Home > ADHD & Gifted, Family Life, raising boys, School, Wild Child > I walked ten miles to school, uphill, BOTH ways…

I walked ten miles to school, uphill, BOTH ways…

Boy, when I sit down and list this out, it sounds so… bad.  I attributed some of Wild Child’s behavior issues last year to some stress/’instability’ in our family, but felt those were almost secondary issues because he was not having any major behavioral problems at home or church, and that the primary issue was that Wild Child was in a classroom that I did not feel was challenging him, where he was not exactly encouraged to do his personal best, settling instead for ‘good enough’ or ‘about as good’ as everyone else, and with a teacher who, while a very nice person, was clearly out of her league in dealing with a gifted student. It seemed like I was on the right track with that when his behavior improved dramatically with his involvement in the play (something that interested and challenged him).  Well, obviously his classroom situation is entirely different now, so his continued behavior problems are causing me to re-examine where the root problems may lie or maybe that was the problem last year but it’s changed.  I am realizing that I have, particularly over the last year, slipped into a negative parenting cycle (the drill sergeant, where I constantly reprimand, scold, etc) that is really not conducive to Wild Child’s personality and learning style.  Since Thursday I have been consciously working on not using negative discipline methods… I also have a book on order that I’ve heard is fantastic for dealing with children who tend to be intense. 

I think I have also made a big, big mistake… comparing his childhood to mine, and when I look at Wild Child I think he has it pretty good… he’s clean, he’s loved, well fed, well clothed, and has plenty of ‘extras’ too.  I realized last week that may have been grossly unfair… Wild Child only knows his reality, and when not comparing it to my childhood, I realize that there are several aspects of it that really suck, for lack of a better word, and that some changes that I thought he was embracing and handling fine, maybe are bothering him on a deeper level.  I gave him the option of switching to MLK, and he was all for the idea, but this also makes his third school in three years. 

And the background: Wild Child’s dad moved to the east coast just under four years ago (a week after my daughter was born) and has developed what I can only describe as ‘uncle daddy syndrome’.  He loves Wild Child, but he is just much better suited to be someone’s uncle, than someone’s father. In Dec 01 we lost my grandfather, who Wild Child was very close to, to diabetes induced renal failure where he was removed from life support after several months in the hospital.  In June 02, we moved across town and Wild Child was understandably upset about leaving his friends, but seemed to adjust pretty quickly to our new neighborhood where there are actually more playmates.  In July 02, my grandmother moved in, which turned out to be a disaster.  Also in that month, Ro (my partner) had his 5th surgery since ’99, and it entailed a much longer and more painful recovery than anticipated, as well as a great deal of insomnia and a bout with depression.  In April my grandmother moved to live with my mother, and this June it became clear that my mother remains as unstable as ever, and I’ve had to explain to Wild Child we won’t be able to see her anymore (though I have always kept her at arm’s length).   Just before school started, I was faced with a conversation with Wild Child where I could no longer gloss over his dad’s unreliability. Wild Child is becoming painfully aware of his dad’s shortcomings. When I discuss these things with Wild Child, you can imagine we have a very mature conversation and I come away feeling like he understands and is fine… but maybe it’s causing some distress that he may not even fully recognize… he rarely brings these things up and when he does, he seems very matter of fact or if he’s upset, after a talk with me, is quickly back to his old self.

And our family also has some unique aspects that have the potential to become stressors. The obvious one is that we are multi racial, which fortunately thus far doesn’t seem to be a problem.  We are an interfaith family, and it has raised some issues… Wild Child’s dad is Christian, Ro is Muslim (African, not Nation of Islam), and I am a Unitarian Universalist.  The kids attend UU with me as I am the only one who actively practices faith.  My path is very strongly earth centered, so our blessings center around natural phenomenon.  Wild Child holds a strong affinity for Buddha (mostly I think because my grandfather loved Eastern art and had so many replicas you’d think he was Buddhist instead of Catholic).  Last year, a couple kids asked Wild Child at lunch if he believed in God.  He said no, because he wasn’t sure which god they meant, and they told him he was going to Hell.  About a year before that, he told his cousins he didn’t know why they prayed to Jesus, because he wasn’t real (have NO idea where that came from… I regard Christ as prophet/healer vs. savior, but I do believe he existed and highly respect his work).  Saturday night, he found something he was looking for and made a comment and when I asked him to repeat himself because I thought I must have heard him wrong… he said, ‘I asked God to help me, and she did.’  Wild Child’s best friend and family are also Wiccan, so around Halloween Wild Child may be inclined to try and educate someone on the difference between a ‘real’ witch, and a ‘Hollywood’ witch.  Obviously, in a strongly Abrahamic society, these kinds of comments turn heads.  Normally I would have called or come in for a conference early October about the faith issues, but as long as I’m airing my dirty laundry, I may as well put it on the table now.

And if all this isn’t bad enough… I have more.  Wild Child doesn’t know about this yet, because Fossil Boy (his best friend) wants to tell Wild Child but hasn’t yet.  Fossil Boy, who is two months younger than Wild Child, was diagnosed in May with cystic fibrosis.  Most children are diagnosed and started on treatment at a much younger age, so Fossil Boy has already suffered considerable lung damage.  He is fine now, but it is a given that he will eventually be spending a great deal of time in and out of the hospital.  Because of this late diagnosis, it is unlikely that he will live into his late 20’s/early 30’s as many CF patients do now.  While treatment has pretty much stabilized his lungs, they are only operating at 75% or so, and I think most kids his age have percentages in the 90’s.  We’ll be seeing the Lambert’s again in about three weeks for a quiet day and Steph is going to remind Fossil Boy about this… he may be having surgery in October and it would be good for Wild Child to know what’s going on before Fossil Boy’s hospital rounds start.

I *knew* the hazards of assuming that a child’s emotional maturity was above their intellectual maturity, but I seem to have made the mistake of assuming Wild Child was handling all these ups and downs anyway.

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