I mentioned that I’m pursuing an ADHD diagnosis. One of the things they need to make a diagnosis of adult ADHD is that it started in childhood. Also, people with ADHD tend to have poor memory, which can make it harder to determine when symptoms started. So, I went looking for old report cards, which I imagined might help.
One of the advantages of being a packrat, and having a mom who’s a packrat, is that I still have all of my grades and assessments from school, going nearly all the way back. (I also have my polywog certificate from some attempt to teach me to swim and more participation certificates than I can count. It was the 80s.) I skimmed them all, looking for the ones that point out that I’m an underachiever, that I’m smart but don’t do the work. I found them, and I think they paint a pretty clear picture of my lack of executive function going all the way back.
What they also show is grumpy teachers who seem to believe that telling me should’ve been enough to solve this problem, and I’m just willfully troublesome. One of them even cited that she’d asked me why I hadn’t done the work, and I’d said that I don’t like doing it. It’s hard to read tone of voice on paper, but I felt her outrage steaming off the page. How dare a child refuse to do work just because she doesn’t like it?
Now that I’m an adult, I have a pretty dim view of adults who let their grumpiness get the better of them in the face of children not doing what they want. Who’s the adult here? Who’s teaching whom? Are they teaching, or demanding?
I do realize that most teachers aren’t taught to handle the wide range of learning styles of actual children. And I also realize that our school system is based on an antiquated British school system that had one single goal: to create excellent British bureaucrats, and weed out students who couldn’t be that1. It wasn’t intended to actually teach everyone, despite the fact that that’s how we’re using it now. I should cut her some slack.
However. Reading those report cards and notes to my parents, I feel angry, upset, frustrated. I feel like a little girl who understands how the world works, and here are these adults telling me it works some other way entirely and being angry about it.
It feels like gaslighting.
I realize I haven’t worked with my difficult school experience much. I’ve done a lot of work with my feelings about my parents’ divorce and with my fear of failure, but I can’t remember so much of school, I just haven’t thought about it or felt it. Today I’m feeling it.
The good news is I have an appointment with a psychologist in a couple of weeks, to get a diagnosis (of ADHD or whatever else), and hopefully start helping me work through that old trauma. And I meditate, and have heart center, and I can bring love and healing to the young me who was repeatedly told she was wrong. And I’m allowed to be pissed about it, if that’s what I’m feeling.
1 I’m pretty sure my source is from an excellent episode of the TED Radio Hour, “Building a Better Classroom”:https://www.npr.org/2012/06/22/155224654/building-a-better-classroom