I bring a dozen, hot-out-of-the-oven Krispy Kreme donuts to the school meeting, because donuts make allies and I have read what can happen to the ADHD children whose mothers who do not foster allies at school. When everyone is seated and happily chewing donuts, I make my announcement.
“We are having Dora assessed for ADHD, the combination type, both hyperactivity and distractibility.”
“That makes sense,” the Learning and Development Specialist says, nodding. I’m not sure what response I was expecting from her, but that was not it. I will reflect on her response many times in the months to come. If it makes so much sense, why not tip a mother off earlier?
On the other hand, Dora’s fourth grade teacher seems completely surprised. “Really? I don’t think she has ADHD. I have seen Dora focus on her Passion Project for longer than any of the other kids. And she sits and reads sometimes all during recess –.”
The Learning and Development Specialist jumps in, “– Actually, that’s a classic hallmark of ADHD, the ability to hyper-focus for long periods of time on things that interest them.”
“It is?” asks Dora’s teacher, who holds a graduate degree in Education from Columbia University.
“Yes.” I add. I don’t mean to dog pile, but I can’t help myself. “You’ll notice she mostly reads only graphic novels. And watch how she reads the novels; she reads a little at the beginning, then she skips to the end, then back to the beginning, then to the middle.”
I slide a copy of the list of ADHD symptoms across the table to her. “Here’s the full list of symptoms.”
Dora’s teacher, having just been schooled as it were, nods silently in response and scans the paper. I almost feel bad for her. Almost.
The school counselor, a doe-eyed woman with a kind face, pipes up. “The last time we met about Dora was what – first grade? There was some mention of tics at that time. So what about her tics, are you exploring that avenue in more detail?
How odd that she’s asking about tics, I think. That was such a long time ago, and they were so mild. I decide to feel sorry for her because clearly she doesn’t know what else to say.
Tics are the last thing on my mind right now, I say, in a much nicer way than that.
Everyone agrees that the best approach is to take it easy on Dora until we have the results of her assessment, which I agree to share with them. I thank them more profusely than necessary (remember: allies), and the meeting ends ten minutes early. David stops me from sending meeting minutes afterward,“That might be overkill,” he suggests gently.
“Well, in any case, we have the minutes in case we need them,” I say, feeling both confident and ridiculous.
Christmas is the other thing that happens during the five-week waiting period.
I hire our usual photographer to capture our usual holiday photo of our family looking effortlessly competent, outdoorsy, and spiritually content. I am a wildebeest before the shoot. I wake up with a headache, Dora refuses to comb her hair and we end up getting lost because we have never been to the park I selected for our organic family backdrop.
When we finally arrive, Dora is promised an M&M if she will comb her hair, then an M&M every time she smiles. If she remains relatively still she can climb that tree when we’re done. I send the resulting carefully selected, digitally enhanced family photo along with our best wishes for a joyous holiday season to one hundred and seventy of our family and friends.
We receive similar photo cards in return from every other family we know. David wonders aloud why we’re not displaying Christmas cards around the house this year and I tell him I’m too busy but really it’s because I hate everyone and their stupid perfect families.
And their little dogs, too.