The Dreams I Had for my Children

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As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a mother. This desire was heightened in my teens when I was the neighborhood babysitter. I just loved being around children. I liked playing board games, was a wiz at baking chocolate chip cookies, and I could change a diaper in 1 minute flat. So, from the age of 13 until 36, when I had my first child, I had a lot of time to think about what my future children would be like. I had it all worked out in my mind the type of mother I would be, and the types of children I would have. I had lots of dreams for my kids. The ancient Greeks calls this type of planning/thinking hubris.

My musical prodigy dream meant that all three would start taking piano lessons at three years of age. As they developed in their love of music (of course, they would love it because I loved it), they would each take up one of my favorite instruments: the cello, the violin and the oboe. After I moved to Texas, I became open to the banjo, the fiddle, and the mandolin. (Life got in the way though. With three kids in diapers and hefty student loans, we never could afford a piano.)

There were other dreams too. Since school came fairly easy to my husband and me, I assumed my children would not struggle in school. Yes, they would have to work hard if they wanted to stay in those AP courses and internships with researchers working on the Genome Project, but on the whole, they would breeze through the halls of K-12 grade. (Isn’t this a nice dream?)

Naturally, extracurricular things would be effortless for my kids. Baseball, soccer, basketball, sailing, horseback riding…They may not be the star players in EVERY sport, but they would definitely be key contributors.

I think all parents have dreams like this, and some parents are very lucky when their child takes quickly to the cello, makes the honor roll each quarter, and is the MVP of all sports he/she plays. Dreams are funny little phenomena. Some stay in a dreamy no-man’s-land state, and others become actualized. One definition of dream is “a wild or vain fancy.” I think that is the type of dream I had for my children. These dreams were wild and fanciful, and they centered on me—vanity, vanity, vanity. The dream kids would make me look good, real good.

School comes naturally to Katie, my middle child. She is fortunate to have great executive function skills; in other words, she know what to do with a folder, never forgets to write down assignments, and has a calendar filled with due dates. Katie instinctively meshes with how a traditional school runs. At home, this child spreads out all her books and papers, and methodically completes each homework assignment at a pretty good speed. It’s no surprise that Katie makes the honor roll—with virtually no help from her father or me.

Then, then there are the other two kids, who were just born different. They both have some type of dyslexia. Both have slow processing systems (which makes reading even more difficult), and both have severe ADHD. Oh yeah, and they have very high IQs.

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Guilt of a Slacker Summer Mama

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I was raised a Catholic, so I am an expert in guilt. Plus, I am a mother, which means everyday I find a thousand reasons to feel guilty about my mothering skills. I am also an Educational academic by trade—someone who knows how to research, someone who should know the right way to do things, which I rarely do because of “Momnesia,” which in turn makes me feel guilty because I am not using my brain, and not using it to better the lives of my children.

That very messy prelude is leading up to a guilt-ridden confession: I have done NOTHING educational with my children this summer. Well, that is not entirely true because I have yelled up to the kids to read a book before going to bed. I am pretty sure one does, one braids her hair, and the other is up there building a Minecraft village with Legos.

  • Have I run through the times tables with my soon-to-be 4th grader?
  • Have I made my soon-to-be-6th and 7th graders read their three summer reading books?
  • Have I even bothered to buy a workbook of some kind so they can keep up with their skills?

The answer to all of these questions is NO! In fact, I have not even insisted that the kids play educational video games.

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Common Misconceptions of ADHD: A Mom’s Perspective

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  • Too many kids are on medicine for no reason or just because they are a behavioral problem.”
  • “I would never medicate my child.”
  •  “There’s nothing wrong with her that a little discipline wouldn’t help.”
  •  “That child is just a daydreamer.”

These are just some of the misconceptions I have heard people say about children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).   People are very quick to dismiss ADHD as a character defect or even something fabricated. The truth of the matter is that ADHD (sometimes called ADD) is not an imaginary thing that doctors and parents created to explain away bad behavior.   In fact, it is a neurological disorder—a real, live brain issue—that affects the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the area that controls attention, behavior regulation and organization (Tarnow Center). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists have not found a cause for ADHD, but they do know that it typically runs in families. (This is where my husband and I start pointing fingers.)

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