Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I had the opportunity to speak at a homeschooling conference in Michigan over the weekend, and one of the questions I was asked was "How can you be so happy and continue working with such distractible kids?" I've had my share of discouragement and anxiety, and wouldn't think of myself as exuding happiness, yet I've found that the perspective I have makes all the difference to my contentment or lack thereof. I used to labor over teaching my AD/HD son, watching hours of my life go by as he managed to stretch a 20 minute assignment into a two hour assignment - again. His distractibility often pulled us both off course, and my need to accomplish certain tasks in a timely manner was repeatedly thwarted. The frustration was constant and intense. One day, as I reminded myself that Josh wasn't deliberately trying to drive me nuts (although he couldn't have picked a better method if he was) I realized that Josh really couldn't meet the goals that were set for him. His difficulty with schoolwork was obvious, but I realized for the first time that Josh couldn't even meet the goals he set for himself. He was constantly faced with disappointing others with his inability to comply with their agenda, and he was continually faced with his inability to complete even his own personal plans. As frustrating and exhausting as it was for me to try and work with Josh hour after hour, it couldn't be much fun for him when there were many other things he would rather be doing. Most of us would hurry to complete less enjoyable work if it meant we could then pursue more favorable activities. But Josh never did that. He couldn't do that. I had a moment of insight that helped me through the frustrations I felt so often when working with Josh. It was the simple thought "The only thing more frustrating than trying to teach Josh right now would be to BE Josh right now." That freed me up and gave me the extra measure of patience I needed to hang in there with Josh and not give up or take my frustrations out on him.