I love this picture. I love that my son loves it and likes to keep on the shelf in his room. He must see what I see in it. Simpler times, mommy, daddy and C. We didn’t have too many worries then. We were basking in the bliss of our first born son and life was good.
What my son is too little to know that I look up at that photo many times a day. It gets me through the day to see that little face. Barely 1. Our faces.
My son is too little to know that I glance at it when I’m scared for him. I glance at it when I’m frustrated with him – when I’m completely out of patience and feel like I have no answers. When I feel the guilt and pain creep up and when I feel like the worst parent in the entire world.
My son, at 5, was recently diagnosed with ADHD. It’s young for a diagnosis. – we know. But it’s been clear since about 2 that something was ‘off.’ An ADHD diagnosis is all that they will give him at such a young age. We know he needs to access services, so we sought the diagnosis to get him the services he needs at school.
Still, I suspsect more.
He was screened for autism, but didn’t meet the criteria. Still, the trained teacher in me sees something there – perhaps because ADHD and Autism are possibly more closely linked than most think.
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I come in and glance at the photo above because it reminds me of a time when words like “ADHD,” ‘autism, and ‘aspergers’ were not swirling in my head. And why are there days whn I swear there is nothing wrong at alll – when he acts perfectly fine and in control? Only to have the next day be filled with constant meltdowns. It’s a constant roller coaster ride.
For now, we take it one day at a time. We don’t let our son get away with his behaviors, but we don’t blame him for being this way. He doesn’t understand and can barely control it. All we can do it is push on and teach him more appropriate ways to tackle life and social situations. Still, I can’t help but think constantly how unfair this is. I know our son is not suffering from something as debilitating as a childhood illness, cancer or a severe developmental delay – far too many children do. I’m not seeking to compare myself to those parents who face their own extraordinary battle. We are thankful our children are healthy. Still this OUR reality and it is still a struggle every day.
He’s too little to know that I miss his innocence. I miss him being care-free, as opposed to the constant battles we have with him daily. As he gets older, the differences between him and other children his age becoming more and more clear. And that’s heartbreaking.
He’s too little to know that I am scared every single day for what may come. The outbursts, the tantrums, the difficult behaviors and sensory issues were all things I thought he would grow out of. But that never happened.
He’s too little to know that I worry all the time about his social interactions. And how I can never predict if he will hold it together or lose control. There are times when he’s so well behaved, like nothing is wrong. On days like that, I used say, “hmm, maybe this is just a stage. Maybe he is okay.” I’ve learned not to do that anymore. The ups and downs have taught me that there will be good days and there will be bad days. And then there will be really bad days. The ups are what I consider to be my son’s real self – his real personality. His downs are when this developmental, neurological disability takes over.
He’s too little to know that I’m so tired of hearing people say, “well, it could be worse.” Sure, it could be. I’m always aware of what we have to be thankful for. But hard is hard. And whatever hardship people are dealing with at that time is hard for them.
He’s too little to know that his own mom used to be guilty of misunderstanding ADHD. As a teacher, I worked with kids of all abilities and did my best, but I know I believed some of the stereotypes about ADHD as a young teacher. There simply is not enough focus given to TRULY understanding this disorder. I didn’t realize the full scope of what some of the parents of students with ADHD may have been dealing with at home. Now, I do.
He’s too little to know that I see the stares when he acts out. That I watch people as they interact with him to see if they know or notice the small differences. Pained when they look at him strangely.
He’s too little to know that I stay awake every night worried about him. I worry about his twin sisters, hoping they are okay. I wonder if they will struggle growing up with a brother who is so difficult to interact with and takes all of his parents’ time. He’s too little to know that I worry that one day I will be scared of him. That idea is a nightmare to me.
He’s too little to know that I blame myself. I wonder what caused this. Was it the-stressful job I had when I was pregnant with him? Was it what I ate? Was it allowing the doctors to induce me? I’ll never know.
He’s too little to know that I forgive him when he hits me, tells me he hates me, kicks or yells. I know it’s an outburst. I know it’s not him. WE DO hold him accountable, but I always try to get him back to his true self and hug it out.
He’s too little to know that I treasure the positive moments when he’s a sweet, affectionate, inquisitive and funny 5 year old outweight those bad moments. I know my son is truly a sweet, caring and amazing kid and that the other side is a disability.
He’s too little to know that I know school will be difficult. As a former teacher and school counselor, I know that schools expect kids to fit a mold. Students gravitate towards others that fit the mold and it’s a bit harder to find understanding in teachers and peers.
BUT, despite it all, he’s too little to know how hard his mamma is going to work to teach him that he decides what he will be. No on else. Labels or no labels.
But, C, you are not too little to know that I will be here for you always. Even though I may shed tears when no one is looking, raise my voice when you frustrate me or make a poor parenting choice, I will be his strong advocate.
I can do it. I will do it. I must do it – because of the promise I made to that baby in the above picture. I will always see a glint of that smiling baby when I look at his face. I will keep the promise I made when he was swaddled up and tiny.
I love you C. We will get through this – it will be okay.