Remember that song?
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There’s a whole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
So fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry. So fix it, dear Henry. Then fix that darn hole.
I remember it was on Sesame Street once. Every once in a while that song will pop into my head. No apparent reason. Just because.
I’ve been singing that song a lot lately.
Last month, we met for a routine parent/teacher conference at the school. The conference included the Big Cheese. Everything we heard that day we already knew. We weren’t shocked by anything that we heard that day. But there was something that happened in the conversation that changed everything.
After all of the positives came the negatives. He has trouble paying attention. He can’t focus on his work. His work isn’t getting done, even though he knows and has mastered the material. His hand writing is mess and he had trouble at times becoming overly emotional.
“We see it at home too,” we told her.
And then the Golfer said something to the teacher that surprised me.
“Do you think there could be something…more…going on here?”
I hate to admit it, but I was a little shocked by what he was asking. We had never discussed the possibility that there might be something more serious going on with our son. The Golfer had never muttered the words, “Hey babe, do you think…?” This was the first that I was hearing that he had even had these thoughts.
I wanted to hit the pause button. I wanted to pause the teacher and turn towards my husband and ask why the hell he had never expressed these concerns to me, his wife, the mother of this child, before this moment. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop the flow, so all I did was nod my head like we had discussed this many, many times before.
Immediately, she confirmed his suspicions by saying, “I would love to discuss that further with both of you at another time.”
I felt like I was on the outside looking in. A slight “out of body experience” if you will. They both suspected something and where was I? Clueless. Out to lunch. Unavailable for comment. I just thought we had a child with a difficult personality. A child that was challenging. It had never crossed my mind that my son might not be able to help his behavior. That there might actually be something…wrong…with his little brain.
I know this might sound dramatic to say it this way, but in that moment it was like a vale had been lifted. A light had been turned on. We had finally been given glasses after walking around nearsighted. Suddenly everything made sense.
That’s it! That’s what it is. It’s not my parenting. It’s not something I’ve done wrong in raising him. It’s something…more. Something else. Something like…ADD.
We learned that day that there was a hole in our bucket.
I immediately went home and jumped online. I went into “fix it” mode. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t emotional. What I felt was…relief. I felt like we had an answer to all of our frustrations and worries. And now, all I wanted to do was find the confirmation I was looking for and then…fix it.
So fix it, dear Henry. Then fix that darn hole.
I Googled and searched and read and ingested. I sat on the floor at Barnes and Noble in the “Special Needs” section and decided which books I should buy to help me fix the hole in our bucket. And again not to be overly dramatic, but every web page, every page in every book was like I was reading about our son.
“Listen to this!” I would say to the Golfer. And he would say, “Yeah. That’s him. Totally.”
Neither one of us are child psychiatrists, but we couldn’t help ourselves. We didn’t need a teacher or doctor to tell us what we already were seeing. What we already knew.
But it is always good to get a second opinion. Especially when that second opinion comes from an actual professional.
Two weeks later we met with the teacher again, this time without the Big Cheese present. I felt badly for her. From the beginning of our meeting I could tell that she was nervous about delivering the news, telling us her suspicions. Little did she know that we already knew what she was going to tell us. We were already in agreement with her before she even started. But oh, how grateful I was for her! To know our child well enough, to care enough to step out and say something that, is difficult for a parent to hear is one of the hardest things to do as a teacher. I know because I had to do it once.
Ironically it was also through a parent/teacher conference. My co-teacher and I had to share the news with the parents of a little girl in our class that we thought she might have a learning disability and should look into being tested. I will never forget the mother starting to cry and before standing to leave the room, looking at me and saying,”You don’t understand! You don’t have children!”
But now I do. And I’m the one sitting on the other side of the table. I think that’s what some people refer to as karma.
An hour into our meeting, an hour of discussing our bright boy (bright enough to be tested for the gifted program) and all of his issues big and small, it was agreed by all three of us that he has all of the classic ADD symptoms. He needed to see a doctor.
Here we go.