“Yes, baby,” I said, “you can wear your sparkly shoes.”
Yesterday I got some clarity as to WHY my girl struggles so mightily…at 6 she made the moderate scale of ADHD. Young to be diagnosed but thanks to an amazing and thoughtful teacher we caught the issue early and can respond accordingly. As I learned several years ago…clarity sucks….you need it…but it sucks.
As with any assessment we got her strengths and her weaknesses.My girl excels at quickly assessing situations. I knew this. She’s quick in the draw and quick witted. She struggles with short term memory and comprehension and giving back facts. I knew this too. I thought it was laziness that prevented her from telling me about the book we just read or being able to tell me about ten details of her day. Not so. She also struggles with math and social skills….and on and on. I knew this too but hearing it hurt.
Now begins the challenge of learning how to help her. Again, luckily we were blessed with a teacher who spotted the queues and responded accordingly without waiting for a diagnosis. My little bug gets her math sheets handed to her folded in 4ths so she only sees one or two problems at a time. Her brain shuts down if she sees more. She gets to sit next to the teacher during writing time so there is constant attention. Her desk is full of ‘worms’ to remind her to add 5 details to her story and game pieces so she can physically move across a timeline when adding or subtracting. Our kindergarten teacher implemented all these things upon meeting my little gal. What am I going to do if our next teacher isn’t as kind, as patient, as intuitive and as amazing as this years? We made it thru kindergarten but barely.
It’s a diagnosis, not a death sentence…I know….but It broke my heart because I know that my girl will forever learn, hear, sense, process and maintain information differently than her peers. Her school journey will always be uphill. She will struggle more than not and will have to scratch and kick and claw to stay in line with the others she learns with. Add social awkwardness, shyness and a temper to the mix and the struggles become harder. Add in that she is a big and a nervous water and the struggles mount. Insurmountable odds? Certainly not. Different than millions of other children out there? No.
It’s not just her…the family she’s a part of has to re-do and re-think the way things are done. I can’t say “clean your room”. Her brain doesn’t process that those words mean, make your bed, put away your clothes, pick up your toys, stack your books, etc. She hears “WAHWAHWAHWAH!” On days when she’s had a lot of that her little brain just stops, shuts down and she becomes BRAT child. Now I know that it’s not always because she’s rotten. Sometimes it’s because her little brain just can’t process anything else right then. Or it may be because she’s frustrated. Or maybe she knows she should be able to read that sentence or complete that match problem. Or maybe she knows she’s disappointed me or a teacher and it upsets her. Or it could be because she’s rotten.
She needs schedules and things spelled out for her. This at a time in my life where I find that everything is done on the fly and that little goes as planned.
She needs patience and for things to be slowed down and spelled at. This at a time in my life when I seem low on patience and barely know what needs to be done much less able to spell things out.
She needs tutoring and counseling and all the things that take time and money…this at a time in my life when both always to be in short supply. I’ll find some of both to her her what she needs.
Yesterday I had to accept that fact that I see a simple picture. My daughter sees a kaleidoscope of colors that, if she tries very, very hard and concentrates might sometimes, occasionally, but not always, show her part of the picture I see. We will never comprehend exactly the same way. I’ll never know how her voice in her heads sounds to her. I have to learn a new language, a new style of communicating with her. I wonder if I am up to the challenge.
So, yes, she got to wear her sparkly, high heels today. Why? Because she loves them. Because they make her happy and give her confidence. And I think she’s going to need more of that in her life when I pack her off to school and camp. To me they are tacky, uncomfortable and impractical. But we’ve established that our brains don’t operate the same way. I am going to have to find more sparkly shoes and more ways of giving her the courage to be who she is, the strength to tackle her challenges and the wherewithal to pick herself back up when she gets knocked down. And if a silver set of sparkly hi-heeled shoes gives her even a piece of that then so be it.