I think my youngest has ADHD. Not in a “wow she’s so hyper, something must be wrong with her!” way. But in a real “I’ve researched this disorder and you have all the markers” way. Her doctor was hesitant to diagnose her before four, but now that we’re here… The evidence is currently running back and forth through the upstairs hallway and singing the same three bars of a Frozen song.
This kid has the biggest heart you can imagine. She’s relentlessly, in-your-face loving, deeply empathetic and can read emotions better than anyone, very sensitive and doesn’t feel anything halfway. And the poor thing cannot focus.
She cries all through her school work because she “can’t do it.” Which is partially untrue. She CAN do it and when she does, she’s so smart. When she CAN do it, she has the neatest four year old handwriting ever. When she CAN do it, she can sound words out and identify the letters she knows in big words. When she CAN do it, she’ll offer you a full analysis of the story you’ve told her. But she’s right… Some days, she can’t.
When she can’t, she doesn’t write her letters anywhere near the line. They don’t look like letters. No matter how many times she talks herself through how to draw them, something completely wrong and sloppy crawls across the page and she cries in frustration. When she can’t, she looks at the word on the page…. and the word on the other page…. and something else on that line and now she’s sounding out “me” as “seat” because she was trying to look at two things at once. When she can’t, she can repeat maybe one facet of a story back and the rest is something she’s made up in her head.
It’s hard not to compare her to her sister. I know, I KNOW, they’re on two different levels of kindergarten. They’re eight months apart! And for all the emotional healing my oldest is going through and all the coping mechanisms I have to work through with her, she doesn’t have learning disabilities. She was speech delayed, but her verbal skills are suburb now. When she’s not being stubborn about being taught, she learns like a dream. It may take her a second to grasp a concept, but she does it.
Not so with the youngest. Something she could do brilliantly on Monday is now a struggle on Wednesday. Last Friday’s “I can’t” suddenly becomes something she can do with ease. Consistency is key in parenting and teaching, but how do you keep consistent when her brain is moving too fast through rabbit trails that I can’t keep up with?
Her lack of self control frustrates me so much some days. I fight to get her to sit still or to stop crying so that she can actually try to focus. People tell me how sweet it is that she and her sister sit through sermons at church, they don’t see how grey my hair is turning from trying to teach that skill during the week.
I keep having to remind myself that the only reason I have any self control is because of the Holy Spirit. There are times when she literally can not control her impulses. But during those times, I can always control my response. I keep redirecting, reteaching, endlessly and exhaustively digging down and being there for her in her frustrations.
No amount of coffee in the world will ever give me enough energy to keep up with her. But I’m glad she’s so sweet. Because when teaching her wears me out, she’s the first one to rush up to me with a big hug and those rosy lips turned up for a kiss. When I look worried for a moment, she’s the one who immediately rubs my arm and tells me she loves me. And I love her too. For all her wildness, for all that impulsiveness, I know there’s a little heart in there that 100% loves others and loves Jesus. I just need to find a way to tap into it and teach her what she needs to know.