This year has been quite the transitional year for me because I became a working from home mom. One thing I am learning the hard way is that raising two boys, who are just two years apart, is a huge and frustrating task on some days.
Aside from trying to break arguments up between my boys at home, I started seeing changes in my 5th grader about half way through the school year this year. I noticed he didn’t bring homework, he lost items like library books, shoes, his backpack at least twice a week and I can’t tell you how many times I had to replace his lunch bag! Don’t get me started how on many times he loses pieces of his soccer uniform every week. But the biggest change I saw in my 5th grader was that he couldn’t tell me what he learned in school. As a 10 year old, he should be able to tell me the gist of what topics they discussed at school. He should be able to tell me what they are doing in Math! Nope. Nada. He’d tell me “my class is too loud; I can’t understand the lesson because I am distracted.” What? So I decided to send emails to his teachers inquiring about his academic and social behaviors at school. Then I stood back for awhile, putting my teacher hat on and began observing my own child’s behavior at home.
It took me only a few days to realize these were not changes I was seeing in my son for the first time.
In prior years he went to school with me and anytime he “forgot” his homework, backpack, jacket, etc.. you name it, he lost it, I’d send him back to the classroom or the lunchroom to find it. He was always able to locate his lost item of the day. But he had the opportunity to go look for it because I worked at his school. When he couldn’t “focus” in class because it was so loud, I made sure he was pulled out for small group and he did great! When at home, I knew he was in the kitchen at some point because the pantry and cabinet doors would be left open and there would be spilled juice on the counter. He didn’t finish cleaning up after himself because I called him to get his laundry or take the dogs out. He’d do the task that I gave him and then he would move onto the next thing. He wasn’t purposely leaving a mess behind, he just got distracted. So why had I not seen the signs before? I’m a teacher and I’ve been trained to notice behaviors in young children as well as make accommodations and modifications for students that needed it. Was I making accommodations for my own son while being in denial? For years, he begged me to homeschool him. I’d say no every time he brought it up and didn’t think twice about it. I never understood why he persisted on me homeschooling him until now.
After crying myself to sleep a few times and then only to wake up and cry a little more before our day started, I realized that I couldn’t beat myself up for not seeing it. I kept thinking how is my son going to handle middle school next year? OMG! He’ll have 7 different classes with all those transitions in between. His grades were never a factor, he’d always been an A/B student. But just a few months ago, they started to slip. The distractions in the classroom were beginning to be too much for him. He isn’t a wiggle worm in his seat, he can sit still and pay attention IF he’s in a structured environment. I’ve always known this in the back of my mind, but it didn’t register for me until now.
My son’s best attribute is that he can recall facts like no one I know when it comes to topics like sports, history, social studies…. he has an amazing memory when his interest is peaked. But when the class is loud and there’s no real classroom management in place, he struggles. He struggles big time. Mentally, he shuts down and feels lost. And I can’t be in that classroom to help him when he’s feeling hopeless. Cue in the sound of my breaking heart….
When I sat down and talked to my son about the concerns his dad and I had, he became sad. We talked about the signs of A.D.D. and what it means to be living with it. To see him get teary eyed during that conversation and say “Mom, that describes me, all of it does” made me sad too. I am natural problem solver, so it was hard for me to reach out for help. But I did and I did it for my sweet son who makes friends everywhere he goes. I did it for my son who I love to the moon and back.
We’re seeing a specialist now that is an expert with children living with A.D.D. We’re on the right track though it’s towards the end of the school year. I’m working on strategies towards helping him improve his focus in class and at home. Some days are harder than others, but I know it’s working. He came home excited with his homework in hand the other day! “Mom! Do you know how I remembered to bring my homework home? I wrote a note to myself and taped it to my desk.” That deserved a big hug and a “mijo, I am so proud of you!” He always gets hugs and kisses from me. But this time was much more special and he knew that.