Illustration by Teesta Chakraborty
It is a normal day in school and I am excited to leave. The teacher announced that they will pass out report cards I was overwhelmed by my stress I decided to take a look because it was re-sealable and there was no tamper-evident design. The grades were very bad. No, this couldn’t be! I checked the back of the card and the name read “Mathew J. Mackey.”My parents are going to kill me! I spent the bus ride in anxiety.
When I got home, I was shaking harder than an old engine in need of maintenance. My parents will be so angry that it will not make a difference if I gave the card gently rather than throwing the card across the room, which I did. I immediately rushed to my room and scrambled to lock the door. I lay in my bed and get startled to a sound. It was keys jingling, the door handle turned. My parents barged in. I knew I was doomed.
My dad was about to hit me with his belt. But my mom intervened and said No He will have bruises and as soon as the school finds out, they will call child protective services and next thing you know, the police are at our door My parents grounded me. And my dad hollered “you are grounded until the next quarter because of your bad grades and just refusing to focus. And at the end of the quarter, those grades better be up if you want to get your privileges back.’’
I was devastated. This means no devices, no hanging out with friends, only going outside if I have to exercise, and my only entertainment is toys only after doing homework If I am doing something before homework, it has to be chores or just stay in my room. It is hard to stand 1 day and very irritating to go 1 week and I can’t even imagine 10 weeks. I was devastated.
The next day of school my parent’s punishment was so extreme that they drove me to school so I couldn’t interact with friends. My mom called the school and asked if they can restrict me from interacting with one another. Thankfully my school refused. The car ride consisted of my mom yelling at me throughout the ride. I arrived 15 minutes early and I told the teacher about what has been happening. She said just to talk to the counselor. I went there and I told her all the things that happened about my grades. She said that I might have ADHD and should talk to a doctor. What is ADHD? Is it a sickness?
My teacher wasn’t a nice teacher. She would be very strict and always mean. She would always send me to the principal’s office. My second-grade teacher wasn’t that bad and was very nice. A few days later, I had a doctor’s checkup. It went well. My doctor asked “are there any questions or concerns?” my mom said no. The doctor asked me. My mom interrupted: “I know my child best and I should be the one who replies.” The doctor says we have to ask the child in private. If there is the knowledge that they are keeping from their parents Or if the parent is hiding something. I am taken outside. I say I think I have ADHD. But I don’t know what it is The doctor says that ADHD is a mental condition that makes it hard to pay attention The doctor went back inside and told my parents. They denied it saying that I choose not to pay attention. The doctor decided to write a letter to the school for the certified psychologist to have an ADHD test. It took a whole day but it came back positive. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited my parents were wrong But on the other hand, I was worried my parents are going to get angry There was a meet in the school library. I was sitting in my home class. I didn’t like reading but I get some peace and quiet. Before I went to the library, I got pulled from my class. Oh no, were my parents going to meet me? It was only the counselor. I asked why she pulled me from my class.
She told me: “The library meet will make children pick specific books. But you can pick any book. If needed, I will allow you to override the choice of others if you want the book.”
That was nice but why will I need books, I replied.
The counselor replied: you know that you have been diagnosed with ADHD. Well, you still need to learn about ADHD.
What? I have to read books I exclaimed! The books are more interesting than the big picture fewer chapter books the other kids are supposed to read. I will call the librarian so she will know to help.
So I returned to class. The bell has rung. I head to the library. I sit at a table and I am already bored. A librarian brings me to a computer lab to look at the catalog. I find the book I am looking for. It is a book about what ADHD is and how to cope with the symptoms I was about to check out the book but then it hit me. What if my parents see the cover of the book? I expressed my concerns. The librarian questioned What are you talking about. It’s ok, they wouldn’t care.
I replied NO, they are the type of parents who would get furious if I got hurt on the playground Even if it was a bully who punched me in the face.
The librarian replied: This is crazy But it is true I have these spare history book covers so your parents think you are doing history. And I also have a history notebook so it will make it seem like you are working hard
I replied Ok, thank you, but won’t the excess “homework” be suspicious.
The librarian replied No. There will be an email saying all students will receive this.
OK thank you very much I replied
The librarian replied No problem also if your parents look at the book while you are reading, slip these old bound pages.
I replied Oh, thank you very much. Have a good day.
I was very excited. When I got home, I held my excitement when reading so my parents won’t get suspicious. I was reading and then suddenly my mom went into the room. She asked What are you doing? I am reading about history. May I take a look? Of course.
(Oh no, what do I do? Oh YES, the old pages. I had then on the opposite side I was reading so I can flip it out.)
She added: Oh wow. You are reading quite well how did you do it?
(Oh no. How do I explain it without revealing my secret?)
I nervously replied: Well my teacher told me that history isn’t just reading words and writing them on a paper. It is learning what happened in the past. Discover what life was like back then and also how the world has changed.
Mom replied: I see but how do you read so well so much that you were lying in your room for an hour?
I again, nervously replied: Well I found history fascinating and I read better by reading the text and saying it in my own words And describing it in fewer words to better understand it.
Nice, that is a good strategy. Well, you know what; I am going to make your reading into a currency. You earn a “page” when you read one page in a book. And 2 “pages” can buy you 1 minute of computer time.
PHEW, that was close. She would have gotten very angry at me But this gives me enough time to search if there are any ADHD medicines and how affordable they are. I see that ADHD medicines do exist and they are affordable. Good. I talked to the nurse about this and she wrote a note to the doctor requesting to write a prescription.
A few days later, I went to the doctor’s office. The doctor was talking about ADHD while I had a huge smirk on my face. My parents finally agreed and I was happy. I took the medicine and I felt some of the side effects But my teachers complimented me saying how good my grades were. My grades skyrocketed. I was happy. I asked my teacher if she can print an early report card. She agreed. I ran across the yard in excitement and gave my parents the card. My parents were impressed. I was happy. My mom said that they will stop the grounding and they will ask what I want as a reward. I said that I want them and me to go to a parenting counselor. Mom unwillingly agreed.
At the office, I was chosen to go first. I was talking about how my parents would have been angry if I said that I have ADHD And they would never open to me The counselor said to my mom: if you act like this to your child, your child will have an unhealthy relationship with you. DO NOT be strict. Instead of your son learning from the strictness, he will fear it. He will become a good liar.
Mom argued: No, he will know the punishment for lying.
The counselor replied No, he will lie.
Mom argued back: But I have never caught him lying.
That is because he has learned to cover up the lie.
I have indeed lied. I was reading a book about ADHD but it had a cover of history.
All this went on for what felt like hours upon hours My parents were very apologetic when I came home. Fast forward a month. My grades are excellent and my parents treat me a lot differently. And, I have been feeling a lot happier.
So, I have a happy ending.