So here it is, my very first share on The Ugly Duckling Chat! I was having such a hard time figuring out what to share with you guys because there is just so much I’d love to talk about. But, I decided to write about something I struggled with last year that maybe a lot of you may not have known about...
A year and half ago, Lucas’ teacher at the time asked if I could have a moment with her when I picked up Lucas that day. I was extremely nervous, only because I was already seeing signs that Lucas might be a little behind compared to his peers. I didn't think much of it because he was so young and I just thought he'd catch on in no time. But sure enough, she later explained he was having “behavior issues,” lack of focus, undergoing hyperactivity, he was always behind in class and things were just not clicking to him. My heart sank to the floor.
As a parent, you would never want your child to feel any type of heart ache, disappointment or pain. So you could imagine the sadness I was bearing.
She asked me a series of questions, mostly regarding the way he acts and issues at home. There was a lot going on at the time, I was a single mom, I had lost my job that I have had for over 10 years and I had gotten into a car accident that totaled my car and left me carless. My life was all over the place. I was so confused, as a young mom, I had no idea that everything interlocked together, and all of it could have been affecting him at school. I felt like the worst mom ever.
I blamed myself for everything...
I should’ve spent more time with him on his homework
I should've read more to him
I should've feed him more nutritious foods
I should've gotten him in school earlier
I should've had this, I should've had that, I even blamed myself for separating from his dad, could that have prevented this from happening?? Was this genetics? Could I have been a bad influence in any way?
It was a really tough pill for me to swallow...
His teacher recommended that I get him evaluated for ADHD, possibly ADD and to seek help with a behavior specialist. (Mind you, they will never say the term ADHD or ADD, but her hints were not subtle.)
The entire year we had several appointments and meetings with his school, teachers, counselors, physiologists, doctors, a speech therapist and special needs services, it was draining... Not for me, but for him. When a kid is five, you expect him to ride his bike all day, come home muddy and scrapped up from climbing trees and then have him bug you about playing video games before dinner. But instead, we were constantly overloaded. If me feeling like a crappy mom wasn't enough, Lucas wasn’t even living his best life.
March 2020, Covid19 arises. His testings are put on hold. Ugh! After a year of trying to figure out how to help my son, the school system goes on hiatus. At this point, (and currently now) all I knew was that Lucas, and these are the exact words “Has a possible minor case of ADHD, and possible learning disability, to be determined with further testing”
What the fuck! - excuse my language. But seriously, I felt fucked. I had no infinitive diagnosis or IEP to even start the process of getting my son any type of help. And then, we were forced to start online learning, as if my child didn’t have a hard enough time in school already, things were really taking a toll on us.
At this point, I had just had about enough. In my heart, I knew Lucas was a smart kid. He is kind, thoughtful, sweet, he loves to read and do math. He loves art. He loves to cheer his friends on, and ask how everyone’s day was going. The best thing I love about him, he never gives up.
I refused to let people who thought they knew everything, dictate the way my son lived and try to slap labels on him. Not my son. We took matters into our own hands.
I would stay up late nights researching ADHD and ADD, all the pros and cons, how people lived everyday life and how I, as a parent can help my child thrive. I researched different ways to home school him, creative learning, finding different techniques to help facts click in his head. I reached out to all of my friends in the education system for advice. Anything and everything I could to support him in his time of need. If my son refused to give up, neither would I.
There were days when he would hate me for repeating the same things over and over to him and there were days when I just wanted to yell off the top of my lungs because I was so frustrated, there were times when I even wanted to throw an IPad in front of him just to relieve some stress (BTW, one thing that helped us was him doing a 90 day challenge of no technology, hit me up if you want details!) But we, as a team, never gave up on each other.
I started to understand more that him having ADHD didn’t mean he had a disability, it just means he retains learning in a different way. In some ways, I found him absolutely gifted in certain subjects like art and music, oh my goodness he's so creative! I realized he just needs patience and positive reinforcement.
Fast forward to the present, Lucas has recently received Student of the Month for Excellence. I remember when his principal announced his name over the 1st grade Zoom assembly, both Lucas and I jumped out of our seats with excitement. Of course I cried, lol. We just worked so damn hard to get where we are at today. So many obstacles and setbacks, so many hurtful characterizations, and so many discouraging hurdles. This moment was everything to us. We have learned so much about each other over the past year, I have never felt more connected to him honestly and I have never been more proud. He is literally the reason why I do anything in life.
A friend of mine told me, as parents, we need to be advocates for our children. No one is going to fight for our kids harder than us. No one is going to push our little ones harder than us. And, no one is going to love our children harder than us. Even when you feel like the world is against you, don’t give up. Don’t give up on your children because I promise you, they will not give up on you.
I am not the perfect parent! I still struggle every damn day. Sometimes I have good days, sometimes I have bad ones. I still mess up, and I am still learning constantly. But there is one thing I know, I am never going to stop being an advocate for my son, and I will NEVER, ever stop fighting for him. Whether Lucas has ADHD or not, we’re going to get through everything together.
- Shiela Tang