Neurodivergently Clueless

My son is doing much better on his medication. I didn’t have to do much to convince the pediatrician he needed it. I was prepared to get letters of support from his teachers, the school guidance counselor, etc.

We were waiting in the office, and when the pediatrician came in, R. was pulling the bottom step out from the table (it’s the step stool for littler kids). As I was explaining to her what was going on with him, he started interrupting: “Is that stool clean? I touched the handle. Is it clean? Is there COVID on there? Can I wash my hands? Are my hands dirty?”

She just sorta blinked, asked a few questions, and said “Yeah I’ll send the Prozac to Kroger.”

For a while he still did some validation-seeking stuff: “did you see me get soap all over my hands?” We went between reminding him he doesn’t need us, to enabling him if he’s tired and it’s not worth the fight. Because for the love of all that’s holy…if you want an argument, try convincing an OCD person something’s not contaminated.

In October I had parent-teacher conferences for both kids. I’ve seen R’s teacher in the hall when I was over at the school volunteering, and she’s been telling me how well he’s doing on his medication. So when I talked to her on PTC night, I was surprised when she told me she had a new problem with R.

“I’m not sure exactly how to describe it so I’m going to tell you what I saw. He forgot his headphones for reading group so I sent him to get them. He went over there, looked around, and knocked four or five other pairs off the hooks. Then he did this little evil cackle.”

I’m sitting there with dread creeping up behind me and the overwhelming urge to laugh maniacally. Thinking “Sounds like a kid I used to know.”

She goes on to say she caught him shuffling some cards the kids use for library. She made him fix his messes both times, but she was asking what I thought.

“So it sounds like he’s…um, vandalizing your room?”

Then I heard from the music teacher that for a whole class, R did the exact opposite of what she told him.

We discussed how maybe R is pushing limits because he’s relaxed/comfortable enough at school to do so. Also that he hasn’t caught a clue yet that the adults at school do talk to me.

When I asked R. “what the heck,” first he told me he didn’t participate because the music teacher played a violent song about America.

Side note: He makes up stuff. I’m aware. Imaginary friends, teachers, situations…if all the kids really broke their arms this year whom R claims broke their arms on the playground so far, this school would be sued into bankruptcy already.

To verify this story, I asked, “Hmm. If I call her up will she tell me what that song was?”

He said “Don’t call her.” Then he confessed he was playing jokes on the teachers. “Pranks!”

*headdesk*

We had a chat about how hard teachers work, how nice Mrs. M is, and how we are not going to prank teachers.

Things have been fairly quiet since, at least with school. R. enjoys the first grade now, and his anxiety seems to be in a good place.

My daughter is still hating middle school, mostly because it starts too early. Her teachers told me at my meetings how smart she is, and that she draws nonstop in their classes, including during inappropriate times. I. says it helps her focus. The teachers pretty much agreed with her grades so far they can’t say much, except it distracts other kids.

Her English teacher said one day she told I. to put away her sketchbook and participate more, or she’d take it until the end of the day. She saw I. sneak it out later so she made good on her threat and took it. Then she saw I. nonchalantly pull out a spare one the next time she looked away. OCD kids come prepared.

The good thing about my kids is, even though they never run out of interesting and creative ways to get into trouble, they’re pretty good about shaping up once they do get into it. Until the next great idea hits. “Nobody ever told me I couldn’t ______ !”

In the middle of trying to collaborate with everyone on R, I got this workshop invitation from one of the schools about “2e kids.” I had never heard of 2e kids. But reading the flyer, I thought “How the hell have I never heard of 2e kids?”

2e means “twice exceptional,” and it’s a label for kids like mine (and me, and half my friends…) that are gifted with that extra learning or emotional or behavioral disorder flavor. I’ve had several psychologists and counselors mention offhand that gifted kids and anxiety disorders go together like peas and carrots (I don’t like either tbh, but you do always find them together). I didn’t know there’s a whole community of people with the double whammy – to the extent that there are workshops.

I also did not know that OCD is possibly considered to be neurodivergent. It seems to depend on which source you’re looking at.

Of course, when the kids got their first report cards, they both did fantastic.

That’s the funny thing with gifted people. On paper we look great! So it’s easy to pretend things are fine when they aren’t. Or almost fine when they’re horrendous. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help. I don’t think I’ve done it in about twenty years.

Joking aside, I’ll do it for my kids. I want them to have an easier time with it than I did. I’m just glad there are so many resources I can tap into now, and that mental health is slowly (too. damn. slowly. – it’s one reason I talk about it.) becoming less of a risqué topic.

Like most parents, I wouldn’t trade my kids for anyone else’s. They’re hilarious, sweet, caring, creative as hell, and mostly well-behaved. They just don’t do boredom very well. Or rules…or structure…and I have a hard time saying anything about it because neither do I.

I’m ten times happier doing gig work than I ever was in an office. I liked production work for many years, because there was a lot of variety and daily problem-solving – not to mention I could just read the articles I was working on whenever I got bored. But having to follow arbitrary rules has always chafed my ass, and it shocks me zero percent that my kids aren’t fans, either.

So I often find myself bumbling around trying to explain to the kids why they have to do something the way they do, even though it doesn’t make sense, when I’m not even buying what I’m selling. I end up babbling something about the social contract and yes it sucks to get up at six am but if we all did what we wanted we’d be flinging poo at each other like zoo monkeys so get your shoes on for the love of all the gods and saints and tree sloths, it’s 7:39 already.

But anyway, we’re in a much better place than we were when school started. Still working on making middle school suck less for I., but we’ll get there. Me and the rest of our little 2e family circus.

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