If you’ve been here for awhile, you already know this story. But if you’re new here, this is a throwback to a few years ago when we learned my youngest child has Attention Deficit Disorder. He sees all of the squirrels and forgets all of the tasks and wandered around in La-la Land for the entire year of Kindergarten and most of first grade. After the initial grading period, Mr. Tip and I came in for a teacher conference and it was The Talk I’d been dreading since I enrolled my child in Kindergarten.
They were going to tell me he was fucked up. He couldn’t do the work. He was falling behind. They were going to try to convince me to medicate him…muddle his brain, change him to fit society’s definition of normal. I cried a lot. I held Mr. Tip’s hand tightly and shook and contemplated vomiting on the tiny desk I was perched on. For his part, my husband was like “Oh yeah, well, what were we talking about again?” because he ALSO has ADD and because well, SQUIRRELS.
We made the littlest Tiplet an appointment with a pediatrician and he quickly boasted an official, bonafide ADD diagnosis, so we had to decide how to proceed. We removed red dye from his diet, as well as most sugars and some other blah blah bullshit that supposedly exacerbates symptoms. I blamed myself, I blamed my husband, I blamed my older children for being normal and leaving my sweet baby behind.
He still struggled.
Homework that should have taken him ten minutes to complete took fucking HOURS. It was like his brain was just TOO DAMN BUSY to get the shit done so he could go play, tweak, chase squirrels. I dreaded him coming home at all because I was bracing for a fight. And I typically got my wish.
Finally we agreed to try him on a low dose of something and I almost shit my pants over the difference I noticed immediately in my son. Not only was he focused, but he was SMART. He wanted to learn about ALL of the things. He could give me answers and skip over pages of explanations and move on to things that interested him like Earthquakes and Storms and Treefrogs and Squirrels. Math and Science came easy to him. Reading did not (which tears at my very soul because that’s something that I can help him with) but each night he would muddle through a book.
When you are blessed with a child that experiences the world differently than you do, you’re forced to take a good, hard look at yourself. You wonder how to teach them what really matters. You never expect them to actually teach YOU what you’ve been missing your entire life.
Tonight my younger boy crawled up in the bed with me and said “Mom. I’m going to read you a story, okay?”
It was not okay.
It was past his bedtime and when HE wants to read then I end up correcting his words and I worry he’ll never get it and I worry he won’t care and I end up giving all the fucks anyway and crying because he can’t do it right. I had other shit to do. I did NOT have time to feel like a parental failure while my baby read me a book.
“Dude,” I groaned. “I don’t much feel like reading tonight. Can we save it for tomorrow?”
He sighed. “What if you don’t have to read and I read it TO YOU?”
Yeah, I was afraid of that. “Sure. Read it, Bud.”
So he opens the book and starts reading about a little boy who goes to his Grandmother’s house and doesn’t have any of his overnight things and Granny has to make him a bed and a pillow and a fucking teddy bear…it’s one of my favorites.
He didn’t miss a word. I have NEVER loved that story as much as I loved it this time, with my son reading it, placing emphasis where it belonged, assigning voices and mannerisms to the characters, delighting when I genuinely giggled at his performance.
About halfway through the story, I started crying like a fucking asshole.
“MOMMY, WHAT’S WRONG??? This is a HAPPY story! Why are you sad?”
“I’m NOT sad,” I wailed, wiping my nose on his sleeve. “I’m just HAPPY that you are the BEST reader EVER.”
“Well,” he shrugged. “It’s probably because I got the best mom to teach me how to read it right!”
Holding my kid close to me, looking at this book together, I understood I was experiencing a tiny miracle. I always knew he WOULD eventually read, but I figured he would HATE it. And yet, there we were enjoying this story he selected because he knew I liked it.
He read EVERY WORD.
I realize I am blessed. I can’t count the blessings they are so plentiful. I’m glad I took the time. To listen. To let my baby show me what he’s been working on.
He’s leaving me you know…gaining his independence, becoming his own person, growing up. But he still wants to share his triumphs. When the story was over, I said, “Man, they never DID get to go to bed at all the WHOLE NIGHT! I bet they’re hungry for breakfast, don’t you?”
He agreed that perhaps a breakfast would be a suitable next chapter in the story. “Want me to make you some butter biscuits with cinnamon? We can eat them in my bed and watch TV and pretend it’s Breakfast Time!!”
“No, we are NOT ALLOWED to eat cinnamon in your bed because is messes up the blankets with CRUMBS!”
“Yeah, but my Personal Assistant is coming tomorrow to clean up for us. Let’s give them something good to clean. You get the butter, I’ll make the cinnamon.”
And we waited for those bitches to finish baking, slathered them with sweet, messy deliciousness, then snuggled under the covers and watched COPS on tv.
I will never ever forget. Please tell your crotchfruit how much they mean to you…how they enhance your life…and how fucking bored you’d be without them in it.