Have you ever asked your child to do something and found you had to ask several more times before it got done? Well, at first, I considered Grasshopper to be disobedient. I started to come up with charts and games and incentives to help. We had a chore chart with stars for her morning tasks. When she filled her chart, she got to go out with either mom or dad. I had a marble jar for clearing the table after meals. I put marbles in the jar each time someone cleared the table, and they got a big candy bar when it was filled. They loved these things and participated eagerly, and I patted myself on the back . . . prematurely.
Eventually, I found that these things worked well for Cricket, but not for his older sister. After all this encouragement, Grasshopper still could not seem to do anything unless I was right there beside her. I decided that it was me that had the problem. She is the sort of kid that tries really hard to do what I ask, so if she was consistently not obeying, then it must simply be beyond her ability. I told myself that it would come with maturity and what was needed was more patience on my part.
However, the problem got worse and not better "with maturity." And that patience I sought seemed more and more elusive. I still did not consider any sort of learning disability like ADD. After all, she was advanced in every single subject area in school. I told myself that I just needed try harder and be more prayerful.
But then it began to become more her problem than mine. She started to come to me and say, "Mom, when I read, I don't remember what I read." Or, "Mom, I was going to do this craft, but I got distracted and did a bunch of other things that I didn't really want to do as much as the craft." One night, I checked in on her at 10:30pm, expecting her to be asleep, but she was awake writing a letter to her grandmother that she had promised to write but had forgotten. She would cry sometimes about these things, and I didn't have any answers for her.
Meanwhile, my friend asked me if I was going to the Illinois Christian Home Educators conference. I told her that it was the last weekend my husband was working (he is a teacher), so I couldn't come since I did not have someone to watch my kids. (Honestly, I didn't really want to pay for it, anyway, didn't want to make the 3-hour round trip twice over two days, and didn't want to go alone.) This very kind friend told her mother about me, and she invited my kids to her house so I could go to the conference. Seeing as how I would at least have someone to go with, I immediately accepted her offer and registered for the conference.
I then discovered that the conference was being held the weekend after my husband was done with school, and he would be available. As it turns out, I did not need my friend's mother to help. But were it not for her, I would have continued in my mistaken notion that it was at an inconvenient time and would not have gone.
I felt very strongly that I needed to attend a session called "The Distractible Child," as the description mentioned not only those kids that couldn't sit still, but also those kids that could sit still but were always in their own world. The latter was my Grasshopper. (It was a good thing it was not entitled "The ADD child," because I never would have gone.
When the session began, the speaker started by saying she had two kids that were ADHD, and I thought, "Oh, no! This is not going to be about my kid! She is not ADHD!" Well, I was wrong. While she is definitely not hyperactive, and may not even be ADD, there were enough similarities to pay good attention. I cried through the entire session, looking around wondering why I was the only one choking back tears. As I sat there, I knew that God had led me to this session. I am so excited at all things that I can do to help my Grasshopper--things she won't even realize I am doing for her. She won't know that I am putting a curtain in front of the sliding glass door so that she won't look out the window while she is doing school work. She won't know that I am buying a special chair for her to sit in that will help her not to fidget at the table, because both kids will get one. She won't know that I am keeping the table clear for her sake (to minimize distractions while doing school work), because I always try to do that. I will just be doing it better than before.
For anyone that is interested, the name of the speaker was Melissa Boring, and she has a website called Heads Up Now!. I bought a weighted kitty, which is a 4-lb. stuffed animal that she can hold in her lap while she is doing her school work and is supposed to help to remind her to stay in her seat. We are also going to come up with some small, quiet items that she can fidget with while she is doing school. Apparently, this helps some distractible kids to focus better. We won't be needing all of these things until August, but I will let you all know how it goes!