Sunday, September 30, 2018

THAT kid!

Have you ever taken your kids to the playground only to have THAT kid show up? The one that always makes some other kid cry within five minutes of his arrival? The one that made you cringe when you found out he was in your daughter's first grade class? The one teachers pray he'll stay home... just ONCE!? We have all met THAT kid. Some of us have been THAT kid. Well... I'm his mom!

Some call him spirited, others energetic, active, full of life... he needs to burn energy, yes. It started when he was 6 months old; he let out a shriek unlike anything I had ever heard before. As he got older, he was perceived to be 'aggressive' towards his peers. As an observer, I think he had a hard time with spatial awareness... he was clumsy and impatient so he would push his way through (the playground, a line, etc.).

I was so hurt and embarrassed to hear other parents complain about THAT kid, that I started taking him to the playground when I knew it would be empty or close to it. He would complain and say it was boring, that he had no "friends" to play with. It made me sad, but it was for his own good. I tried to protect him from a world that was seeing him, at 2, 3 and 4 years old, as a threat. Only those parents who had walked in my shoes could share kind words of understanding and hope. No one can ever feel the isolating pain of having a child who doesn't 'fit in' unless they, too, have one. So I avoided many social gatherings and started to stay home a lot. Going to see my husband was always a challenge, full of talks and expectations. Somehow my little guy would rise to the occasion in search of approval; he wanted to please his dad!

Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade and most of 2nd were hard work. There was a lot of communicating with the teachers, becoming very acquainted with the principal, and making many behavioral charts at home. I even had to bring in a Child Therapist into the team of people, the village that was helping me with my son's development. At the end of 2nd grade and after a lot of soul searching (thinking about how his behavior affected every member of our family and especially HIM), I made the decision to try stimulants to help him focus. The difference has been remarkable! I got my son back. He is now in 4th grade and doing well. Of course, once the stimulant wears off, he gets bouncy again, but by then he's home and I manage him.

When he was 4 years old we tried little league baseball. Big fail! He was bored to death and ended up playing with dirt when he was on the field. He would also tackle his teammates (wrong sport!). Then we tried soccer... he has played two seasons, so far, he likes it! When the fidget spinner craze happened, he was an avid spinner... until the 'incident on the bus.' Now we own a dozen spinners and none go to school!! He recently started Afro-Caribbean dance and is slowly warming up to it, as he thinks dancing is whatever Fortnite has taught him, sigh! Finally, he will be trying out for basketball next week. He LOVES basketball, so I am very hopeful to have found a source of energy burning :)

A couple of days ago I spoke with a fellow mother at work. I shared my copy of the book "1, 2, 3, Magic," which also helped me immensely in dealing with my son. I told her that I understood how she felt and that with a lot of work at home and support from school, they would be just fine. It won't happen overnight, but they will.

I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My stepson gives me that hope- see, he used to be THAT kid, too. When he was little, he had to take stimulants, the dreaded medication... for a few years and then, one day, he didn't anymore. He grew up to be a fine young man, served in the Army, is a dancer, artist and most of all, is a caring human being. One that we are happy to have in our lives. If that's what THAT kid becomes... then kudos to the village!

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