Too long since I’ve written? Yes, yes…ever so too damn ass long! Over the course of the nearly 9 months (WHAT???) since I’ve last posted, Nathan finished first grade, Joey graduated from preschool, we moved from Maine to Texas, we spent nearly a month in California, both boys started at their new school, and I started back to work full time.
But all of these things are just excuses. When I don’t write in this blog for extended periods of time, it’s usually because I need a psychological break. And things have been, largely, much better with Nathan. He is still behind and slower when it comes to his motor development, sure, but it isn’t stunted completely. He makes progress. He reads slower than his peers, but he reads. His writing is like chicken-scratch, but so is mine. As long as we can teach the kid to type at some point, he should be able to stay up to speed in his later school years as far as that goes, because every high-school kid around here is issued a laptop, and I’m guessing that no matter where we are by the time he’s in high-school, that will be the standard.
Sunday, Monday, Happy Days
He has made friends this year, although the one he’s attached most too concerns us a little. This kid apparently picks things up from home and then brings them into school. I have a whole big thing about “bad words” and how dumb I feel they are – just another man-made concept that makes it harder for teachers to do their jobs. Seriously, take the power away from a bad word and it’s just another string of letters like any other I’ve typed here. Who decided that my kid can say “shoot” all he wants in the same exact context as “shit,” and yet one gets him sent to the principal’s office and the other is just fine? It’s so arbitrary!
That said, I’m not encouraging my kids, nor am I (in front of them) subscribing to a rebellious, cavalier lifestyle of sailor swearing to stick it to the man. Though I have just come back from a “mama time” trip to Maine wherein I may have broken f-word records when no children were with in earshot. Especially freakin’. Just couldn’t get enough of freakin’ for some reason. Anyway…
Nathan and Joey are both pretty good when it comes to controlling their language. But man, some of the things that Nathan tells me about his pal “Potsy…!!” Nothing like hearing your 7-year-old say, “you know what Potsy said at school today? He said, ‘I wanna have sex with my sweatshirt.'”
I turned into the Jewish mom from South Park when I heard that one: “What-what-WHAT????” (And, by-the-by, no, the kid’s name isn’t actually “Potsy”, but I’m changing it to protect the innocent; if by “innocent” you mean a kid that taught my second grader about having sex with a sweatshirt). Anyway, I asked Nathan if he knew what that meant, and he smiled, a little embarrassed, and said, “yeah…like…making out.”
Oh, there’s plenty of innocence left in him, thank goodness.
We have discussed breaking away from this particular friend on many occasions, for a variety of reasons, including that fact that he is simply all that great of a pal to Nathan, but he can’t quite break away because Potsy cracks Nathan up and I think makes him feel cool. He’s hanging with a kinda bad kid. This is a lot different than hanging with another kid last year that got special services at our school in Maine and would cry if Nathan spoke to any other friends. I think Nathan’s starting to get to a place where he doesn’t always feel “normal,” and perhaps Potsy makes him feel a bit more normal.
Meanwhile, the ring of kinda bad/cool kids in Maine ousted Nathan from day one; made fun of his snacks, took his hat on the playground, never invited him to play with them, etc. To be a part of a “normal” crowd here in Texas has meant a lot to him. Unfortunately, it’s the Potsy gang, and so along with this screwed up “normalcy” comes exposure to the concept of fornication with clothing.
ADHD? Just the Label of the Month, or what?
As always, though, Nathan has a way with the grown ups. His teachers and care providers all seem to be genuinely fond of the kid. In fact, when I’ve dropped him off at school a few times, all kinds of people that I’ve never met are fondly saying hi to him by name. His report cards have been excellent – A’s and B’s; E’s and S’s (Excellent and Satisfactory). I’ve never been informed of behavior issues thus far.
However, there is that attention issue that they’ve all been talking about here in the big TX. Ever since we switched over to the new state and the new school, and had all new evaluations to update his IEP (or ARD, as Texas is apparently the only state in our country to call it) the consensus was that Nathan should be tested for ADHD.
Steve and I have had a mixed reaction. On one hand, we’re like: “not another label!” Especially one, just like the autism spectrum, that tends to get overused. I mean, we can now pretty much 100% say that Nathan was misdiagnosed with PDD-NOS. It’s still on his records to get him the services he needs, but every doctor and official at school that’s spent even 2 minutes with the kid agrees that his main issue is a fine/gross motor developmental “mystery delay.” The school psychologist predicted he’s going to be “one of those kids” that just doesn’t fit any one label, and that she’s quite interested to see how he turns out because he does have so many strengths countering the weaknesses.
However, one label they all seem to agree is worth looking into is attention deficit. When I hear ADHD, I picture Mike Meyers on SNL hooked to a jungle gym by a leash, leaping around with his hyperactivity. Then someone gives him chocolate and he suddenly has superhuman strength and drags the entire jungle gym through the streets.
Nathan’s not like that, but the possible hyperactive piece we do see is in his inability to just walk. He takes a few steps and then hops. He jumps more than he walks. We’re in a second floor apartment right now and we’ve been imploring him not to jump, for the sake of the neighbor below us. We were being pretty strict with him about it when we first moved in. There was one day where I saw him jump, and literally, like watching it in slow motion (Wile E. Coyote style) I saw his expression change in mid-air, like, “ohhhh shiiiiit!” I saw first hand, in front of me, that lack of impulse control – his brain catching up with his body only after the action was already started. So help me, I saw it.
We’ve noticed this more in other ways too – pinching and hitting his brother, talking back, engaging in behaviors he knows are not okay. He’s really a good boy. I can tell you with the utmost non-bias (really; truly!) that he’s a good boy feeling frustrated with the way his body and mind aren’t working in the way he wants them to.
Is this ADHD? I don’t know. He’s never been able to just sit and play with toys. There’s only a very select few television shows that will keep his interest for longer than ten minutes. His activities of choice will always be ones that have him moving around from room to room – never sitting in one place. He’s intense and exhausting to spend time with. He would happily talk for hours as one of his favorite pastimes, and he loves talking so much that there’s times when he brings up topics and asks questions that we’ve already been over, just to keep talking. He gets this little smirk on his face when we call him out on it. He knows it’s a repeat. He just wants to keep talking and he’s run out of topics.
In terms of school, every person that evaluated him here in Texas said that he was “easily distracted,” and he would try to talk instead of doing the work at hand. Now, could this be more of a thing where the work is hard for him because of the developmental delay, and so he’s finding a way to avoid it? Or is this a sign of ADHD, wherein when you have a challenge and/or something you’re not interested in, you simply can’t focus?
Don’t Most of Us Have Short Attention Spans?
Then again, as my mother-in-law aptly pointed out, “isn’t that all of us? When I’m not interested in something, I can’t focus on it, either.” Well, sure, that is true, and with all of these conditions, believe me, if you read up on them, you’d be like Steve and I and start going, “hey…I’ve got at least a slight case (as if it were a cold) of autism and a little ADHD! I must!”
I mean, for goodness sake, you should see me try to clean the house! I LOVE a clean house. I really, truly do. I’m also completely physically capable of cleaning a house, and I wouldn’t even say I “hate” doing it, as I think many people truly do. The problem, for me, is it’s a never-ending story (with no weird flying dog or 80’s movie soundtrack anthem). It NEVER gets completely clean and uncluttered, or stays that way for longer than an hour, and it takes three times as long as it would anyone “normal.” Why?
Because I can’t just go, “okay, bedroom one:” and dig in until it’s finished and then move on to bedroom two, and finish that, and then the living room, kitchen, etc. I’m telling you, I can’t. This isn’t an excuse. This isn’t me wanting to be a little quirky and playing it up. When I clean my house, I start in on bedroom one, and I get maybe half way through the enormous pile of laundry that needs to be put away, and then, like that dog in “Up,” I see a squirrel, and I go chasing it to the next room.
Laundry’s not finished, but now I’m in the kitchen because one of the dishtowels (squirrel!) was in the laundry and once I’m in the kitchen putting that away, I start in on the dishes. I’m doing those, and then (squirrel!) I should go back and finish that laundry before I dig into the kitchen, right? Then my phone rings and I really should talk to my mom because I’ve been neglecting calling her because I have no attention span and life just always seems so busy and crazy, who has time for phone calls?
I put away a few more things while I finish the convo with my folks, slowing myself down because I’m holding the phone, and then (squirrel!) there’s an item of kids clothing in that load of Steve and I’s clothes that I’m now 3/4 of the way through putting away, although half of it needs to be rewashed or ironed, dammit, because we left it in the laundry basket too long and it’s all wrinkly. Well, great, more work! I take that one item of boy clothes all the way across the apartment to the kid’s room and hang it up.
Then I look around and see the state of their room. Holy freakin’ shit! Let me just get some of these toys picked up so there’s a pathway to walk, at least. I don’t wanna have to interrupt my cleaning by having to go to the ER with a broken ankle because Stinky the Garbage Truck tripped me.
I start in on the toys, but I can’t just put them in the bins randomly and get the room picked up expediently. I want to try and organize the bins into Star Wars toys, Legos, Playmobils, and miscellaneous so maybe the boys will be more likely to actually play with these great toys. Next thing you know I’ve dumped out every bin and there’s more mess than ever, but trust me, there’s a method to this madness because I am organizing! But, uh oh, (squirrel!) these kids don’t need all of these toys that they hardly ever play with!
Let me run to the kitchen and get a couple garbage bags – one for trashing and one for donating. While I’m in the kitchen, well, heck, the dishes are half-way done from earlier. Let me just finish those before I get back to the boys room, and check that off the list, since I’m gonna have to start making dinner soon, so I’ll need room in the sink for MORE dishes. But I still never finished the pile of laundry in our room. Aaahhhhhhhh!
Is that ADHD? Or just batshit crazy? Or just who I am, and freakin’ deal with it, Jen?
I have lots of incomplete projects. I have a really hard time doing things like thank you notes and Christmas cards. I’m not an organized person. But I can hold down and even excel at a job where my thoughts come out of my head and get typed onto a page in an organized fashion, in an articulate and grammatically correct way that’s not easy for everyone.
Are we just all different mind types with different strengths and weaknesses? Are we focusing on the wrong stuff – trying to find a “diagnosis” for this kid instead of celebrating his ever-so-many wonderful qualities? I wish I could just be hippy mom and hug him and love him the way he is, but when a team of people tell you they see an issue, and you think there could possibly be a way to make life a little easier for him, how can you not pursue it?
In part two of this blog, I shall go over the challenges of getting an ADHD evaluation in the state of Texas, and meeting possibly the coolest psychologist that has ever existed….coming soon, if I don’t see too many squirrels.