ADHD and the awful mummy


At this very moment I feel like throwing my dummy out of the cot.

Or crying into a rather large bucket.

Or taking an axe and chopping random things up.

Or just having a really, big, massive, enormous hug. And a schnapps.

Why? It’s homework again. And it’s not working. Despite the increase in Ritalin. Despite breaks. Despite having sat in the same room with him for more than three hours.

The table has been continually head-butted. Tears have streamed. Disturbed scratching has been observed. The throwing and hiding of work materials has taken place. Lying on the table, complaining, scribbling and continuous fidgeting have taken over the afternoon.

I have encouraged, answered questions, offered rewards, called Papa and I have really, really tried to stay calm but in an instant my patience left me and I exploded.

I told him to leave the homework, leave the table, leave the room.

To sit in his room, read a book, do whatever he wants except play on the Wii (as was the agreed reward for actually doing the work set for him).

Now any professional would no doubt tell me I’m doing it all wrong. And I probably am.

I am annoyed. Very annoyed. I am upset. Positively distressed.

If I never saw a piece of homework ever again, it would be too soon.

I hate homework more than that poor kid does.

To be honest, I would happily cut up all of the exercise books and all of the sheets and pop them into an envelope, with a little note:

Dear Teacher,
From this moment on all homework is banned!
Yours tumultuously,
Sarsm

Of course, I’m too compliant to actually do that. More’s the pity. Although, evidently not everyone thinks so. A teacher with whom I found myself in an argument with, recently informed me that my son is, “Let off with far too much!” in her opinion.

Don’t worry. I made it quite clear I don’t give two hoots about her viewpoint.

Some days I feel like I can deal with my sons ADHD reasonably well. Others I just feel like shit.

Shit motivator. Shit educator. Shit negotiator. Shit pacifier.

Today has been one of those other days. Unfortunately.

The light in the deep, dark tunnel is flickering though. He came downstairs and apologised to me. Sat back at the table for around 45 minutes, struggling to keep focus and completed the 8 remaining sums. Of course, he also looked continuously out of the window, babbled like a hyperactive Mr Chatterbox and stabbed himself with a pencil.

But by night-time, his work was complete. And of his own free will.

Well, with a little stimulation from a well-known friend.

Thank you Nintendo for the invention of the Wii.

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27 thoughts on “ADHD and the awful mummy”

  1. Very sorry to hear about your stress with the homework situation. My oldest daughter has Asperger syndrome (as well as other health issues) and struggled with schoolwork for years. All the professionals can give their opinions & advice, but you have to do what works best for you and your son.

  2. Oh dear Sarah, you are only HUMAN! And sometimes things just are not nice, no fun and simply awful. We’d love to reason everything through with our kids, explain why we do something, why they have to do something. But sometimes it just won’t work and you know, it is alright to explode every now and then. To show you have reached the limits of your endurance. I think you did a great job today: you got him to do his homework after all. I salute you!
    ~Mar

    1. Thank you. I was pleased that he decided, off his own back, to return to the work.
      However, I think I could have handled the situation better. But like you say, sometimes you reach your limits.

      Still, tomorrow’s a new day. Hopefully a better one!

  3. Ow. I really felt along with you on this one. What a nightmare. But it’s done now, so well done both of you. And stop beating yourself over the head by evaluating ‘how good a mummy’ you are. Most of us just do the best we can to get through (even with a child who doesn’t have the problems yours does). And it sounds to me as if you are doing much better than that. F**k what a professional might have said. You were there and the result was that he apologised and did his homework. Brilliant parenting, I’d say!

  4. Doesn’t he have modified assignments…by that I mean once he demostrates that he understands the task (whatever operator they’re working on in school) the assignment is considered complete. I’ve never found that ‘drill and kill” have ever aided comprehension.

    1. At times he’s given less homework than the other children. That’s only happened this year, the previous four years he was expected to complete the same tasks as the other children (and is part of the reason the other teacher I mentioned in the post made the comment).

      He attends a special class for his dyslexia and because he can’t concentrate until the end of a test he’s given shorter tests or dictations with spaces to fill rather than a complete text.

      But in general, there’s not much learning tailored to the ability/circumstances of the child. I’m hoping that will be much different in the new school, which he’ll start in September.

      The main issue for him is writing. He detests it. And the worst thing possible for him is having to copy out a text. But it’s often what his homework is.
      Very uninspiring.

      On the other hand, if I have the time (and my patience in tact) I can work with him in more practical areas, where he’s reading, writing and doing maths, enjoying it and also profiting from it.

      For example he loves cooking. To follow a recipe requires reading, maths and concentration. Or we’ll play dominoes and he’ll write down and tot up the scores. Or he could write up a shopping list, have his own trolley and find the correct items and return to me. Playing various types of memory games helps his concentration. I get him to act (and say out loud) functions in an empty space, with no props, and that helps him learn to plan. I like to help him learn to organise himself with special books we started to help him focus on what he has to do, or what he wants to do with his money (before that he would even throw money away).
      These are the types of things I want to do with him, because they really help him to cope with life.

  5. 😦 I have been told that my son is showing signs of ADHD (which I was also diagnosed with as a child) and can sooo relate to the homework thing. Something that should take five minutes takes an hour! (Because we are BOTH looking out the window!)

    Hang in there! x

    1. My ex-husband has ADHD. Around a third of his family has now been diagnosed.

      How old is your son? Do you have much support?

      Speaking to our new doctor, homework is one of the major issues for parents. The worst parts for me are when he hits his head on the table in desperation and when he’s crying. It really unnerves me, and I try to patiently ignore it but…

      You’d think I’d be used to the head-butting by now, he’s been using it for years as a sign of his frustration. (walls/floors/tables/door frames):-(

      1. He is 7. They won’t test until he is at least 8. Daniel used to do the head-butting thing when he was little, it used to terrify me so I can understand your being unnerved by it!

      2. You have no idea what damage they could be doing to themselves, do you?

        Aden got diagnosed aged 9. Before that doctors blamed the school system, teachers, thought he might be highly gifted. The list went on. All the best with Daniel, keep in touch x

  6. I’m sorry, did you ask for the Easy Life at the counter? No??
    LOL – you’ve got your hands full and then some (((huge hugs))) for the most capable woman/juggler I know xx

  7. Thank you for your visit and comment. I’m so sorry for all you’re going through. My son didn’t have ADHD although he tells me he thinks he’s got the AD part. Even without the AD part he was a super challenge. I can relate to all you’re going through. It turned out OK for us. Our son is doing fine at last. Granted we had to wait until he was in his 20s before we could breathe a sigh of relief. However, it is possible.

    1. We all worry about the future for our children I guess, but some of us have more grounds for worrying than others. I’m glad it’s all worked out well for your son.
      I really hope our future will be a great big sigh of relief too 🙂

  8. Hi S,
    reading your post and all the comments make me realize how tough it is to be a mom!!! i am a mother of 2 kids, and my 7 year old can sometimes be sooooo tiring when it comes to homework (we had a huge fight today). I don’t know how to deal with this issue, and it is not getting better with age..? We all do our best… and you are a mother that cares. your son is lucky… Many mothers would rather ignore the whole thing and well forget about it… keep smiling, breath and hope for a better tomorrow!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment.
      Being a mother, I think, is the most rewarding and simultaneously the least rewarding job, if you know what I mean.

      I think there can be many different reasons for difficulties with homework. The work itself may be too much, too difficult, too boring. The child him/herself may have problems concentrating, be unmotivated, be tired… The list goes on.

      I spoke to teachers and health professionals a lot in the beginning and they all had very contradictory opinions. For instance, the school specifies that each child should have their own desk in say, their bedroom and sit there quietly doing homework independently. Although I have seen many desks in many households, I have also seen many children sitting at the dining table with their mothers. I told various teachers and even the headmaster this, but they disagreed with the whole principal. Problem was at a quiet desk my son did no work at all.

      Because of this, I of course, stayed on top of him. Then a teacher blamed me for him not being able to concentrate in class. She told me I was the direct cause because I supported him with his homework.

      The psychiatrist office we first attended stated, that under no circumstances should an ADHD child be left alone with homework. He should be at the dining table and I should be next to him, and that various exercises should be completed before even starting the homework. Like him reading through the whole piece of work before starting. Then discussing what’s to be done. Then every 15 minutes a break. Each piece of work to be read through by the child and corrected by the child. Perhaps this doesn’t sound too bad in theory, but in practice it prolonged the whole process so much that it became even more unbearable.
      And it didn’t make any allowance for my then two-year-old.

      I think like a previous reader said, you have to find what works for you and your child, what fits your circumstances. I still haven’t got it all sorted. I find I deal with one issue, have that under my belt and another raises it’s head. Sometimes we go backwards to an issue which I thought had already been resolved.

      Hard work, just like you say.

      1. wow! hard work indeed… and it does not stop, does it? today we are having a good day… “homeworkswise”… probably tomorrow someone will end up crying (me or him!).. that is life and hopefully it gets better… lots of positive thoughts your way…

      2. We had a good day yesterday too. And today is Friday so I’m leaving homework for my husband to deal with at the weekend.
        I could not count how many times I have cried over homework. Horrible. You are not alone.

        Does your son have problems at school too?

      3. hello again, weekends are good!!! Georges is doing ok at school, ups and downs, but we mainly have problems in arabic (we live in beirut), and it is a very difficult language…yesterday he came home with a very good paper (managed to do most of it right) so i showered him with compliments and he beemed, then we sat down and he started doing his arabic lessons first (never happens!!).. i guess these little ones need ALOT of reassurance and compliments…:)

      4. I think what you describe, is a very good sign. Language difficulties always make a big impression on homework. We moved to Germany from Britain and the children really struggled for a long time (as did I) and I’m sure German is pretty easy compared to Arabic.

        My sons ADHD was not taken seriously at first, as was my daughter’s dyslexia, because professionals blamed the language difficulties.

        It strikes me that you mention positive reinforcement helps with your son. With my three other children it works wonders, but with my son it’s a different story. Sometimes it makes an impact, but often not and I wonder if that’s what other parents of ADHD children have found?

  9. Oh wow – reading this is like going back 16 years in my life. I dont ever want to redo those 16 years again. I remember sitting there in tears no knowing what to do.
    I used to see people with children who had finished school and wonder if I would ever get there.
    My boy is now 22. He still struggles with his ADHD but boy am I glad that school is out!

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