Our second son lags twenty months, two school years and ten inches behind his older brother. I’m alternately pleased and dismayed that puberty seems to have forsaken this child. Other than the fact that he’s not exactly tall, he seems to be coping nicely with his smooth face, evenly modulated voice, and cool temper. Perhaps by the time the inevitable occurs, his advanced age will have more influence than the barrage of changing hormones. Pubescent or not, son #2 is going to high school next year. The thought brings me no comfort.
Early in his school career we noticed that the tendency to lose his place in the middle of a math problem. If “x” were defined at the top of the page, and the problem written at the bottom, confusion would ensue. Oftentimes, even if the problem were answered correctly, it was miscopied onto the answer sheet, or bubbled in the wrong spot. His math grade has traditionally been a wobbly C. Nonetheless, if attention holds long enough, he is quite mathematically inclined. And he knows it.
This mathematical ability gave our son the idea to register for Honors Geometry in high school. When he made his intentions known, his Algebra teacher and I weren’t sure what to do. Advanced Geometry at our high school is extremely fast paced, demands a lot of homework, and requires students to keep up. While we knew he has the intellectual capacity to understand the subject, both of us doubted his ability to absorb the daily lesson, record his homework accurately, maintain copious notes and notebooks, and remain focused through marathon homework sessions.
Even as I write this I am appalled out the lack of confidence I have in my son, and the callousness of his teacher for not encouraging him. But we’re only being realistic. Despite all the systems we currently have in place, there are still great difficulties with the quality of his work. He cannot copy a list of numbers accurately. He relies on the homework hotline and teacher website to ensure his homework is written down correctly. He often loses his notebooks and journals. He does the even problems when the odd ones are due. He asks his teacher or me to ‘re-teach’ quite often. He takes three hours to do homework that should only take one.
Still, neither of us had the heart to come right out and say, “You can’t do it. You’ll be frustrated, overwhelmed, and continually behind. Yes, you’re smart enough, but you have ADHD and you can’t!” How could we encourage this boy to reach for the best without setting him up for failure?
I still don’t have the answer to our question, because the question became moot. He forgot to turn in the form authorizing his application to the honors program, and thereby became ineligible.
I would feel enormously relieved were it not for the knot of disappointment in my stomach.