Last week, I found a note from Henry’s preschool teacher tucked away in my desk. As I read it, my heart quickened. I remember that feeling of getting notes and calls home. “Can you talk with Henry?” she’d say, about crawling under tables/running with scissors/drawing on the floor/hugging his friends too hard/sitting on kids who angered him/encouraging his classmates to eat a paper cupcake liner (yes, I agree, that was a ridiculous reason to call me). Pre-K was a terrible, no good, very bad year of school and one of my greatest regrets as a mother is not pulling him out of the program mid-year despite our contract.
My son has ADHD. I’ve written about it before. We control it with medication and intermittent therapy when needed. Some days are still hard. His fuse is short with his siblings and with us. He doesn’t gracefully accept changes to the plan. He is loud and agitated especially when family or friends come to visit.
But look how far he’s come. He loves math and reading. He runs with his dad in the mornings, dusting a mile. He pays attention to sermons in church, often writing notes. He adores his little sister and is her first request for a playmate. He transitioned to a new school beautifully this year. He seems least upset of all the children about the stay at home order, spending his free hours outside fighting imaginary battles in the backyard. He loves to work with his hands.
A grandparent sees a child after a few months and remarks how tall they’ve gotten, while the parent is clueless to the near inch of growth that’s happened under their nose.
A mother finds a letter from a terrible year of school and realizes how much has progressed positively with time, therapy and prayer.
Perhaps keeping that letter was a hope against hope that I could look back one day and see how far we’d come. Perhaps I had to believe that growth was possible.
Maybe that’s all parenting is: moving from one phase to another with endurance and hope, and reaching back to encourage others, wide-eyed and bewildered, just a few steps behind.