When my eldest child was still an infant, I quickly learned that if he tugged at an ear once, or got a little fussy at bedtime, I should take him to the pediatrician immediately. Invariably he'd be diagnosed with a bilateral ear infection. He didn't give me a lot of clues when he was sick, and not much fazed him.
He's still not giving us a lot of clues. A discussion with his psychiatrist this week brought that home with a sharp point. He's been working all year to stay cool, pretend everything is fine and good and great. But it seems he's a lot more worried about making friends than he's let on to anyone. Not even us.
Of all the fallouts related to ADHD and anxiety, I didn't realize that friends (or the lack thereof) would be the worst. I feel like I should've. It breaks my heart to think of him fumbling through the year, wanting to make friends but not able to. Imagine being unable to do something that everyone else seems to do without thinking -- like throwing a ball, or walking across a room. Then imagine being bright, sensitive, and tossed into a new school where the tight group of kids who knew and accepted you from toddlerhood are no longer around. Add to that constant input/criticism/suggestions/pressure from teachers, staff, and other kids, and man -- I'd hide how I was feeling, too. Pretend it was all fine. Nothing to see here, I'm good, move along move along.
So, I'm thankful for our new psych, who's able to peel those layers back to see what's going on. Even better, he'll take suggestions from her, and feels better about problems when he's had the chance to talk things out with her. This week it was a bossy girl in class who wants to tell him what to do all the time. Together they strategized ways to head her off.
But I feel bad. Awful, in fact. Maybe, if we're very lucky, he'll enjoy being back in structured child care programs and make some friends there. I want to order up a perfect friend for him right now, but since I can't do that, I guess he has to keep trying and failing and learning new strategies until he gets better. We're throwing everything at the problem that we can -- counseling, summer school, age-approriate how-to books. I know he'll get it eventually.
But it's a tough road to get there.