It’s Mid-Term time for high school students and that means…..lots of cramming, studying, raw nerves and sleepless nights. This is a difficult time for most students. The stress the kids are under is enormous. The pressure to do well, maintain that GPA, have excellent grades on their transcript so they get into “the” college, get “the” job and go off on their successful life with the spouse and kids and dog and cat. All of which will crumble if they don’t do well on their midterms. Right??
Ok, so what about the kids who don’t test well? What about the kids who have the learning disability? What about the kids who, like me, at age 16 have NO IDEA what they want to do for the rest of their life? It isn’t so easy, or clear-cut. And it is more stressful than you can possibly imagine.
Ryan has such a learning disability. I have chronicled his difficult birth and how we almost lost him. I have spoken about his extreme ADHD and how he was tested at such an early age that they wanted to use him as a test subject (we declined). But the learning disability is difficult for him. He doesn’t want to be different. He doesn’t want to be what he deems “the stupid one” of his friends. He doesn’t want to struggle with what comes so easily to others. But it’s his burden.
He makes up for up by clowning around. He’s the jokester, the prankster, the silly one. Part of that is because it is damned near impossible for the child to sit still, even on medication. Part of that is because it’s a cover. “If I’m funny, they won’t notice the D on my test. It won’t matter if I’m failing a class if I’m making everyone laugh.” I get it. Not everyone does. They see him as a disruption. A nuisance. That he doesn’t care. That…….that breaks MY heart. Because if you took any time at all to get to know him, really know him, you would know he cares more than you can imagine. And every time he hears someone make a comment like that, it cuts him to the quick.
It also sets up a potential “shame spiral” for him. Adults think he’s goofing off because he doesn’t care, he hears them label him as stupid or a disruption, then he figures the best way out of this is to act like a goofball and it doesn’t bother him that he was labeled a goofball, and around and around and around it goes.
So much of that thinking was all around him in elementary school and even to a degree in middle school. Starting in 8th grade, we were able to try to pull him out of what he was going through, and get him the help and direction the school could offer him and the support he needed.
But the stigma seems to follow him, because he is still the goof off. We try to make him see his worth, his potential, his amazing gifts he has to offer. To let him know that not everyone really does know what they want to do with their lives at 16. Some people don’t know what to do with their lives at 40-something!
So when it comes times for testing, the struggle I see him going through breaks my heart. But I know we have a great plan set up with his teaching group. But the stress and worry and sleeplessness and his inability to even eat is something else. As a mom, I want to take it away and make it better. But I also know he needs to do this, if for no other reason, to be able to look back on his high school career and know HE did it. No strings were pulled, no exemptions made.
But in the meantime, I’m really glad that this week is over. Now we can focus on Christmas and happiness. I think I’m going to bake, wrap and play some Carpenters Christmas music.