We just had a parent-teacher conference and I didn’t cry. That is a huge accomplishment. Let me explain.
My oldest, Elle, has pretty severe ADHD. This isn’t a surprise to me because I had undiagnosed ADHD until I hit my second year of law school. In the 80’s, if you didn’t pay attention you got the business end of a teacher’s otherwise cheerful disposition. Being the ever eager people-pleaser that I was, I did what I had to do to make teachers like me. Plus, I was pretty high functioning and smart enough that I didn’t have to pay that close of attention to things. By high school, when it may have otherwise mattered, I was so emotionally off the rails that basically no one would have noticed my attention issues anyway.
Fast forward to raising a smart kid with an attention problem in this millennium. She has an IEP (individualized education plan) and a lot of school resources to help her learn and attend to what she needs to be attending to. The teachers and staff are kind and understanding and take on every challenge with a “can do” attitude. I love her school, her teacher, and the countless other people who help make her education a success.
The biggest change, though, from the near sobbing parent-teacher conferences of the past and today, is medication. I will full on admit that I was a Judgy McJudgerson about parents who had to resort to medicating their kids to get through life. I held these lofty beliefs and judgments before I had children. Oh yes, I knew how to raise a child better than anyone I knew who actually had kids. (Insert HARD eye roll)
Today, I see that medication is the one variable that has made all the difference. Last year, I would leave parent-teacher conferences feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Why wasn’t she on track? How poor of a parent was I? Why couldn’t I solve these problems for her? It was heartbreaking and it tore me up.
Now, I know better. She needed some help sorting things out in her brain. Her chemistry needed to be balanced. We still work hard with her, but the difference is she gets to experience being successful now. Which brings me to my most important point.
As hard as it was on me to feel like she just wasn’t getting it, she felt those feelings a hundred times deeper about herself. It was a deep pain that still breaks my heart today.
It’s not fair that a child has to struggle and suffer through low self-esteem and lack of confidence in her abilities. It’s not fair, but ADHD is the card she was dealt. So forget about fair, let’s focus on feasible. It is feasible now that she will perform to grade level. It is feasible now that she can rebuild the hurt and scared feelings she struggled with. It is feasible now that she can go back to being the shiny, quirky, stunning kid she was born to be.
Yes, I’m the parent who medicates her kid. I don’t give a shit about what anyone else thinks about that (besides Tom- who is totally on board). I am so proud of the little person she is and so grateful for a solution as clear and simple as this.
Today, I didn’t cry at parent-teacher conferences. I feel like a new woman. I feel like a new mom. So look out world, here she comes: my girl, my love, my Elle.
Give ‘Em Hell