When Ezra was in third grade, I sat at a parent-teacher conference and listened to a teacher describe him as smart, but kind of lazy. His desk and backpack were a mess, he could never seem to find the right folder or worksheet, his homework was occasionally lost or late.
She asked us about his nervous tic -- hands tightly clasped together, brought up to his mouth, then a strange tensing up of his entire body followed by a sharp intake of breath and a small shuddering shake/rattle. It started in kindergarten, we told her. He says it's just because he's excited. We figured he'd just outgrow it at some point, but it hadn't happened yet.
When Ezra was in fourth grade, his teacher described him -- a little more generously this time -- as a daydreamer who required frequent reminders to stay on task or pay attention. He got B's and C's on his report card, and was overall a pretty average student.
He tried the violin, and then cricket, quitting both in fairly short order. He began complaining that he didn't have any friends, that no one wanted to play with him at recess, and he stopped joining the kids in the neighborhood outside after school.
Instead, he sat for hours at our dining room table agonizing over his homework. A five-question math worksheet took him at least 30 minutes. A simple writing assignment of three to five sentences took even longer, and his handwriting was borderline illegible. Tests and assignments came home with notes from teachers that they literally could not read his answers and had to mark them as incorrect. "SLOW DOWN :)" was a comment I saw a lot.
But he was a good kid. A well-behaved kid. A quiet kid who never, ever got in trouble, except for getting caught once or twice reading a book during classes instead of listening to the teacher. He LOVED books. DEVOURED books. He smuggled books out to the playground to read at recess, which technically isn't allowed but the playground monitors would sometimes give him a pass, because he was so polite and serious. He also seemed pretty lonely without his books.
"Hyperactive" is like, the last word you would EVER use to describe a kid like Ezra.
He started Vyvanse just before fifth grade. A very low dose, just to see.
He got straight A's on his most recent report card and made the honor roll. He never has homework anymore because he finishes it at school. If he has a big project due on Friday he starts it on Monday, preferring to get it finished by Wednesday so he has time to proofread and make final changes on Thursday. He joined the safety patrol, a young authors club and delivers the morning announcements. His teachers have nothing but praise and good things to say about him. He's a joy, a delight, such a great kid to have in class.
He decided on his own to audition for the county's GT/Honors Band and -- while he didn't make it -- he came pretty close, surprising his band director and flute teacher, who both admitted they had no idea what he was actually capable of playing. He's now in the school's most advanced ensemble and his teacher skipped him ahead to a more challenging book. He loves it. His confidence has skyrocketed.
His handwriting is impeccable. He prefers to write in cursive, because it's fancier. Sometimes I pull out cards and letters he wrote for me just last year, just to blow my own mind a little bit.
He befriended a blind student and they're now inseparable at recess, telling each other jokes while hanging from the monkey bars. Ezra protects and guides him in crowded hallways and helps him in anyway he can. The boy's aide sends notes and small prizes home with Ezra as a thank you, but of course he's not doing any of it for prizes or praise. He's just happy to have a friend again.
I can tell when his medicine wears off because that's the only time I see the tic. He does it to snap himself into focus, to clear out the noise and the tension that builds up in his brain and his body.
"I didn't know how to describe ADHD," he told me. "So I just called it being excited. I thought I was just more excited than everybody else, and like, all the time."
Yesterday, we got a letter from the school district, recommending that -- based on his latest round of testing -- Ezra should be placed in the Gifted & Talented program.
I know I should probably say some Classic Mom thing here, like how I'm totally not surprised or how I always knew he had it him.
But the truth is I am, and I didn't.
This year has simply been a revelation. for both of us.