Tales of a Fifth Grade Something

My son is obsessed with football and accuracy. In that order. Javi wants to be right, always, and cannot hold back from gracing the world with his opinion on all things.

Therefore, it shouldn't have come as a surprise when his name was announced not once but twice for winning top honors last week. Young Authors state winner. Fifth grade science fair winner. Labels that no one could've forseen my inattentive, impulse, argumentative, over-reactive boy ever wearing.

ADHD is an insidious thing in that it hides behind beautiful brown eyes and a wide smile. It sneaks in when you think you've cast it off. But, sometimes, it convinces you to lower your expectations, cast down your eyes, and pray that your child will only blend in and never stand out.

And so, Javi's ability to shine shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. That's the trap ADHD set for me.

Despite the pain of getting caught in a sharp-toothed trap, the realization that I've underestimated Javi hurts worse. I've been holding on, white-knuckled, to hopes of anonymity. Let him not stand out. Let him be a middling student, a face in the crowd, a voice that speaks neither too softly nor too loudly.

Let him be average.

After six long years of public education, six years of phone calls and letters and constant complaint. He can't sit still, he won't stop talking, he argues, he jumps, he hits, he stares off into the distance.... Six. Long. Years.

Of course, two top awards and one week don't erase the weariness of time and effort to appease and fit in. And, unfortunately, the world doesn't stop spinning at fifth grade.

We're facing middle school and beyond. Tougher academics, heavier social demands, a maturing student body that may well leave my sweet Javi far behind. Yet, the lesson's been learned, for me, the hard way.

I will not push my child to be less than his very best self. I will not cloud his potential to shine. I will not allow ADHD or anything else to mask Javi's particular combination of intelligence and creativity under the guise of average.

Congratulations to my oldest on excelling in both writing and science. You are a wonderful student -- and an even better teacher.

***This post is part of Wordful Wednesdays.***


  • Donna

    Beautiful! Congrats to both of you.

  • Beth

    Thank you for this, from a mom who has only been spinning in this work for a little less than a year, and only for 6 weeks with an actual diagnosis. These words were such comfort to me.

  • Stacy Uncorked

    Awwww! That is awesome! It also gives me hope that the 4 year old boy we're fostering (and will be adopting later this year) who has been labeled (by his former foster mom) but not diagnosed as ADHD will be able to shine bright as he gets older. :)

  • Stacia

    Shivers. Love this. What a great reminder that our kiddos have so much to teach us, if only we take a moment to stop teaching them. (And I'm glad the days you were entrusted with the battery experiment didn't derail the science fair trophy train!) =>

  • Kelly Miller

    @Donna - Thank you!

    @Beth - Our diagnosis came in 2006, but we didn't attempt medication until 2008. It's been a long road!

    @Stacy - I have such a soft spot for foster families! Definitely have him evaluated so you can get OT and PT, etc., but also give him plenty of opportunities to shine. (And check out www.amomsviewofadhd.com for support!)

    @Stacia - I almost ruined that damn project! I had to restart the batteries TWICE because I forgot to keep looking at them. Someone should give *me* a prize!

  • Bibliomama

    Wow times a thousand. What a family you are.

  • Draft Queen

    Congrats to Javi!

    Don't be too hard on yourself. Live and learn. I don't think that you consciously underestimated Javi this whole time, and I'm sure you'll never let him settle for anything less in the future.

  • Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri

    Love this. Brought a tear to my eye. Hearty congrats to you both.

  • HynesMom

    Reminds me so much of when Dylan was student of the month. Nothing could've surprised me more. Then you feel ashamed of the surprise.

    Way to go, Javi! Big week!

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