There’s nothing worse than thinking something might be wrong with your child. Whether it’s physical or emotional or academic or social, it all sounds bad.
Our seven-year-old son, Rex, has been struggling in first grade. A big part of it comes from missing kindergarten and having a mother who would rather slit her throat than homeschool (tried that for 4 miserable months). It’s put him frighteningly behind where the standardized testing says he should be and as much as I hate what the testing says, I respect the school’s assessment.
In October we started the long and lengthy process called “How To Get Your Kid Help in the Public School System.” The step by painful step procedure is slow and meticulous but I think those are the very qualities which make it extremely thorough and, in the long run, successful. The days of throwing a kid into the resource dungeon are long gone. I’m amazed at how much thought and effort goes into one child and their individual needs.
In order for Rex to qualify for the type of extra help he needs we had to undergo a barrage of testing. My husband and I took tests, his teachers took tests, the clerk at the grocery store took tests, Santa took a test–basically anyone who has any contact with Rex on a regular basis put in their two cents worth. He was tested and evaluated by three separate specialists and the pediatric psychologist at the hospital did the final assessment.
Thanks to the combined obsessive efforts of so many professional parties, the elementary school now knows more about my kid than anyone (except You Know Who, I’m confident His file on Rex is the thickest).
We were scheduled to sit down with the pediatric psychologist and go over his results at the end of December. Unfortunately I found that I couldn’t get out of bed that morning.
Because no matter how emotionally prepared I think I am to handle results about my boy and his not normal test results, I’m really not.
We come across adults on a regular basis who think an afternoon of casual observation during a play date qualifies them to assess and diagnose Rex. They know someone who is autistic, or have a cousin with Asperger’s. I hate seeing judgement like that in people’s faces. They’re wrong and I know it; we’ve had him tested before. Quit judging my kid.
But on that morning I was gripped with panic and fear. What if all those people are right? What if I’ve been blind to Rex and only see what I want to see? What if he has a problem that is unsurmountable, something that will keep him from growing and progressing and living somewhere that isn’t our basement when he’s 40?
I called in sick that afternoon. Jason rescheduled for us.
I wish I could tell you that I experienced an epiphany during the three weeks between the two appointements, that I grew emotionally and stopped acting like a large whiny baby who needed to put on big girl undies and go listen to the doctor.
Unfortunately I’m not that good at growing up.
On the morning of our second appointment Jason tried to get me out of bed. ”I’m sorry,” I finally said. “You have to do this for us. I just…can’t.”
The thing is, I knew that no matter what the test results said it wasn’t going to change how much I love my kid. He wouldn’t change just because someone gave him diagnostic title. He’d still be my happy, dreamy, helpful little buddy who likes to put things in the grocery cart for me and thinks cleaning the toilets is the best Saturday chore ever.
His results? They were exactly what we thought they would be and then some. In addition to his anxiety he has some learning hurdles to work around during these next couple of years but they are all workable. Next time I will be braver.
I really hope there’s not a next time.