When I was a kid, I was very good at school. I learned to read very early, was in the gifted program, and was an ideal student. I was also a completely miserable child even though I may have been perceived otherwise. I had very few friends, was horribly bullied, and felt like a freak for enjoying to read more than playing with other children. I had very low self-esteem, felt ugly and lonely, and learned that being invisible was easier than being who I really was.
So, as successful as I seemed to the outside world, I was a mess of insecurity and shyness. That is what I remember from my childhood. I remember feeling isolated and sad and never quite finding a place of my own.
My son is the exact opposite. He is a difficult student, argumentative and combative. He struggles greatly with reading and would probably happily choose to be kicked in the crotch than have to read. He needs a lot of redirection to stay on task and often forgets what he’s supposed to be doing due to his tics. However, he has more friends at 9 years old than I have ever had and is a mostly happy kid with confidence and self-esteem most kids would love to have. He knows he’s badass and has accepted his tics as a part of him. You love him or you don’t. He doesn’t really mind either way.
I’m slowly coming to the realization that happiness and a strong sense of self is something I have the power to nurture in him. When we are having a difficult day, or he is not grasping a concept that is a grade level below where he should be, I need to step back and look at the larger picture. What do I want his childhood memories to be made of? Being brilliant but lonely? Or having fun and being content?
He will be free of the torture of battling bullies on the playground. He will be free of the stress of beating the clock during timed tests. He will not be measured and found lacking compared to his peers. He can just be who he is. And learn to be happy in this world. In his world.