My son. My beautiful 8-year-old son — with a smile as big as Texas, eyelashes that most women would kill for and a flawless complexion that is wonderful to touch.
He's perfect — perfect, perfect, perfect. Okay, so I'm biased...But then what mother doesn't think that her child is perfect?
The truth is, I buried the notion of the "perfect" child when my son Aaron was diagnosed at age 4 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neurological syndrome — believed to be transmitted genetically — characterized by distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness.
To be sure, the diagnosis was a blow. I'll never forget the doctor's words: "Aaron has severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He'll never make it in a regular school. Be prepared to send him to a special school."
I was stunned by and angry with the diagnosis — and with the doctor who delivered it. As I drove home that day I thought: "How is it that my son isn't perfect? What kind of special school?"
In the days that followed, I tried to come to terms with the fact that my son had what I didn't want to acknowledge: a disability. My mind was flooded with questions: Did my son really have ADHD? Would he really have to go to a special school? Would his teachers like him? Would he have any friends?
Bury the Perfect Child
And then I picked up a book (one of many I've since read on ADHD) that gave me comfort and insight — and most importantly, hope. "ADHD," the book said, "is not the end of the world. Many children with this condition go on to enjoy successful lives. The first thing you must do," the book instructed, "is to bury the notion of the perfect child. There is no such thing."
Those few words were powerful. They helped me reframe the situation, if you will, and still provide me with a measure of comfort.
In the years since my son's diagnosis I've learned a great deal about ADHD. I came to understand, for example, that ADHD isn't a static condition and, for that reason, I've been open to adjusting our course of action and redefining our coping strategies.