Me and son, Jackson at 2 1/2 years old.
Photo by camilynnephotography
Photo by camilynnephotography
My first son was born to me when I was not much more than a child myself. I felt so grown up at twenty, but today after attending my first day back at college in six years, it struck me just how young twenty really is. But ready or not, God sent me this boy and I needed him just as much as he needed me in order for us both to grow up.
When Jackson started sleeping in his own room at around five months, his cooing every morning served as a gentle wake up call. I would stagger out of bed and go into his room, greeting him with a smile and chipper, "Hey you!" as I swooped my baby into my arms. A month went by and our morning ritual proceeded as usual. Cooing. Staggering out of bed. A big smile and a "Hey you!" But I was shocked when my son replied back to me with a loud and clear, "Hey you!" just as if he were a little parakeet. I went to my child rearing books immediately to research when the average baby says their first words and six months wasn't even close. He continued to mimic my "Hey you!" from there on out as his vocabulary grew. I always had felt that my son was special, as most mothers do, but this was something unusual.
As he grew into toddlerhood, many adults commented on how impressive his vocabulary and ability to speak were. I always felt so proud, but inside I knew that I had nothing to do with it. I never spent time teaching him the alphabet, or eloquent words. His gift came prepackaged with his spirit. When he was three I noticed his ability to draw exceptionally well. Soon, he could draw with more detail and accuracy than even I could. Again people marveled, and I wondered how this was possible when I did not go to any special length to train him in the area of art.
When Jackson started school I expected that he would excel. The Glediator and I even wondered about having him tested to skip a grade. But things are not always what we expect them to be. Jackson had a difficult time focusing and even more surprising, fell behind the class in reading. Taking tests proved to be a challenge and my pride over my "genius" son was squashed. We worked on Jackson's challenges and praised his strengths at the same time.
Things seemed to improve for awhile. But his new third grade teachers called me in last week for a special parent/teacher conference. He is having a very difficult time focusing on simple tasks. If a set of three easy instructions are given, he will still be on number one, when the rest of the class is finished, and can't remember what number two is. He sketches dragons during classwork time, can't finish math on a first-grade level, disrupts lessons with a comedy routine, and tends to act like the leader of the pack.
I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think that this behavior might mean that Jackson has a leader's personality. He also has a creative personality and fabulous artistic abilities. He enjoys making people laugh. But after his teachers suggested I take him to get tested for a learning disability, I wonder if I should take this more seriously.
It's too soon to say whether or not this is very serious. He may just be adjusting to the structure of a classroom after such a lazy summer. But as I figure this out, I could use your help. How can I help my son without taking away the beautiful, natural born aspects of his personality? How can I help him behave appropriately in a structured environment? If any of you have been through a similar situation, or have studied childhood development, I am seeking your expertise. If you can recommend a book, a great pediatrician, or any ideas/advice, I welcome all of it. ("Birthathomemom," where are you these days?)