He groans and throws the covers over his head. I don’t want to go to school. Four years old going on seventeen. It’s like dragging an angsty teenager out of bed after a late night out. His mom bribes him. Your friends will be there. Don’t you want to see your friends? This is enough for him to begrudgingly stumble out of bed…some days. He counts down the days. Five schools. Four school. Do I still have more schools?
I gave him an alphabet puzzle for his first Christmas. It didn’t take him long to master the puzzle and learn all of his letters, but it also didn’t long for him to seemingly throw away all of the knowledge. As soon as he mastered it, he was done with it. He doesn’t need to prove his mastery to anyone.
No one is really sure how he learned to fix his toys, but we certainly knew when he did. The days of telling him dead batteries meant broken toys were gone. It’s not broken. You need a screwdriver and batteries. Fix it. Cute, but exhausting. He always brought the correct screwdriver, too.
By eighteen months, he knew more about trucks and cars than I do. He grew frustrated by our apparent ignorance on this topic. He learned all the dinosaur names – names far too big for a child so small. He talks at a speed so fast that only those closest to him can truly follow the conversation – a habit not much appreciated by his teachers.
He loved to watch the microwave. So, of course, he learned to count backwards before forward. He could count anything that mattered to him – mostly to ensure that no one took any of his toys!
He started three-year old preschool with a surplus of knowledge – the alphabet, his colors, his numbers, and more. His teachers were shocked and, for a moment, very accommodating. He was sent off to the four-year old program for half the day. He was in love.
Now, he’s basically repeating the year because he is not quite ready for Kindergarten. He doesn’t like to sit for story time. He wants to go outside and play. His teacher knows that he can count, but he’s failing the same exact tests he aced last year. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to show her what he can do. He’s so young, but he already understands that it doesn’t matter. He’ll still learn his numbers in school – even if he already knows them. He’ll still learn his colors – even if he already knows them. It doesn’t matter, and he knows.
He can read. I’m sure of it, but he doesn’t care to show you. He flies through games and activities that definitely require the ability to read. If he’s in the right mood, you may be able to coax him into reading a few words aloud too. Don’t count on much. He gets bored quickly.
He can write most of his letters. He doesn’t want to write them at school. He writes them at home when no one is looking. He wrote his name on the wall when his parents bought a new house. I was sad to paint over it. He practices his letters secretly in his Paw Patrol handwriting book. Just don’t ask him to do it with you. The answer will likely be no. He gets frustrated easily. He wants perfection. He wants his letters to look like mommy’s version. He doesn’t accept anything less.
His perfectionism leads to temper tantrums. He can’t cope with anything less. His letters aren’t perfect, so he throws the practice book. He doesn’t beat a game with a perfect score, he stomps away. Give him half a cheese stick, rather than a whole cheese stick, and he’ll never eat it. Don’t you dare put the wrong lid on his water bottle. Don’t dip his chicken nuggets in ketchup or mustard. Don’t dip any of his food in anything for that matter. Don’t put Paw Patrol in his friend’s truck. He doesn’t go there. Don’t mix and match his toys or put them in the wrong place. He’s not being picky. He just can’t tolerate it.
Be careful with your words because he hears everything. He feels everything so deeply. If your stressed, he’s stressed. If your sad, he’s sad. He’s going to want to comfort you, but he needs comforting more.
More than anything, don’t try to fit him into a box. He’s not interested in sitting for hours on end with little to do. He wants to run and play. He thinks while he walks, dances, runs, skips, and tumbles. He doesn’t think when he sits. When he sits, he only thinks about not wanting to sit. I’m sure of it. He’ll sit when the task merits it, but not simply because it’s the thing to do.
He doesn’t have ADD or ADHD. His brain needs constant stimulation. He needs to try that new game sitting across the room. He stays on task at home. He can spend hours building with his LEGOs, creating imaginative play scenes, mastering a new video game, matching Disney cards, or carefully stacking the couch cushions to create his own diving board. He can spend an eternity carefully putting his toys away, practicing his handwriting in secrecy, or flipping through his book collection. He stays on task at home. He focuses at home with an intensity so deep that he hardly hears his mom call him for dinner.
Yet, the school wants him evaluated. They haven’t said so, but I’m sure they want him medicated. He’s too much for them to handle. They want to hamper his creative mind with drugs – to tone him down – to put him in a box he doesn’t belong in. He’s not quiet and complacent like other children. He doesn’t stare ahead in silence. His list of questions has no end. He’s curious. He’s sensitive. He’s full of life and love. He’s all these things and more, but he’s not ADHD.
I wish the teachers could see this. I wish that they could see him sit still through three lengthy bedtime stories and still beg for “just two more!” I wish they could see him put together a fifty-piece puzzle in one sitting with ease. I wish they could see him spend hours figuring out how his latest toy works. His concentration is intense to a fault. He forgets the need to drink, eat, or use the bathroom. He forgets the world around him. He’s not ADD. He’s not ADHD. He’s bored.