This is a long one… bear with me.
As our eldest son (Jon) has been growing up, my husband & I always wondered if he would get into any extracurricular activities. When he was a toddler, we thought it would be soccer. He loved kicking that ball in the backyard. But when it came to taking lessons, he didn’t want anything to do with rules and strategies, he just wanted to kick the ball and run.
So we waited. In elementary school he was very fidgety and could never sit still. He had so much energy and we thought. “Maybe baseball. His friends play baseball, maybe he would too.” But no, he had no interest. He waited for his friends to get home from practice and then they would all meet up outside to ride bikes and run around.
Okay, maybe football in middle school. At one point, he was interested and we almost signed him up. But the interest faded and that idea just blew away in the Whidbey wind. Guess we’ll wait some more and see if something sparks later on.
But first, a roadblock. It was in his middle school years that we noticed something was happening. Like I mentioned before, he was always very fidgety and would never sit still. His hands were always moving, mind was alway busy, sleep was almost nonexistent. But now he was really having a hard time concentrating and his grades were dipping and so was his spark to play and enjoy life. He was also being bullied. He was very thin and small and lacked any confidence to fight back. He was hesitant to go to school and just hated it. And his eczema was flaring up due to the stress. His arms and back were full of cuts and scratches because the itching was so bad that he would bleed. He never wore short sleeved shirts and would only let me see it to put ointment on it.
During his 8th grade year he hit a wall. He was struggling to communicate, struggling to understand what was happening and why he couldn’t be a normal kid. My heart broke for him as I tried to talk to him and help him. It wasn’t until a teacher happened to catch a glimpse of one of his arms that took down a new journey. A journey that we had actually been through when he was in the 3rd grade, the road to a ADHD diagnosis. But in the 3rd grade, we were told that he did not have ADHD. Because we didn’t know very much, we never questioned the doctor and never thought of it again. We stuck with what worked at home: routines and a firm hand. But now, in the 8th grade, it’s all different. He is a different.
After the teacher saw his arm, she was very concerned. I received numerous calls, requests to come in to meet… and I did. They were surprised to know that I was aware of it and as we spoke about his history they suggested to go and get tested again. And so I did. I filled out the paperwork, waited for the teachers’ paperwork, turned it all in and made the appointment for him.
This time he was diagnosed. He has ADHD with insomnia and anxiety. Let me tell you, this was not easy for me. I was not relieved to have this diagnosis. As a parent, I had always had the firm hand with discipline because I always thought he was just being a rebellious, stubborn child. I felt so much guilt. Although I did a lot of things right, I also did a lot of things wrong. I immediately began to learn more about ADHD. Reading and reading and having lots of the “aha” moments.
Almost three years later, here we are. Three years of changes made in our diet, our environment, our teaching at home, our listening skills, our thinking skills and communicating have brought us here. (He did not want medication, so we had to do it naturally) He is in his second year of Oak Harbor High School’s NJROTC. His first year (9th grade), he laid low. He was still the little guy and so he just enjoyed being in the ranks. But now, he is quite involved. He has found that spark. He is part of the Orienteering Team, the Armed Drill Team and also practices with the Color Guard. He is a B student with future goals for college. He is wearing SHORT SLEEVED SHIRTS. I know it sounds so little and unimportant, but this is something that makes me cry. He still has the scars on his arms, but there is no shame, no hiding. If people ask, he tells them his story.
Every weekend since November, we have been traveling with him to meet his teams for competitions. Two different teams, every switching off each weekend. We leave early in the morning and get home late in the evening. And I am loving every moment of it. For pretty much all of them, I literally left my camera at home on purpose. Because I just wanted to watch. To just watch him doing something he loves. To see him motivated and focused. To remember the journey we have been on and the new journey he is on. He is able to get his need to fidget out of his system by twirling and tossing his rifle and I have my boy back.
If you live in our local area, he will be competing tomorrow. His school, Oak Harbor High School is hosting the competition. If you would like to come down and support him and his fellow teammates in all the competing categories, be there by 9:00am (that’s what time it starts). You may see me with my camera or you may not, I’m still trying to decide.
I took my camera to two weeks ago and although I took pictures throughout the whole day of the different teams and kids, here are some pics where I was focusing my son. If you are not sure which one is him… in the first image he is the 3rd guy from the right.