Bad-ass mothering

“That truck is carrying some bad-ass chemicals,” announced my son on the way to school this morning.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“The rating on the side of the truck, Mom. It’s an eight. That’s a highly acidic substance.”

“And how do you know THAT?” I asked.

“We covered acidity/alkalinity in a science unit.”

Ah. And right there, he tipped his hand.

My oldest son has ADHD. He is quite bright but being a student is not his favorite profession. He learns best by hands-on doing, which he feels is far more practical than any book learning his teachers can offer.myths_about_adhd

He is, I’m sure, the reason some may tear their hair out from time to time. A bright boy who doesn’t necessarily see the real-life value in “someone else’s subjective evaluation” of what he knows.

He appears to have the innate ability to tune out what he considers noise (which could be what he needs to know for tomorrow’s test).

However, comments like this morning’s give me a glimpse into the man he may one day become. He has an interest in science and he learns, despite not always being able or willing to regurgitate that learning on a test. He may not get the A but he gets “it.” If he happens to be interested in whatever of-the-moment topic “it” is.

I guess if I had to choose between the child that gets As but retains knowledge only for a test (and then promptly dismisses it for the next set of facts) and a child that may not care about showing you how much he knows for your test but retains info because he is truly interested, I’d pick the latter. True learning trumps cramming to get the A.

But it doesn’t always get you very far in life. We’re set up to measure how high you jump. We don’t really care if jumping is your “thing” or not.

I was disheartened last night because I felt my son was learning the hard way yet again. And I can’t stop him from doing so—whether in school, or the school of life. And yet, I’ve talked to him in the past about being open to life, to new experiences, even if they’re not ones he feels passionate about. That sometimes what is rather mundane at first blush becomes exciting when you dig a bit deeper.  Other times, you just have to power through what might not be the most compelling task. You dig deep and get through it.earbud

I was sure he was not listening. Earbuds in, eyes cast on his computer, with barely a nod.

And yet, this morning, I overheard him lecturing his younger brother. “Why are you complaining about having to go to school today? Why are you assuming it will not be a good day? Assuming makes a bleep out of you and me. Did you know that? If you just would approach the day with an open mind, you might find it’s exciting. And something good will happen.”

I smiled to myself.

“That boy is carrying inside of him some bad-ass learning,” I said to myself.

How do I know that?

Certainly not from anything I learned in school.

Instead, from watching a teenaged boy covertly soak in knowledge that may not make him a valedictorian.

But that will help him in the school of life.

For this, I pat myself on the back.

It’s so rare that I am afforded an opportunity to do that.

But for today, I’m a bad-ass mom.

I’ll take it.




8 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    grabbing an oar as we seem to be rowing the same boat. Add for my son ADHA and being “on the spectrum” with Asperger’s … makes for an interesting road – thanks for affirming your and my bad ass selves! Well said and oh if we could only go back to how WE were taught – with passion for learning and discovery not just rote memory for the test!

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you on the methods of teaching. My children are lucky to go to a wonderful school–and it has made all the difference. But, I have yet to find a school made for bright kids who may have learning exceptions. We have a long way to go in that respect . . .

  2. Thank you for this, Kay. Thoughtful and interesting. Bless you – and your son.

  3. There is so much more to our children than those dumb test scores, and clearly your son is an example of that. Give yourself another pat on the back!

  4. ygabriel says:

    Your son is my son…I think I have said that to you before. My son is 18 now…don’t you worry, your son will be a bad ass at the things he loves and that is all he needs! My son kicks ass at the things he loves and he now gets accolades from teachers and community members who see it! You just wait, he will be amazing!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, you sweet thing. Those days seem far away at times, but I believe you. And I can’t wait until he sees how truly capable he is in his areas of talent.

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