Yesterday, I picked up a friends two children from school. As I was walking past one of the teachers, she looked at my group of three and said,”Good luck with that.” Her meaning unfortunately was not veiled. My son has ADHD and can be an energetic handful. My son’s friend, has different yet similar energy that can make him a challenge. His little brother has difficult moments as all 5-year-olds do.
I felt angry at that teacher. I know her. Generally, I like her. But to have such negative perception of my child for something he does his very best to control, makes me feel protective. And to say something out loud, in front of the children, whether they understood or not, makes me furious. These are three kids worthy of love and respect who are doing their very best job at growing up. It is not easy.
All three children with every ounce of their energy were wonderful that afternoon. They caught frogs, jumped on the trampoline, were polite and funny. I was lucky to spend time with them.
Today when I picked up my second grader, he said, “Toby didn’t invite me to his birthday party because his mom said I have too much energy.” My heart hit the floor. I got down to his eye-level and said, “I don’t ever want you to feel badly for having energy. You have energy that makes people happy. You are a good friend and a very fun kid.”
At that moment, I had some mama-rage. I had unkind thoughts and strong feelings.
Now, I have centered myself a bit and have let those go.
I feel sad.
My darling son, who does have energy and struggles to attend, also stands up to kids who are mean to smaller children. He is enthusiastic, has a grin that lights a room, and is an advocate for a child in his class who does not speak English as her primary language.
I understand the mom who didn’t want my child to come to her sons party. Most moms, if they are honest, will admit some children are easier to have around than others. I admit that. I have had those feelings.
And yet, I want to learn from this situation to never let that be about the child. But about my choices. That mom could have just said it was her choice not to invite my son. Not because of something she deemed as negative about him. I want to express honestly to my child that his friends are all important people regardless of the amount of time we spend with them or if they are invited to his parties or not. I want to be a sensitive parent. To my children and all children who populate our life. I want to be self-aware. I am sure I have hurt children and parents unknowingly. I want to learn to live more intentionally.
The final jab was a volunteer who mentioned she did not enjoy working with the lower reading groups. She was not unkind. She just said it was hard for her. I get that. But it felt painful too. Because my son is in that group. Not because he does not have the intelligence to be in another group but because his lack of attention truly affects his ability to learn. This volunteer did not mean to be unkind. She was being honest about her experience. I only share it because it was hard for ME.
ADHD can bring pain. That has been true this week. It feels like my kids are not seen as they really are because of this disorder that skews their executive function.
I don’t know what to do but show my children they are glorious humans, full of light and grit. To stand up for all children in whatever way I can. To remember to choose my words wisely and pay attention to my audience.
Little beings should not have to bear the ignorance of adults. May we all become more awake to our effect in this world, and may we be determined to be a positive, light-slinging influence.