In all the years of struggling over homework with my son who has ADHD, I never once imagined how studying for exams might go.
And it’s probably a good thing.
I blocked the thought from my head until about a month ago when my oldest daughter asked how I planned to balance studying with all three of them when exam time came around. A sophomore, she pointed out that I hadn’t been much help to her last year, and that she might need more help this year. She wondered how I was going to balance the load now that the twins are in high school and would be having exams too.
My mind immediately skipped over the fact that I wasn’t helpful to her last year (which I didn’t put much stock in since she aced them all) to the idea that Adam would have exams. Yikes. I definitely hadn’t thought about the implications of that before. Luckily, their exams didn’t end up falling on the same week. Adam has exams this week and the girls will have them in January.
So now we are experiencing that which I blocked out of my mind.
Adam’s success in high school so far has been spotty. He started well but has been suffering lately. It’s becoming increasingly clear that he has no idea how to study.
About a month ago, I tried to get him to start preparing for exams — to make note cards, look over material taught in class every night and to make sure he understood what he was getting wrong on tests. But he’s a teenage boy, and I don’t know anything. So I knew we were going to have a rough time when it came to exams, and I was right.
Studying did not go well on Saturday. He got tired. He needed a break. He spent a couple of hours down at his friend’s house. When I got back from a swim meet Saturday evening, he was heading down for another visit with the neighbor. I let him go but after comparing notes with my husband, we called him back home and started studying again. He was not pleased. He needed a break. He has ADHD, he pointed out. It was the weekend, he added. He wanted some down time.
Then he got mad. We got mad. It wasn’t pretty parenting. Eventually he calmed down and we started making progress, right about when my husband and I were due to head out for a holiday party.
When the girls study, they hole up in their room and learn the material. They might come to us to quiz them, but they usually know it by then. With Adam, it was a different story. His exams have been a fulltime job for us. I’ve relearned how to conjugate verbs in Spanish and my husband is now an expert in genetics. It’s been exhausting.
But as the weekend progressed, Adam slowly came to the realization that exams require a lot of work. By Monday night, he was in the zone. He didn’t once ask to go to the neighbors. He seemed to be getting it.
I’m not sure how he will do on the exams. It’s clear he might need a little extra help to adjust to high school. But we are surviving the first round of exams with our son who has ADHD.
And hopefully, we’ve all learned something.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 15, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 10.