“Then Change Your Expectations”

Big Sigh.

I don’t know where to start.  The last few months we’ve been struggling with parenting Riley.  I guess I should start by being honest.  For the last few YEARS we’ve been struggling with parenting Riley.  Only when he was 4 or 5 I could physically pick him up, put him on my lap, and make him comply.  Now he’s bigger, his presence is bigger, the space he takes up is bigger, his voice is bigger (exponentially) and physically I can hardly pick him up any longer.  He’s creative and smart and funny and full of energy and amazing.  All of this is true.  But he also pushes every boundary you think you have, bounces off the walls with energy that never ends, forgets everything from the minor instruction to the most important detail.  I could tell him as he gets out of the car at school that the first thing he should do is put his jacket in his backpack when he gets into his classroom and when I pick him up, the jacket has somehow spontaneously combusted.  He exists in chaos in any facet of his life (from his backpack to his desk to his bedroom to his thought processes) , pushes buttons (namely mine) and acts before he ever even thinks about the consequence.  Still.  At almost 7 he acts first.  thinks later.

I love the energy.  Sometimes.  I love the creativity.  Sometimes.  I love the joy.  Always.  But I also get tired of constantly cutting out boxes into spaceships.  Constantly creating projects and activitites to keep him busy because the second he’s not busy he’s up to mischief.  Mediating between him and Casey.  Casey who likes things orderly, lined up, arranged.  Impeccable.  Riley is tough to parent.  It makes me look bad.  Anyone with access to our home will see that its true that I am not always consistent.  But my sisters are not always consistent either.  And their children don’t take the inconsistency and run with it.  Remember it.  Pull it out at the moment it is most convenient.

We started the process to evaluate him for ADHD about 2 months ago.  First with his pediatrician.  Then with a behavior specialist at the UU.  Now we have a diagnosis.  Riley has moderate to severe ADHD with hyperactivity and inattentiveness.  Now I have parenting classes to take for parents of ADHD children.  Riley has language to explain why his body and brain go into overdrive.  And we have a decision to make about medication.  Right now he’s doing okay with school.  He’s reading at grade level.  His teacher is so great with him and she keeps him accountable with a daily note she sends home and with behaviorial card turns.  He’s well liked.  And he certainly doesn’t have self-esteem issues.  So since his diagnosis isn’t impacting him socially, isn’t impacting his self-esteem, and isn’t hurting him school-wise, we have decided to wait on medication but to be open to the idea of this in the future. 

At the same time, I wonder, he’s so smart and he’s reading AT grade level.  Not ABOVE grade level.  Would medication help him achieve some higher potential?  And then I have to put my expectations aside and breathe.  breathe.  breathe. 

This week the psychiatrist looked me in the eye as I asked, “is it so much to ask that he keep his room and his backpack orderly?”

And she responded to me, “Asking him to be organized is like asking him to change the color of his eyes.”

And I went on.  “I expect him to be responsible.  I expect him to be able to find his homework.  I expect him to turn it in.  I expect him to be on time for school.   I expect him to make a mistake once and learn from it and be able to apply that mistake to other situations. I expect him to value his things, take care of them, not lose them, and feel thankful for the things he has.  I expect him to listen to me the first time I tell him to do something.  I expect him to do it right away.  I expect him to do it right – and by right – I mean the way I would do it.  These are the things I expect.”

She replied, “then change your expectations.”

I realized something big.  Something huge.  It has been more important to me that he be on time for school.  It has been more important to me that he turn his homework in.  It has been way more important to me than it has been for him.   I wanted a child who’d mirror me.  Love school.  Excel.  I guess I wanted to surround his success.  But then again, my parents wanted a heterosexual. 

Maybe parenting is simply putting that all aside.  And just loving what is.


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7 Responses to ““Then Change Your Expectations””

  1. Keri Says:

    I’m happy to hear you’ve at least found a place to land – a reason. And now you know that you’re not hypersensitive and over-reacting. There really IS something to be looking for. I’m sad and glad for you all at once.
    You’re terrific. & so is Riley. Maybe you’ll both feel better just “loving what is”.

  2. Doug Says:

    you expect you expect you expect your self centered like your grandpa i took years trying to please him you said one thing right all most 7

  3. Kelly Says:

    its settled then… we need to talk and you need to move out here. NOW…


  4. the other sister Says:

    whether he is almost 7 or 15 he will never be you. but I do think he is happy. Roo is extremely unorganized (have you seen her bedroom) and JD is content getting C’s on his report card. But they are genuinely happy. One reason is I have stopped trying to control them. I simply shut Roo’s door to her room and complement JD on his A’s and B’s. However when Roo can’t find something in her room I refuse to help and JD knows the consequences of school field trips if his grades are below a 3.0. I have learned that the hardest part about being a parent is not “helping them to succeed” but “letting them fail”.

  5. Carrie Says:

    Hey, I am consistently not consistent.

    Chelle got up this morning after a hard night. As we were waiting at her school for the janitor to unlock the front door, I asked her how she was doing. “Good enough,” she replied.

    (There’s a lesson there; I’m just not sure what it is.)

    I don’t have any great words of advice. I just really admire (and love) you and Kim.

  6. ohchicken Says:

    i think that you are a great mama.

  7. Will Says:

    Knowing the kid as well as I do I just have to say that I am extremely grateful I’m not his parent. He is an amazing child with unlimited potential. You and Kim are incredible parents with limited patience (expectedly). Balance will come and someday I’m sure you’ll miss these crazy cardboard rocketship days. I love you and your family more than words can express. Now, get me the hell out of your house!

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