Thanks to the Teachers Who Love My Child
I’m used to hearing about my son’s ADHD-related shortcomings in school meetings — but this time a teacher’s words made me cry for a different reason.
Not long ago I had the pleasure of attending my son’s annual staffing. This is the annual back-to-school meeting where I get the chance to introduce myself to each of his subject teachers and discuss his challenges, my concerns, and our goals. Last year’s staffing was a very stressful meeting, as we had come off a rough summer filled with new treatment attempts and a whole lot of uncertainty. It turned out to be a great year for Holden, with significant growth, and that is what made this year’s staffing so much fun.
We are very fortunate to attend a school that is staffed by a team of teachers who are very committed to being engaged in their student’s learning and success. Our meeting started with me explaining Holden’s challenges and expressing that communication between all team members is vital to his success, and our survival. The teachers eagerly responded with their happy Holden stories, sharing with me the good things they’ve noticed already.
His science teacher then took things to a new level. Holden was in this teacher’s class last year, and he requested to have her again. She knew what she was getting into, and could have burst the “beginning of the school year happy bubbles” of the other teachers. Instead, she began her part by sharing, “I love your child. Seriously, I am so glad I get to have him in my class again,” and illustrating with some specific examples. But then she opened the floodgates when she looked me directly in the eye and said, “I need you to know that you have an AMAZING child.” How can that not make a struggling mom cry?
It’s important for me to share this story because that teacher probably doesn’t know just what an impact her words had. My “Can we possibly survive another year of middle school?” doubts were calmed with an overcoming sense of, “Wow, we’re making progress, and people SEE that.” I want teachers to realize that we, as parents of children with ADHD, are used to hearing the not-so-good news. We’ve heard a whole lot of “He blurts out!” and “He just CAN’T sit still” throughout our years of schooling. We’ve heard all about the things our children cannot do, like finish their work. But what most of us don’t hear enough of is what they can do, and what they excel at.
It is important for every parent to hear good about their children. When teachers share the good, it makes the bad easier to take. But it’s even more important for us parents of children with ADHD to hear these good things because we’re also fighting a hard battle on the home front. The 30 minutes of homework that you assigned to your class probably takes us an hour. Or two. A science fair project, intended to be over in two weeks can take us a month and cost us 37 new grey hairs.
As parents of kids with ADHD, we know that they aren’t easy for teachers to teach. We see it — they aren’t always easy to parent, either. That’s why teachers’ positive comments about our children are so much more effective than the negative ones. I am so thankful for our science teacher’s comments, as they have really helped start off our year on a positive foot.