My nine-year-old son is a lot of things. He’s funny. He has this running gag based on saying tooth instead of truth. Trust me, it’s hilarious. He’s caring. He cries at ASPCA commercial openly. He’s loving. Even though his younger siblings are annoying, he is always the first to rush to them when they cry. He’s creative. He has this whole intricate compound for his GI Joe guys made out of cardboard. He’s so many different things that each day, he blows my mind. Oh, yeah, he also has a big case of ADHD.
His struggles with ADHD have not been easy. It’s taken us a few years to find just the right mix of medication and support to allow him to achieve on both an academic and personal level. In that time, the experiences he’s gone through have taught me a few things. Here’s five of them:
1.Anything worth saying is worth saying multiple times.
When sometimes strikes him as witty, like the tooth joke above, my little dude will repeat it until the end of time And while this is annoying as shit after fifteen minutes of the same thing, if you apply it to real life, it’s pretty useful.
It’s a turbulent time in our country right now. It’s exceptionally important that we speak our truths and we speak them repeatedly until people listen. From the #metoo movement to the marches that have swept across the country, sometimes you need to yell and scream over and over and over again to get it across. Sometimes ideas repeated ad nauseam become mantras that empower others. That in your face fierceness is how history is made. It’s how wrongs are brought to light and justice found for all. So get on that soapbox and repeat your truth like a broken record. Or a hyper 9-year-old. Whichever works.
2. It’s ok to be excited!
As adults, we are expected to leave the giddy excitement that something like surprise ice cream can bring in our youth. Exhaustion and stress are pretty much the pinnacles of the adult emotional scope. But for kids, and especially for those that are sensitive, everything is exciting. Everything is awesome. (And now you’re singing the song, aren’t you?) The other day, little dude about busted a gasket because he got the “Who’s That Pokemon?” question correct. He’s not afraid to show joy. For him, there’s no shame in enjoying the good stuff. As adults, we could use a little bit of that. We put too much value on how hard we push ourselves and not enough in how much we enjoy ourselves. Life is about the little things. We should be able to be excited and enjoy them.
3. Daydreaming is important but dangerous.
Sometimes, I’ll do that creepy mom thing and stare at the boy while he’s deep in thought.I know that those are the times when whatever is going on in his head is more entertaining than whatever could be on a screen. And it makes me so happy. Being able to get your own thoughts, to create things is so damn important. We get so distracted by technology that we disconnect from not only those around us but ourselves too. We’re so used to seeing images and reading things that we don’t turn inward and wander around inside our own heads. A few drops of mindfulness here and there throughout the day would so beneficial.
However, there’s a time and place to daydream. Math class is not one of them. For someone like my son, daydreams often come the wrong time. While its important to stoke the fires of creativity by occasionally wandering off, spacing out will kill whatever momentum you have. As an example: I’ve been staring at the trees dancing in the wind for almost 15 minutes now. This paragraph has taken me twice as long to write as it should have. Stay focused kids. But keep your mind open.
4. There’s no right way to learn.
Teaching the little dude to tie his shoes was one of the most challenging things I’ve done. No matter what technique I used, he just could not get it. We practiced over and over and it just would not stick. For weeks we tried. It has reached a point where it had become “a thing”. You know, those molehills that become mountains so tall your young one no longer wants to climb? Yeah, that. A lifetime of slip-on shoes was in our future. Then one day, I found a Youtube video and before bedtime, the kid could tie his shoes.
There is no right way to learn. No two people are going to have the same abilities or be able to apply them in the same way. This is why it is so important to implement multiple learning styles early on in the classroom. We should be using the strengths of children to help them learn instead of expecting them to bend to decades of tradition. We have to be inclusive of all different learning types.
5. Never Give Up
There are few things as heartbreaking as seeing your child, utterly frustrated, tears rolling down their face, say the words “I’m no good at this. I’m never going to get it right.” There is also nothing as rewarding as seeing that same child, days, months, even years later, exclaiming with joy “I DID IT!”
It’s the time in between that is important. Success is a process, not just a final destination. It’s a struggle. It’s a grind. It’s a fight you can not back down from.It’s what you learn during that struggle that stretches your brain and builds new connections between your neurons. It’s reformatting your brain! It takes time! So, when you want to stop, don’t. No matter what, keep working. It won’t be easy, but it’ll do you good. And it will keep you out of slip-on shoes for your whole life.
And that, as my son would say, is the god given tooth.
Angela Zimmerman is a stay at home mom and aspiring blogger. You can follow her wanderings at Conjure and Coffee (www.conjureandcoffee.wordpress.com)