Apparently my kid is a handful. He spent a week with his Grammy and his Gramps in New England, and Dave and I went to pick him up at the end of the week. They’re pretty crazy about him, and enjoyed having him around, which makes me endlessly happy and grateful. But keeping up with him was a nearly 24-hour affair.
His Grammy said “I see you post on facebook how exhausted you are, and he’s the reason why!” My Dad said “he is a high energy kid. Really high energy,” and gave me his look of emphasis. Then he said “he’s really smart, too.” I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding; I needed to hear that. My Dad’s raised alot of really smart kids; he knows what that looks like at four years old. It’s important to me that my son be smart, otherwise I don’t know how to relate to him, how to reason with him.
I didn’t realize that his behaviour was quite so… uptempo. I figured that this is what kids are like. I don’t have too much experience with little kids, rambunctious or otherwise. I knew my brothers when they were small, but I didn’t see them every day, not at four, and was pretty entrenched in my own life by then. C’s teacher this year reported that he would run in circles around the room at circle time. He couldn’t just sit and listen. Apparently this is abnormal. The other kids sat still.
I distinctly remember an incident in 1st grade when there was a thread hanging off my cords and I couldn’t break it off with my fingers. I wrenched and pulled but it wouldn’t budge. While my teacher was talking, I got out of my desk, and walked up to the front of the room. Clutching the thread and near tears, I asked for a scissor, displaying the offending thread. Mrs. Calagy looked at me disdainfully and harshly told me to go back to my seat, whereupon I sucked in my cheeks until I willed the tears away. I think of that now when kids are given drugs to combat things like OCD.
When C was evaluated by an occupational therapist, she said “it’s too soon to diagnose him with ADHD, but he may be on the spectrum.” I’ll say it right now, I’m against ADHD as a concept. I’m worried that, as we move along through the educational system, educators and guidance counselors are going to try to diagnose him with something, and then give him drugs. I’m against prescription drugs to correct mental behaviours in people under 23 years old. Dave is too. We’ve agreed, if drugging him turns out to be a requirement for formal education at some point, we’ll home school him. I don’t believe in the commonly held view of success, and I won’t drug my kid so that he complies with a false construct designed to propel him into life as a willing cog in a capitalist construct. Perhaps I’m a wee bit defensive.
I guess the fact that Dave and I have had this conversation on a few occasions means that we know C is a little wild, and that we see an awful lot of ourselves in him. When his teacher would tell us, this past year, about C’s impulses, we’d be like yeah, our parents heard that too.
We’re currently waiting for the Department of Education to let us know if C will be eligible for physical and occupational therapy services, which have been recommended by evaluators. During the OT evaluation, the evaluator said “this is all fixable.” She explained that some kids were unable to focus to such an extent that to get them to sit in a chair for the evaluation they had to wear weighted vests and ankle weights. C didn’t have to do that, but he did need to be wrangled in. Wrangling him in consists of getting, and holding, his attention, then communicating what it is that he needs to do, and if he gets distracted, repeating from the beginning. Our insurance covers OT, and we’re getting him started while the DOE takes its sweet time.
Watching your kid be like you is hard. When I look at C, I see endless potential. When I was a kid, what I saw ahead of me was a hallway full of closed doors, reflections of No, of Go Back to Your Seat. I hope that’s not what he sees. I hope I can help him know that there are no hallways, and no doors, only the vast expanse of possibility, and what he can make of it himself.
While C was in NH, Dave and I thought we should take a vacation together. Instead of going somewhere far, we took a road trip through New England, driving closer to our kid as we went. We had a delightful time, ate and drank our way from the Boston waterfront to Kenmore Square with my brother N and his lovely girlfriend; went up to the North Shore, watched boats, and ate lobster.