Thursday ended up much more eventful than I wanted or anticipated.
I spent much of the day as I planned – drinking coffee, in bed, with my book. The gloom didn’t let up and instead of making the pork fried rice I had originally planned on, I dug out chicken from the freezer and slow roasted it in the oven for chicken noodle soup. At 145pm I decided to get my life together and take care if Aaron’s errand. (When I was little I remember getting the words confused. I got upset with my mom because when she said “run errands” I thought she meant we were going to get Aaron.) I had also gotten a text that Matt’s glasses were in, so I knew of two public places I needed to go, and decided to also make myself look presentable. Also there was a good chance that in making myself presentable I would actually feel like doing something other than laying around.
I went and attended to Aaron’s busines, and came home. The chicken had cooled enough for me to begin to shred it, so I did that, and began to make the broth and chop the onions. As I was cleaning the celery, my phone rang. Little did I know that this phone call was possibly going to completely alter mine and Chase’s life.
It seemed harmless enough. It was Chase’s school. He had somehow ended up in the car pick up line and not the bus line, so they needed me to pick him up. I mostly chalked it up to confusion – normally Chase rides the bus, but yesterday his grandparents had to pick him up in the car pick up line. I didn’t stop to think that I had just been chopping onions. I called his aunt and let her know that Chase wouldn’t be on the bus that normally dropped him off at her house as I turned off the stove and rushed out the door, not washing my hands. There was a cup of chopped onions on the counter and celery on the cutting board. I called Grandma to let her know what was going on so she didn’t think anything was seriously wrong if she happened to come home and see things left the way they were. I did rush out the door in a hurry, but not because of something bad.
I drove to the school, and there sat my Chaser, looking sheepish.
“You know you ride the bus everyday, kid, unless the teacher tells you I called and said different.”
“I know Momma. I forgot.”
I sighed heavily, and decided this wasn’t a battle worth fighting unless it happened again. “C’mon, Monkey, let’s go home and get Matt. We need to go get his new glasses.” We walked out of the school, and as we crossed the yard I asked him, “What color were you on?” As I may (or may not) have explained, his school has instituted a behavior color system. Green is average. Blue and purple are above that, indicating excellent behavior. Below green is yellow and red, indicating questionable or bad behavior, bad choices as they are referred to. Chase has been struggling with his behavior, and even lying to me about it. Last week his teacher and I decided that he needed to start being held responsible at home as well as at school, and since he’d been lying to me about it, she started sending home a calendar in which he is supposed to color which color he is at the end of the day.
My question was met with Chase looking at me, eyebrows raised, out of the corner of his eye as we crossed the grass to our vehicle. “I don’t know. My color chart isn’t in my bag.”
“. . . what do you mean, it isn’t in your bag?”
“I don’t think you sent it to school with me.”
“No, I definitely did.” I stopped him mid stride and opened his book bag. Sure, enough, it wasn’t there.
“Chase, did you throw away your color chart?”
“No! I don’t know where it is!”
“Well. Maybe your teacher is still in her classroom. Let’s go ask her.”
My child is fearless, or a little foolish. I haven’t decided which. He posed no argument to us going back into the school. Maybe he knew she’d left for the day. The secretary buzzed us in with a puzzled look on her face, and I explained the situation. She called down to the classroom, and of course there was no answer. So she offered to walk down there with us.
I looked in his cubby, and the secretary, not having been told the situation other than that his color chart was missing, asked the janitor if he had emptied the garbage’s yet. He said he had not, and both of us glanced in the garbage cans in the room. No luck.
“Ah-ha!” I said, viewing the class behavior chart on the wall. And sure enough, there was my Chaser’s name. On red.
“We can stop looking now,” I informed the secretary. “I know what color he was on.” My mind was spinning. Chase was sick of being in trouble at home, and it had only been a week of him reporting his behavior at home. None of his days had been good. He was already being sneaky and conniving. He’s only in kindergarten. I refused to talk to him about it until we were in private, at home. As we walked down the corridor to the front of the school, a teacher unaware of the current situation high fived him and said “Have a good night, spider-man!” He smiled, touching the spider man emblem on the front of his jacket.
“Oh! Is it cold out, Momma?”
“It’s a little chilly, kiddo.”
“I should put my hood up, then.” He said, pulling his hood up over his head. “I don’t want to get a cold. Then I’ll miss school and I’ll miss out on learning stuff, and then I’ll be behind and it’s hard to catch up! Plus, what if we learn about something really cool while I’m gone?!”
The boy obviously doesn’t hate school. Obviously he loves to learn. Which had been the conversation I had last week with his teacher. He liked to learn, but was struggling with behavior.
We drove home and picked Matt up, and I asked Chase a couple times where his chart had gotten off to. He was still feigning ignorance, but I knew better. I told him I was going to contact his teacher once we were home for the night. We took Matt to get his new glasses, and as we sat there in the vision center of a local eyeglasses shop, I noticed a face drawn on Matthew’s hand. “Who drew that on your hand, Matt?”
“Lies. That isn’t your drawing.”
“How do you know?”
“I just do. Who drew it on you?”
“Was it a girl?”
Instantly, Matt’s face flushed. And an optometrist near us began to chuckle. “Just so you know, Mom’s know everything.” She then told us a story of how she had tried to get one by her mom with what seemed a fool-proof plan, and it had backfired on her. Matt looked bored. Chase stared at her, eyes wide. I don’t know which of my children benefited more from the story. Matt’s fib was rather harmless, obviously trying to keep the girl in his school life a secret. Chase on the other hand. . .
We got home, and while Grandma attempted to get the truth out of Chase, I text first his teacher on the school app on my phone, and then his father, who was at work. His dad was puzzled, and offered to give him a call on a break. His teacher has a very busy life, and so I did not anticipate a response right away.
It took an hour and a half of stalling from Chase, tapping his foot, and tapping his head and chin with his little pointer finger, seeming to try and think of where his chart could have possibly gone, before the truth finally came out.
“I maaaayyyyy have found a blank piece of paper in my folder. . . and it may have had lines and numbers on it?”
“And did you throw it away?” I asked.
“I might have?” he said, feigning uncertainty. I sighed heavily. Not taking the complete fall for it, but enough for me to know that he had done as I suspected.
I finished the chicken noodle soup I had been making, and began to practice “following directions” with Chase, a game we played often since the initial call from his teacher stating that he struggled in this area. “Go pick up five things in your room and put them where they belong.” “Take this upstairs to your brother.” So on and so forth. We finished dinner, and I cleaned everything up. Chase was sanctioned to his room, where he colored and drew pictures. Finally, at 8pm, a text from his teacher. “Is it too late to call you?” I told her it was not, and stepped out onto the back deck so I could have a semi-private conversation with her. We went over basically the same things – his brightness and aptitude, how clever and sweet and funny he was . . . and how he couldn’t follow directions to save his life. “For 36 days we’ve been in school. And we have the same routine every morning. Sign up for lunch, put away your backpack, take out your snack, turn in your folder. . . and he hasn’t nailed all of them one time in 36 days.” I was rubbing my head, at a loss. I know this story. I know it very well. This is the road Matthew and I traveled six years ago. Matthew’s road was much rougher, and perhaps during the next weeks and months I will tell it to you. I’ll be thinking of it often, I have a feeling.
And then the dreaded words. “Maybe at his next well check you should run this information by his doctor.”
I already had it in my head that he was showing signs similar to those that Matt had when he was diagnosed with ADHD. Matt was much more complicated, however, but there were definitely similarities. Chase has just begun school, and I was trying to refrain from jumping to conclusions. I was afraid I would hear the phrase “just because one of your children is. . .”
But damnit. I’m his mother. And I know my child. And I know he wants to be good. Desperately. “Momma, I’m never going to be on green!” He had cried multiple times during the week. And when a child is crying because he wants to be good and can’t? When Grandma tries to bribe him with a surprise and he’s lost all privedges and still can’t behave? Someone with a degree needs to step in.
I finished my conversation with his teacher, agreeing to keep working with him. Earlier in the evening Chase had helped me make brownies (which for the record, I have never been able to successfully make a batch of brownies without ruining them somehow) and after they cooled and proved to actually be a successful batch, I gave one to the boys and rushed Chase off to bed and Matt to his room so I could enjoy the only half hour of tv I watch a week, Will & Grace. On commercials I text his dad about what the teacher said, and Sophia and Dorothy as well about the show and my fears with Chase. I was surprised to not get push back from his dad. Matt’s dad had not been so open to an evaluation. We had quite the argument over Matt’s problems, and his were much more pronounced. I could tell Chase’s dad wasn’t real enthusiastic about it, as no parent could be. But he trusts my judgement I think, and it was a relief.
Part of this was written day of, and I’ve added to it in spurts. It’s a lot to think about and process. As my show was ending Chase was still up, asking for a bedtime snack. By the conclusion of the show he had fallen asleep in a heap on my bed, and I curled up next to him and hugged him, tears burning my eyes as I contemplated our road ahead. I remember all too well the road Matt and I traveled, and the tears shed and frustrations. How hard it must be to know right from wrong and not be able to control that impulsive side of oneself. How hard it must be for someone so young and innocent. In the process with Matt, he lost that innocence. And as I lay next to my Chaser I cried because I knew he may lose his, as well. Matthew has turned out exceptional for all we went through, and if not for the aide of medication I fear Matthew would not have turned into the exceptional human he is. It’s still very sad to contemplate though, and I’ve been very distracted with my thoughts and feelings on what lay ahead.
The next day I drove the 25 minutes to the boys doctors office to obtain the forms needed to begin the process. One each for Chase’s dad and myself, and one for each of his teachers. I filled mine out immediately and was appalled at the amount of indicators that the form implied by my answers. I in turn sent one with his dad to fill out while he had him this weekend, and sent the forms for his teachers with him to school today.
Today, Chase was green, and received rewards and high fives. As I stated previously, his dad has a new work schedule, one that prevents him from seeing Chase as often. Before he took the job we talked about it, and agreed that the schedule change was only temporary and the job would ultimately be beneficial. However, combined with Chase starting school, I wonder if all the change may have thrown my little guy a bit. Before the last couple of weeks I never would have suspected he had any indicators for ADHD or ADD. New environments cause different things to surface however.
We’ll see what the week brings. Maybe it’s a rough patch for him. Maybe there’s really something going on in his little head, more than we can handle on our own. Regardless, I will do whatever is best for my little one, whatever that may be.