I had a small skirmish over homework with my 11-year-old son Monday.
I hadn’t realized until then how peaceful life with Adam had been lately. Last year, World War III erupted on a routine basis over homework.
Adam has ADHD and anxiety. He’s explosive, impulsive and sometimes very difficult to parent. But he’s also sensitive, sweet and quick to forgive and forget.
Adam’s issues started surfacing in kindergarten but didn’t really come to a head until third grade. That was a rough year. We started seeing a psychologist, experimented with medications (many of which did more harm than good), and were in constant communication with school (notes came home from the teacher daily).
He was often down on himself because of behavior he couldn’t control; I was stressed out because I didn’t know how to help him, and the other kids in the family were feeling the affects.
But we persevered. Fourth grade had bumps but was better—calls from school decreased to once a week or fewer. Last year his impulsive behavior was almost under control, but homework was a true nightmare for us both. He didn’t want to do it. He procrastinated, argued, yelled and refused to focus. Most of the time, I took the bait and yelled back.
This year he was eligible for a homework club the school offers three afternoons a week for middle school students with learning and behavior issues. It’s been a beautiful thing. He loves getting the majority of his homework done before he gets home, and I love not having to be the homework Nazi.
On the two days there is no homework club, he’s been doing amazingly well at home. One recent Saturday morning, I woke up to find him doing his homework on his own, before breakfast, without being told. I was shocked and so proud of him.
So the little skirmish on Monday, which dissipated almost as fast as it flared, gave me a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come.
I don’t know if this year’s success has been just the natural course of maturity or if the homework club has shown him what he’s capable of, or if we’ve just been given a much-needed breather. I’m sure there will be bumps along the road ahead as puberty sets in and school gets harder. But watching him rise to the occasion of sixth grade and thrive in his first year of middle school, I know there is hope.
And if you have a child with ADHD, maybe our sixth grade story will give you hope too.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 13, Lilly, 11, Adam, 11, and Jonah, 7.