Looking for Attention in All the Wrong Places
Take one smart boy and add several undefinable learning issues. Fold in testosterone and a flare for entertaining. Add a smidge of defiance. Place him in a high school and don’t focus on his strengths. Mix until perfectly blended.
Now, buckle your seat belt, Sweetheart, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
I (this is Martha) have saved every disciplinary notice, every mid-marking period notice and every crappy report card (and when I say crappy, I don’t mean B – C crappy……I mean F crappy) because even though these notices are “dicey,” they are connected to my son, whom I adore.
This is what I felt like every time I entered the school for one of my many, many, many meetings……
….. countless sessions in which I was informed of my son’s “outrageous” behavior with sweat trickling down my back, cotton mouth and heart pounding. My son was every kid’s dream and every teacher’s nightmare…….and I could tell exactly what they thought: I was a “sh**ty” mom.
I have been greeted with surprised gasps upon introducing myself as “Jimmy’s” mother, and even the local convenience store owner had a few….uh….”rich” comments regarding my son’s notoriety. (The store owner was very sympathetic, actually!)
I have a pile of notices in front of me. It is only the tip of the iceberg, but, here are a few of the more … ummmmmm … “entertaining” ones.
“Openly insulted me in front of the class, calling me stupid.”
“Pulled Mike’s pants down during class.”
“Would not stay in seat after repeated warnings. Also continued asking senseless questions over and over.” (If memory serves me correctly, he was permanently thrown out of that class.)
“Disruptive in class!” (That was a repeated very popular one)
“Googled inappropriate images. 3 warnings.”
My son was told by the guidance counselor he would never go to college…….
The day he got INTO college, I wrote this:
“At the risk of sounding corny, I have learned that if you keep at it and keep at it, even if it takes years and years and it feels like you are bailing water out of a sinking ship and no one has faith in what you have set out to do…….if you stay strong and keep pushing, you can achieve what feels like a miracle.”
Now, take one smart boy with undefinable learning issues. Believe that his possibilities are endless. Focus on his strengths. Help him to use his powers for good. Say “yes” when others say “no.” Simmer for years.
. . . and that’s where we are today, more or less. Thanks for that. I truly needed it.
Hi other Martha! Thanks so much for reaching out! We would love to hear about your experience….we’ve been there…done that!
I am planning to fill out your online story-telling form. If I can just boil it down to fewer than ten million characters, lol. I may even have some unique things to share. How about throwing puberty (in a boy) at age five into the mix? Testosterone surges are most definitely not welcome in kindergarten! More later . . . . – “Other Martha”
Hi “Other Martha” … I keep thinking about the testosterone/kindergarten combination you mentioned in your comment. I can’t even imagine how stressful that must be, not just for you, and for your son’s teacher … but it must feel so overwhelming for your son, too. Hormones are hard enough at the age they’re supposed to hit! I think Martha is right; there must be other parents dealing with this …Have you been able to connect with them? What is helpful for him, and what is helpful for you?
You’re so kind to follow up! Actually, that “situation” was a long time ago – – just an example from our adventures — that wasn’t the first problem by any stretch. It was pretty bad, and we were utterly alone, and no one at the school listened to anything I had to say. I think they all had decided that I was coddling The Boy by that point. Many “adventures” in medicine and education followed that one — we finally got a partial answer for some of his educational issues when he was almost 17. We were seeing a third orthopedist about “Why can’t he straighten his right leg and get that heel to touch the floor?” and the doctor instantly recognized that he was looking at fallout from a prenatal stroke. Imagine that! I WAS partly my fault, lol. So, since we had plenty of head films from the earlier precocious puberty incident (they first thought that the puberty might have been caused by a brain tumor — but not, fortunately), we were able to confirm the stroke. Answers are always good (he’s classified as NLD), but understanding, compassion, and accommodation covers every situation — when you can get it! Now he’s 19, a great kid, and home after a year at college to brush up on some basic skills, get some study skills, grow up a little more, and then figure out where to go next. Thanks for asking! PS I’m in Summit NJ. O.M.
I LOVE your comment – “Answers are always good, but understanding, compassion and accommodation covers every situation ….”. Can I quote you on that in a future post? And ahhhhh yes, the old “You’re just coddling him” line! I wonder where I’ve heard that one before …. oh, right. Everywhere. ….. So glad your son is doing well at 19; he is clearly VERY lucky to have you as a mom! (He certainly found the right place to get that understanding, compassion and accommodation.) What would you say have been some of the benefits of his “issues”? For my son, his extreme hypersensitivities and struggles as a kid are, I know, a key reason why he is such a compassionate and caring young man now. And in my post the other day (“You’re Just Not Trying Hard Enough”), I wrote about how many writers are dyslexic, and that being dyslexic and looking at words differently can make you so much more creative. This is one of the things we want to do with this blog (and the book we’re working on) – to bring up this aspect of “issues” as well (the “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature” part). So we’d love to know what you think on this … sounds like we should find a time to interview you in person, if you’d be interested!
Other Martha I am crazy about you
Sent via the Samsung GALAXY S™4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone
Hey Other Martha! Testosterone in kindergarten! I bet you any amount of money you are not alone! Can’t wait to hear your story…..sounds very interesting. If you want to email us you can at…..marthaandruth at gmail dot com
Have a wonderful day 🙂