"Mom, this is Mia, your daughter. I forgot my book report stuff and I need it."
"Mia, you've got to be kidding me. Where is your stuff? What do you need?"
"I need a plate and some fake chicken and 4 other things that have to do with Helen Keller."
Oh, I get it now. She didn't get any of it together. She just talked about what she was going to do, but never actually got around to doing it. Now, the plate and fake chicken might be throwing you off but never fear, I knew exactly where she was going with it.
Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke fight it out as Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker
At school they had been working on a book report. They wrote 10 things down on index cards and were supposed to gather 5 physical things to bring to school for the report. Mia had been talking all week long about throwing food across the room as one of her things. You know, like Helen Keller did when she got mad at the dinner table in the movie. Because, of all things, THAT was the main point.
I rolled my eyes at the thought of it and was banking on her coming to her senses before showtime.
We all know how that turned out.
Previously in the week we talked about printing off the ASL alphabet for everyone to have. Bringing a book with real braille for everyone to feel. NOT throwing food across the room. Etc.
Every part of me wants to stuff parts of Mia into a box. A box that I began creating for my daughter years before she was born. A box that she has refused to conform to since birth.
She was officially diagnosed with ADD two years ago. It was suspected by her pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade teachers and confirmed now by her second and third grade teachers.
Can of worms opened.
ADD. Without the H in most settings. She is not hyper at school and doesn't have behavior problems. I have found that most people have an opinion on this disorder and the medications available for it whether they have personal experience or have formed just plain old uneducated guesses on what it is or how to treat it.
I made it a rule of thumb to not put very much stake into the opinions of anyone who did not have personal experience with ADD/HD or who wasn't in the medical profession.
That just makes sense to me. And throughout this journey I need at least one thing that makes sense.
I have been chewed out by a mother for not medicating Mia like she was doing for her daughter. I have been given disapproving looks and sighs from people the three months I did medicate her.
I had friends who were supportive when we decided to medicate but once she was off the meds they gave me their real opinions which were not very nice and very hurtful.
The entire situation has left me feeling sad, frustrated, left out, and defeated.
And then I remember that it's Mia we are dealing with, not Levi and I, and she is happy as a lark.
So what gives?
In all honesty? She isn't perfect like I had planned. How dare her.
I am still getting over myself and my image that I apparently am trying to protect. Our children are a direct reflection of us and so it makes sense to want them to look good so that we do too.
It makes sense, but it is wrong thinking.
So in effort to not stuff that sweet girl into a box I drove home and gathered a plastic plate, some fake food from their play kitchen stash, a print off of the ESL alphabet, a picture of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, and a doll (Annie brought Helen a doll as a gift).
When she came to get her stuff I asked her how she missed this very important deadline. She said, "Well, Mom? I knew it was due Thursday May 17th but nobody ever told me that it WAS May 17th! I didn't even know it was Thursday! We don't have calendar time in third grade and that just really helped me last year!"
Well, she does have a point. It honestly never occurred to me that calendar time in Pre-K, K, 1st, and 2nd was a HUGE help for her. We will be having our own calendar time next year, you can bet on it.
I gave her some pointers on how to throw her food without getting suspended. Then she trotted happily to her classroom to give her stellar performance as I walked back to my car praying she didn't knock anyone out with that fake chicken leg.
That afternoon I wasted no time in asking her how it all went. And if anyone got stitches. Or a concussion. Or lost an eye. She said that when her teacher gave her critique one of her favorite parts was how Mia threw the food on the floor and handed out her pictures and doll for others to look at during the presentation because no one else passed their stuff around or acted anything out.
And that is why you don't stuff your kids into boxes. What a sweet gift of words from that teacher to this child with wild ideas.