Ok, so I am the Momma, but seriously….how did this happen? I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so how the hell am I supposed to guide another human being? Am I doing this right or screwing up my kids for all eternity? I could ask my mother, but then I’d have to hear her tell me exactly how I am messing them up for all eternity, so cross that resource off the list. This parenting thing is a lot harder than it looks.
My oldest is a Junior in high school and was recently diagnosed with adult ADD and depression. Many people ask why he didn’t get diagnosed until now The truth is that he was so smart that he could mask it. When I look back at his childhood, there were probably signs, but they weren’t neon glowy signs screaming “GET YOUR KID HELP!” Instead, the signs were more subtle; like a soft warm glow. For example, I’d receive a call from his teacher around March saying that he has spring fever and could I please ask him to settle down in class? I would talk to him, and he would correct the problem. He never missed homework, always completed reading projects and was a very well-mannered kid.
Around his Sophomore year that all changed. He couldn’t keep up with his work and at times was missing up to 20 assignments in certain classes. When I would ask him why he wasn’t doing his work, he would mumble “I don’t know.” UGH. So frustrating. I had reached out to all of his teachers and begged for them to allow late work. After getting approval, my son and I sat together, and I would watch him while he completed all of the missing assignments. It was exhausting. The next day, he would forget to turn them in. I really believed that he was not turning work in to be spiteful. We fought like crazy and it was ruining our family dynamic. My youngest was starting to be affected by all of the fighting and we needed to find another way.
I had him tested for learning disabilities and he did not have any. His IQ tested between 125-130, so we knew he was more than capable. Throughout the testing process, I also had him working with a therapist to help him with his depression and anxiety issues. Once that was corrected, and homework was still not being turned in, we were able to come across the ADD diagnosis. He was put a daily medication and was literally better the first day. (sorry haters, I know you all think our kids are overmedicated, but keep that opinion to yourself….this kid needs it!) He said the world felt clear for the first time. The guilt I had for not realizing sooner crushed me. His grades improved, the fighting stopped and life went back to normal (as normal as it gets).
This year, I decided not to monitor him as much and see how he does on his own. I hoped that he would appreciate the freedom and would keep working hard on his assignments. It’s also a way to stop the fighting. Here’s the big problem; if I don’t monitor him constantly, he starts to slip up again, and now I’ve put myself in the position where I allowed it to happen. I don’t want to have to moniter a 16 year old constantly, but I also don’t want to see him flounder. He seems too old for any real punishment and I was raised with the theory if a kid fails, “oh well, that’s thier own fault”. The thing is, I don’t really subscribe to that theory. I’m his mom and I feel that I am letting him down if I am not there helping and pushing every step of the way. I always wondered why I wasn’t being pushed harder, and I don’t want my kid to wonder someday why I didn’t push hard for his success.
For the record, I am not a helicopter parent. I don’t think all kids should receive participation medals and I believe that they should learn how to properly lose. I also don’t believe that this is the same thing as allowing them to fail. As a teenager, my mom would always remind me that if I failed it was on my shoulders. I was even told time and time again, that they didn’t think that I would get through school. That message is dangerous and can become a self-fulfulling prophecy. At times, I didn’t feel worthy of success, so I pretended not to care and she believed me. Of course, internally I did care and felt horrible most of the time. I can’t do that to my kid. He needs to know that he isn’t allowed to fail on my watch and that I will fight to help him succeed. So, now I have to backpeddle from granting my son some freedom and get back to the constant monitoring/nagging, and sadly, fighting…..sigh.
I was about to write that I hope we look back at his school days with some good memories and laugh about it, but that’s bullshit. I know we won’t. What I really hope, is that we make it through this last year of high school alive and without damaging each other’s pysche for good. In the meantime, I will fight for him and with him to get through this. He will know that I believe in him and will not allow failure. If nothing else, it will give him years of good stories for his future therapy appointments….