Sometimes I want to scream. Sometimes it is at my son and others it is to the world, “You really are a good kid! He really is a good kid! Just look. Quit focusing on the negatives, the shortcomings, and see him. Really see him.” Sometimes I need to shout it to myself.

He talks out in class all the time. He will push you to your limits. He asks questions and threatens your authority. Once he feels he has nothing to lose, once you take away whatever it was that you thought would motivate him, there is no coming back. He doesn’t care to lose anything else at that point.

He is in for a penny, in for a pound. His sense of fairness is strong, when it applies to others. He focuses on what is unfair to him and won’t let it go. He doesn’t notice the accommodations, the warnings, and the times he was ignored instead of punished. He walks around the class. He just gets up. He moves around. If you ask him to accomplish a task, any task, and he doesn’t understand the why, if he sees your response as immaterial, he will argue and won’t back down. I am sure later in life, if he harnesses it properly, this will help him succeed in life and a career, but for now it is disrespectful.

He forgets everything. We have driven back to school more times than I can count because I have told him to start his homework only to find it is not in his backpack. He has a planner that we had to buy for school. He lost it. Twice. It is still lost. He just shoves crumpled papers in the bottom of his backpack. He had a folder at the beginning of the year. I have since given him two others. Currently, he has no folder. The second a task becomes too difficult or requires more attention than he is willing to give he shuts down. I can’t do it. It is impossible. I am stupid. This is stupid. Why do I have to do this?

How do you deal with that as a parent? I try. I’ve been trying since he was born. Take a break. Play outside. Push through. Let me help. Listen to music. Skip that problem. Drink a Coke while you do it. If you finish in 15 minutes you can have extra electronics.

None of it works.

There is yelling. Threats and tears are apt to occur. He hates to write. Using a pencil to form words is the worst punishment. He isn’t a fan of typing either. Organizing ideas onto a paper with a beginning, middle, and end kills him, even though he has one of the most vivid imaginations and loves telling stories.

He worries. A ton. About everything. This often manifests in clowning around, being irritable, becoming argumentative, and blaming everyone else. My kid is the kid that acts without thinking. He doesn’t connect the dots until after.

It is easy to put him in a box as the bad kid, the ADHD/anxiety kid, or the kid who can’t control himself, but that isn’t who he is.

He is the only child in our house who opens the front door for me and holds it open until I can lock it. Every day. He reads out loud to his siblings. He holds their hands as they walk across the street. He notices the small things you do. He may not say anything right then but he stores it away, and when you just feel like you can’t do it one more day, he thanks you. He thanks you for listening, for the napkin notes, for trying, for watching tv shows together, and for just being there. He has cried on my birthday before because he was so grateful to have me as a mother.

He doesn’t like to see others bullied or picked on. He has a strong heart for animals. He doesn’t cuss. He is appalled by people, especially children, who do. I cuss when I am angry or frustrated so you can see where this may cause some friction. If he does mess up big time, he owns up to it. He will write an apology note or go to their door to say sorry. Sure, sometimes we have to urge him, but he does it and understands the need to do so.

If I am sick or ill he is the first one to ask if I am OK. He will tell me to sit on the couch while he gets an ice pack or medicine or a drink. He has offered to put everyone to bed so I wouldn’t have to. He enjoys when I read out loud to him. He loves the bonding aspect. Same goes for board games and cooking. Family traditions are dear to his heart. He loves reading and making lists. He is funny, clever, quick-witted, and can think of his feet.

It is easy to forget. It is easy to get caught up in the moment. It is easy to constantly belittle or bemoan who he is or what he isn’t. It is tiring for me, his teachers, and his support system. Just when you think you’ve gotten through or helped everything changes.

I imagine it must be exhausting for him.

I think of him as one of the bravest people I know. He wakes up every day and faces a world that is going to try to force him to be what he isn’t. He knows he will get in trouble every day for something. He knows no matter what he does, it won’t be perfect, and he may forget something, and he won’t be able to control all of his emotions or outbursts. And yet, he gets up every day and he does it. 

Sometimes, I am his biggest critic. I forget to be his biggest fan.

Luckily, he forgives easily and often. Sometimes, it just takes calling him down to make cookies. Just the two of us. Enjoying each other’s company because above all else he is my son and I am his mom, all the other labels be damned.

Becky Weigel

Becky Weigel is a mother of five kids. She recently moved to the suburbs of Chicago after having lived in Indiana and before that Kentucky. Writing blog posts over the years has been a way to keep in touch with family and friends. When you have four boys and a girl life is never dull, the unexpected happens at every turn, and it is a life gone crazy. Hopefully, when you read about her boisterous life you don't feel so alone, and maybe a little bit better about yourself.