I am sad about.
We’re going to wait until parent-teacher conferences to hear face-to-face what the teacher has to say and listen to any suggestions that he has to give us. And we’ll get Ben the help that he needs, of course we will, and we’ll do it without complaint.
But I sit here, and I look at my youngest son, whose biggest hurdle in life right this moment is the fact that he cannot always stack the blocks just so that it does not topple over after he hits 10 or so blocks in his tower. And I am sad to remember that his problems will only get harder and harder as he grows.
And I only wish that I could face all of the problems FOR him.