One morning last week I called Cindi long distance because I had 7 free minutes. Her 10 year old daughter answered her phone, which surprised me because I figured at 7:30 or so a 5th grader might be, oh, I don't know, at school by now? Or getting ready to go there? When Cindi answered the phone, she said, "I'm teaching my daughter to knit!" And explained that now that M is attending a Montessori school, she drives her later in the morning, after her little brother's bus has already picked him up over an hour earlier. Which allows one-on-one time with him later in the day when he gets off the bus and his sister is still at school. Seems to me a slice of parenting perfection, to have these bits of time during which each child has his and her parents' undivided attention for a while.
So yesterday, on her way to the Finally Approved MRI That Will Go Down In Recorded History As The Most Ludicrous Series Of Insurance Company Bureaucratic InDecisions Of Ever, she called to check in since she knew I was working from home. And we had one of those prized ADD Girl Catchups in which we talk about 473 different topics in about 15 minutes. Just the way we like it.
Turns out one of the reasons M is learning to knit is so she can take her project to school with her and work on the little blanket she's making while her teacher reads aloud to the class, from a Greek Mythology book. I'll pause here for you to get over your surprise, because I know you need this moment to yourself to process such shock. Did you ever have the opportunity in school to bring any project whatsoever to your class so you could busy your hands and That Particular Section Of Your Brain That Won't Sit Still While Someone Is Reading To You while you were being read to? Ever? I think not. And if so, I want to meet you and find out if that particular element of your childhood education better prepared you for your future, or at least helped you to become a more balanced individual.
Since receiving our own (individual, not collective, but on the timeline, with close proximity,) diagnoses with ADD and ADHD, Cindi and I have opened up more and more about our experiences of the world and how our unique way of processing information and tasks and thoughts seem to be a bit different from a lot of other people we know. And M is plagued or blessed (depending on how you see it, or more accurately, no doubt, depending on what day it is,) with the same learning difference/deficit/challenge. WHATEVER you call it, she's got it too. And after a couple of years of trying the different meds her mom and I tried, going through different dosages and prescriptions, ultimately the decision was made that no meds were better than having this child return home from school in tears feeling just "weird" or sad or whatever she felt on any given day. But unmedicated, the public educational system didn't address the needs of this child with such an active, mobile mind, and the response from teachers left her with a different kind of bad feelings. The kind that contributes to the low self-esteem many of "my peeps" are now trying to combat in their adult years, since ADD wasn't recognized back then.
So M is now in a private school that lets her knit or doodle or do whatever she wants to do during the times they're being read to. And everybody's just fine with it 'cause that's how they do it there!
I'm thinking now about how great it would be if children didn't have to enroll in private school in order to come home at the end of every day saying, "Mom, it was the best day of ever!" rather than in tears. Wouldn't it be very much excellent if we put more resources into our public school system so that every child was able to learn in the way and at the pace that best suited his or her learning style?