Sunday, March 11, 2012

The pay-off

It's no secret that Keller came into the world an intense, frenetic ball of boy.  He rolled over at 11 weeks, crawled at 5 months, walked at 9 1/2 months, and I'm fairly certain he climbed his first tree a week later.  He  is funny and goofy and often inappropriate.  He chews like a cow, for which he often earns an admonishment to "Quit 'chaw-ing'" from me.  He has been on both the giving and receiving ends of countless bloody noses and goose eggs.  And if I had a nickel for every exasperation-laden email I've received from one of his teachers, I'd be circling the world in a private jet right now, using dollar bills to blow my nose and gold coins to push back my cuticles.  Keeping up with Keller is a full-time job.

But he is also smart and generous.  He is sensitive and feels it deeply when he has hurt someone.  He still gives bedtime kisses and will even sneak me a quick kiss when he gets out of the car at the bus stop.  He wore his 'wedding outfit' to school on Friday, when his class was narrowing down their class officer nominations.  Yes, my sweet boy went to third grade "dressed for success" (his words) in a tie and vest, and although he didn't win the nomination, he graciously agreed to be the campaign manager for the boy he has had an intense rivalry with for the better part of the school year.  He has a sense of humor that far outpaces most kids his age.  He is willing to try just about anything once, which means that he gets to experience active endeavors like rock climbing, mountain biking, and adventure racing at an age when most kids have never even watched, let alone participated in the sports. 

It is hard, as his mom, to know that many people only see the less-than-glamorous parts of Keller, and miss out on the total picture.  I can't tell you how many times someone has made a comment that left me torn between defensively rattling off all of Keller's strengths, or just skipping that in favor of popping them in the mouth.  The day we walked into orientation for the Gifted & Talented center program at our old school in Virginia, I actually saw a few jaws drop.  I wanted to scream, "Yes, he's hyper and silly, but he's also really freaking smart. So there."  Instead, I settled for offering up a few really bitchy surprised exclamations of  "Oh, I didn't realize ______ was going to be in the program!"  

Every so often, though, he gets a chance to shine and surprise people who think they've seen all he has to offer.  For me, those moments are a bit of a pay-off for years of attempting to help Keller channel his energy, while giving him space to be himself and keep all of his unique Keller-ness intact.  Last week, Dave and I received an email from his teacher, who was awestruck by our boy's interaction with preschoolers when his class walked to the base daycare to read Dr. Seuss books for Read Across America day.  She said that she saw his sweet, nurturing side really shine through as she watched him read to the children, play with them, and do little acts of kindness, like tying a boy's shoe for him. 

So, without further ado. . .(ok, so there may be further ado. . .give the video a minute to load!)

I'd like to close by schooling everyone with a list of famous, successful people who have been blessed with the 'gift'of ADHD:

Ty Pennington  of Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Sir Richard Branson founder of Virgin (including Virgin Airlines, Virgin Records, and about 398 other companies), adventurer, and 4th wealthiest man in the UK

Jim Carrey comedian and actor

Michael Phelps swimmer who racked up 14 gold medals at the Athens and Beijing Olympics

Will Smith actor, singer, father

Justin Timberlake Grammy-winning singer, dancer, actor

Terry Bradshaw  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who led them to 4 Super Bowl wins

Paul Orfalea founder of Kinko's who also struggled with dyslexia and alleges that if No Child Left Behind had been around when he was a child, he'd still be in third grade :)

David Neeleman founder of JetBlue Airways

I cannot wait to see what my exuberant boy does with his many gifts.