I WISH I HAD A TRUCK BRAIN
Our decision to homeschool didn’t take long once the idea was in our heads. We needed a modern solution to an outdated social standard and homeschool was it (private school was the runner up, but it shared many of the same problems as public schools. This topic is discussed elsewhere, and if you’re not convinced public school is outdated and potentially harmful, I’ll convince you (please make note: I do not, in ANY way, criticize parents who use public school, nor do I criticize school teachers. I strongly support both, but one can still support those trapped in the system while hating the system).
As a bit of background, we refer to Kallan’s active brain as a shiny race car — beautiful, powerful, and able to take turns that would cause any other brain to sail off the edge of the cliff. The problem: He lacks breaks (this analogy was stolen from Dr. Hallowell, an expert in ADHD). My brain, however, is a large, somewhat rusty truck which putters along but can store an amazing amount of material. It may not be economical or standard, but I’ll take my family’s race cars and trucks over all the sedans jamming up the streets.
Anyway, a mere four months into the public K curriculum we knew there was a problem. Our son’s self-confidence started to plummet, and we heard comments he had never uttered before:
“Mommy, I’m just not as smart as the other kids.”
I realize I may be biased, but frankly, our son is a fucking genius who sees the world in a unique way. Frankly, I envy his ability to see the world through such creative glasses. Want evidence? Here is a ghost robot he invented shortly after turning two years old. Yeah, it's just DUPLO bricks with wet wipes smashed between them, but even at two he understood the idea of construction; robotics; white bed sheets and their ghostly stereotypes; and the knowledge different elements could blend together to create something new. Damn it, I was proud of his ghost robot! I had given birth to a GENIUS!!
Yet, after this short stint in Kindergarten, Kallan was no longer the forever-smiles kid. This was not the teacher's fault - she was lovely. It was not the administration's fault - they were more than happy to work with us. The problem was the system...testing, sitting, and extended periods of quiet time were complete agony to our son. He confessed that he couldn't focus on the teacher because there was "so much going on," and he was embarrassed when he didn't know what was going on and all the other students seemed to "get it." After a four month trial, we could no longer endure his self-defamation. But when to start homeschooling? Should we wait until the end of the year? This seemed reasonable at first, until my son dropped a ton of bricks on me.
“Mommy, I don’t like my race car brain. I wish I had a truck brain like you.”
That was the moment the decision to homeschool was made. We would not allow our son to feel inferior simply because schools pattern the day around imaginary constructs called grades and unnecessary methods of scoring via tests. Naturally, Kallan’s internalized shame hit my husband hard, as he can relate to Kallan more than anyone else in the family. My husband - who was not diagnosed until he was in his 30s - knew how it felt to be told you can’t keep up with the others, especially when you’re bursting at the seams with brilliant ideas in a constant state of restraint.
Shortly after Kallan verbalized his wish for a truck brain, my husband wrote the following poem (from Kallan's perspective). Yeah, it's heart-breaking. But the next time someone tells you "ADHD isn't real," you can show them this (instead of punching them in the solar plexus).
“I Wish I had a Truck Brain”
They say my brain is special,
I think faster than the rest.
Daddy thinks like me,
But Mommy’s is the best.
She can study really hard;
She can memorize.
When I sit down to study,
I’m completely paralyzed.
They say if I “just slow down,”
Enough to learn this thing…
But that’s just it! I can’t slow down.
I want to play and swing.
I want to learn like all the rest,
I hate my race car brain.
Why can’t I be normal?
Why suffer through this pain?
They say my brain is special,
Not some sadistic jest.
But I wish I had a normal brain,
‘Cause Mommy’s is the best.
–Written by ROBERT REN.
I'm not crying! You're crying!