Today you are eighty-two months old.
It’s been a very exciting month. A lot of our family’s time and mental energy is going towards Operation: New House, which means that we have gone out to see some open houses for sale, and we have also been working to get our house ready to sell. It’s been really neat to work on these things as a family, with you as a real participant. As we set out one weekend to go see another open house, you happily told me, “Don’t worry, Mom. I know the ex-patations of visiting an open house.” And you sure do love picking out which room would be yours, and giving us your feedback on the house and yard, and so on. You’ve even been co-operative and helpful in the efforts to put a huge amount of our possessions – including yours – into storage, so that our house will be clean and uncluttered for potential buyers.
You’ve been on your ADHD medication for six weeks now, and my, what a difference. You are just so much less intense now, able to transition smoothly from one activity to another, able to focus on a task without constant intervention and redirection, able to accept disappointment and frustration and work through them without pitching a fit, able to work independently and effectively, and so much more. At the same time, you are no less joyful, creative, exuberant, or hilarious. We were recently reading “My Brain Needs Glasses”, a book for kids about ADHD. The narrator, a child with ADHD, says “I get distracted by noises, and also by my own thoughts. It's really hard to concentrate!" I asked you if you still feel that way since starting medication. "I don't get distracted any more at all, I just sit and do my work. The only thing that distracts me is if someone is talking to me. Then I just answer them and go back to my work." I asked, “Does it make your life easier, to be able to concentrate like that?” You replied, "WAAAAYYYYY easier!” It made me so happy to know that you are feeling the difference too.
Even better, the medication has not produced any unpleasant side effects (knock on wood) and, with a recent switch to morning dose instead of evening dose, your sleep schedule is improving as well. I am very happy to say that you have gone to sleep without melatonin for the past week, and that you are able to fall asleep around 8pm instead of the previous weeks’ time of 9pm, 10pm, or even later. Hooray for sleep!
It’s hard to believe that your Grade One year is halfway over. Your homework has certainly increased over the past month or so; you have a book bag with three books you are supposed to read every week, and you are having weekly spelling tests that you need to study for. Unfortunately, with our busy family schedule, it’s incredibly hard to find time to fit all these things in (we do read together every night, but you don’t always want to spend that brief time reading the books you ‘have to’ read, preferring to choose your own). I admit I am particularly baffled about how to help you with your spelling. Spelling comes very very easily to me, and I rarely have to think at all about how to spell something. Which means I have no idea how to teach YOU how to spell, because, y’know, you should just SPELL! For a language-loving English major like me, seeing your spelling scores of 4 out of 12 just makes my stomach drop, so we’re going to have to sort this out. So far, the only strategy I’ve figured out is to print the words in large print and put them on the wall near your bed, so you can see them as you’re trying to fall asleep, but this approach doesn’t seem to improve your score much. More strategies to come!
The other side of your school experience is, of course, the social aspect. There is a child in your class (code-name Amy) who is making your life pretty difficult in this area. She’s not bullying you per se, but she is attention-seeking and manipulative and doesn’t seem to know how to be a good friend (even though it seems that she wants to). It’s very hard to know what strategies to encourage you to use when Amy starts pushing your buttons. If you ignore her, she starts crying and lies to the teacher that you hurt her; if you engage with her, she keeps pushing and pushing you until you do something hurtful (with words or hands) and then the teacher puts you in a time-out; if you walk away from her, she follows you. The teacher is aware of the situation and is trying to figure out the best solution for everyone.
These days your favourite hobby is playing “Just Dance” on the Wii, and you have also become very aware of pop music and love to sing along to the lyrics. It’s pretty funny to hear. And of course, every song you love is your “very favourite song ever in the world!!!”. Some of your favourites include Roar & Dark Horse (both by Katy Perry), and Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars.
You’ve been learning about kindness at Sunday School, where your teacher encouraged the kids (and their parents) to sign up and participate in The Coldest Night of the Year, a fundraiser for local charities that help the homeless. So last Saturday, you and I bundled up in our warmest clothes and walked 2km as part of our church team. It was pretty fun! Two kilometres is about as far as one should force a six-year-old to walk at one time, I think. I was very proud of you for participating in the event, and proud of you for calling your grandparents to solicit donations. You and I raised $120 to help the homeless in Nanaimo – our team raised a total of $670, and over $30,000 was raised in all of Nanaimo. Pretty cool!
As always, Gwen, we are so proud of you and love you so much. You are such a fun kid and it’s a treat to be your mom. You are my BFF!