Tuesday, February 25, 2014
"I guess sometimes you have to lie to find the truth." ~Scott Westerfeld
I've been telling lies. Big ones. Tall, short and plenty of grey ones. With a lot of little white lies sprinkled in between. I meant well, ya know. I never meant to hurt anybody. I think the person I hurt most of all was myself.
And my son. Because the lies have been about him. And to him. And especially the outside world. I thought I was helping him - protecting him from the judging looks and the well-intentioned advice. But I did more damage than good.
You see - I've been telling everyone including me that Jacob was normal. That he was just like every other boy but just a little more active. I've been told since he was born that he would grow out of it. Three, four and five passed and he still was the same. Impulsive, hyper, angry but also the sweetest little boy.
He was diagnosed with ADHD. I thought that we had finally found the cause for his behavior and mood swings. The doctor put him on meds and the teachers were happy. The people at church were happy. The nosy condescending women at the stores were happy. Because he was quiet on the medication. Calm and not the least bit impulsive.
But nighttime is hell. When he comes down from the meds he is moody and angry. He can't concentrate on homework. He throws a fit if he doesn't get his way. Not a five minute one, but for hours. He has a persistent streak a mile long. And at the end of the night he throws his arms around me and says "I'm sorry Mommy - I love you."
The truth is - Jacob is not normal. He is the furthest you can get from normal. And he doesn't just have ADHD. There is something more severe going on. Always has been. But because of the lies I told, I didn't push hard enough to get it checked out. The doctors didn't dig deeper because I took the easy way out. The teachers haven't been able to help in the most effective way because they bought into my lies.
Well, this year we were blessed with a teacher that didn't buy in completely. She pushed me to dig. She pushed the guidance counselor and the principal to investigate. So I took Jacob to a neurologist to start testing for learning disabilities. I didn't quite expect the prognosis he was given: Jacob's head size is less than 2nd percentile for his age. He has something called microcephalis and hyperactive sensitivity.
He's always been small. So I believed in another lie that his head should be proportionate. Because it was small, his brain folded over a little differently when he was growing. So the neural pathways didn't connect in the same ways as everyone else's. It explains the behavior. And mood swings. And temper. And the trouble with learning.
We still have a lot of testing to go to determine how severe it is and how to plan for the future. We need to figure out what learning disabilities he has and make plans to get him the extra help he needs. But it's a relief to finally be able to come out of the closet and admit that my kid isn't normal. He's not like all the other boys and he never will be.
So, despite wanting a "normal" kid so badly that I would lie to everyone, I got a special needs kid. He takes a lot of extra time, patience and energy to deal with every day. He's smart as a whip when he wants to learn, but he just works on a different operating system. He'll outrun any boy on the field and climb trees better than a monkey can. But at the end of the day, after the tears have been dried, hugs given and prayers said, I can admit that I have a special needs child - and he's one of the most special little boys you will ever meet and I can't wait to see what God has in store for this "special" child!