Navigating Through The Knowing

-He's a boy.
-Boys are just very active.
-He needs to be disciplined.
-I don't see these things you are talking about.

The kickers:

-You're crazy
-It sounds like you want him to have something wrong with him.
-Why are you saying there is something wrong with him?

The above list would be filed under the category friendly fire. You'll need to know this for later on in the post.

It's the first day of preschool.
You're so proud of your son.
You walk him to his classroom. And the hallway is filled with this, almost, pageanty/competitiony air. Proud momma peacocks and little peacock babies, walking under wing.
As you stand in the hall, waiting for the day to begin, you look ahead to what a wonderful year it will be.
Friends to be made.
Activities to participate in.
The endless painted, glued, glittered, pipe cleanered art projects.
New songs to sing.
You delude yourself for awhile that all will be well.

But then comes the day where you get a negative report at pick-up time.
Then days and weeks meld themselves together into this unstoppable train of bad news.
Negative reports and gut wrenching, hands-in-the-air exasperation.
You leave in tears.
Day after day.
As you walk out the door to head for home, with pitying eyes bearing into the back of your neck and skull, you look down at your boy, the chubby still toddler face, the fat fingers pressed in your hand.
And he looks crestfallen.
His chubby, little hand tenses in yours. It's even sweaty.
His eyes are sad.
He simply is not happy.

See, he wants to be good.
He tries to be good.
He is good.
He just operates a little differently.
And he - at 3 - has no idea how to
handle this
or the fact that his mommy cries for him everyday.
And he sees it.
But if you stopped and read his eyes
and really listened
that is what he would say.
If he could.

He's the most caring, heartfelt boy.
But affectionate, he is not.
He's wickedly funny and smart.
But intensely serious and pensive.
When he laughs, you think he hasn't a care in the world.
But he is full of anxiety and worry. He worries about it all.
You talk to him and think he hasn't heard a word.
But he hears it all. He remembers everything he hears and sees. And he notices the smallest changes.
He lives in the moment and lives with wild abandon.
But he cannot transition from one thing to another easily.
He loves input and action.
But he becomes so overwhelmed by it all.
He loves to build intricate contraptions with Legos.
But he has no attention span.
He is so easy to understand.
And so complicated.

You just want everyone - teachers, his friends, your friends, family members, his daddy, even yourself - to understand this Rubicks Cube of a boy.
And to accept him.
Without shame.
Without guilt.
Without their "friendly fire" opinions.

All you want is for them to put aside their misconceptions, pigheaded opinions, and learn about this fascinating boy, his wide-open mind, his immense heart.

You just want him to sit still at circle time.
Three minutes. That's it. Sit still for three minutes.
Like if he accomplishes that, it makes all the difference
what and what, really?

You just don't want to feel completely alone in the accepting, the grieving, the crying, the rejoicing, the understanding, the being thankful.

You feel that your only friends, at times, are the developmental specialists, the psychologists, the speech language pathologist, the occupational therapist.
Because they corroborate what you already know
and all of the other stuff, the good stuff too.
Yes, he's got a diagnosis.
But he's also got an above-average IQ, his cognitive ability is great, his speech is stellar.
They've got your back.
You can count on them.
You just wish that you had that security from people you
have actual relationships with.
Not strangers.

There comes a point where you feel you are fighting everyone (except for your stranger, specialist friends).
And you're exhausted from it.

All that you want to do is scream at everyone:
All I'm doing is what is best for him. I'm only thinking of him and what will help him!!!

Again, with the looking back.
And the realization that of all things
the diagnosis was the easy part.

16 ripples in the pond:

Joker The Lurcher said...

i so remember all this. in the end i came round to the idea that i would focus on the skills he might use as an adult rather than the ones the teachers wanted him to learn to make him manageable. for example, as an adult would you ever need the skills that playing in a playground would teach you (the ability to cope with people running around randomly screaming and shouting)? only if you were in a nightclub that was on fire.

so that could be sidestepped in favour of working on being able to go for a pee without turning the plumbing off for the whole school at the stopcock because you can't stand the noise of water in the plumbing... (we conquered this with a chart with little urinal stickers!)

i still (at 48) can't sit still for 3 minutes - thank god i don't have circle time...

it gets easier as they get older - hang in there!

thailandchani said...

I agree with what Joker said. There comes a point where manageability somehow takes over what is natural for kids. They are supposed to be active. They are supposed to be full of energy. Just because they don't sit like lumps (in a way that's more comfortable for adults) is not an indication that there's something wrong with them.



jen said...

oh babe. all i can think is how lucky you two are to have each other...to be understood like this. he's a lucky little dude.

liv said...

You do what I did. Write an article for the school newsletter that all differences in children are not able to be seen. That to teach our children compassion for their neighbors it is required that we be compassion. Ditto for tolerance, acceptance, and love. You try for a small school where the teachers understand what's going on and work with your child. It's hard for people without children to understand these dynamics. It's hard for parents of neuro-typical children to get it...that you're not a lousy parent, that your child isn't just an out of control brat. That there is virtually a pane of glass between your child and the world.

~Lacey~ said...

What a cute little boy he is! Hope things get more manageable soon.

Mary-LUE said...

Oh Tabba! I wish I had words of wisdom or comfort. I wish for your son all they things you do, too! He is such a beautiful little guy and well worth the work. Here's hoping there's a ceasing of the friendly fire.

Tabba said...

Thank you all for your comments. Thank goodness this is all in the past. I'm just reflecting on it and getting it out now. What I am describing in this post is from two years ago.
What feels like a lifetime ago.

themikestand said...


I feel no shame when I tell you I'm scared to death of what awaits me with my boys. Scared. To death.

I hope I can go through it all with a clear head and some helpful perspective. Thanks for writing this.

deb said...

What Joker said seems like excellent advice, Liv as well. I still write letters to introduce Katie to people such as new schools, new staff, to let them know not only about her special needs but also about her special talents. I think it helps people to see her as a real human, just like them, not just a diagnosis.

All that being said, he's just lucky to have you for a mum, to fight for him, to love him and to be by his side.

Seattle Mamacita said...

my son's daycare provider has made many comments about the G that have brought me to tears not because she is mean spirited but because they are true and i don't want to hear them..he's always been a sensitive guy, battles transitions, lacks attention the whole lot of it but like you i see that goodness that magical curiousity that fuels him and inspires those around him and i just know we'll work through this...and it feels good to read this right now..

KC said...

Mothers. We know our children inside out. It really is a magical thing. And all the more special when you find one of those special teachers who see them as the full creatures they are. We need to be understood, and we need our children to be understood.

I'm glad this is in the past. But I'm still saddened by the lack of understanding of others, and the pain this caused you.

carrie said...

Although on a different level, I get you. I find it infuriating and frustrating when you - the one who knows him best - are not listened to by those who should be supportive. I am sorry you didn't have more "real life" support during that time, and I can only hope that there is some understanding and acceptance now.

He is so cute! And for the record, I think the boys who run around at circle time are doing EXACTLY what they should be doing -- having fun! But I know what you mean, I do.

Again, another beautiful, perfect post!


Oh, The Joys said...

It sounds hard, friend. I don't know what to say. I don't. I wanted you to know that I read though.

Tabba said...

In regards to the teacher that year:
the teacher I am speaking of....was not positive once. Not once.
She sent home a nasty note. That dripped of nastiness and hostility. I showed it to the director - my BFF. She couldn't believe it when she saw the note.
I talked to the teacher. In a civilized manner. And this is the response I got. A direct quote:

"I couldn't find one nice thing to say about Connor that day. Not one."

Um. Hello? He's THREE.

I said to her, " J. I've been in your shoes. I've taught for a long time. And you can always find something nice. Something. Even if it is simply, 'so and so walked to their cubby all by themselves today!' You always find something nice to say. I'm working with Connor on his behavior. And if there is a discipline or respect issue, I certainly need to know. But all I would like is something positive."

It was horrible. Just horrible. And I feel firmly in my heart of hearts that this person should not be a preschool teacher. To any child. Period.

Aside from all of that....thank you again for your input, insights and your lovely comments. Thank you for letting me let go of this lead balloon.

Aliki2006 said...

Gosh, Tabba--I'm just delurking now and catching up on some of your posts. Your little boy sounds so similar to mine, and the anguish and heartache you've been experiencing is so similar to mine, in many ways. My son (now 7) was recently diagnosed with Asperger's and these past two years have been hellacious as we've struggled to figure out what has been going on with him. And I know the "friendly fire" feeling, too. We get it all the time. From close quarters, too.

I can't offer too much advice, as we're in the throes of all this ourselves. But I have lots of sympathy.

kristi said...

Yes, yes yes! I went thru this at my son's last IEP. It is so frustrating to hear only the negative, you want to hear some good too!