We often hear people talk about their majors and their successes as a right of passage. We think about all the years we invest in college and hang our certifications and degrees on the wall, but I want to bring your attention to the most important major. I am talking about the major that requires 18 plus years in the making and continues to grow even after we are no longer around.
We are our children’s keepers. Like a guardian protecting their sacred interest, we protect our children. We fight for our children when the world often tries to cast them aside. I know this because it happened to our 19 yr old after we finally settled down from our last duty station. It had been a hard 14 years for the girls due to their father’s constant deployments. We were like many other military families, and my middle child suffered for it. Did you know that there are countless children of military parents who are on some form of medication? There are a lot of children diagnosed with ADHD/ADD and an uncanny amount with ODD. When Ariana was 7 we had a military cop who talked to us about getting her a second opinion due to the alarming amount of things he had seen with meds and kids. The very first medication they placed her on was Concerta. She became so unstable that she was running out of the school and house. Her school asked me to come sit with her during instructions to help keep her from running out of the building. We took her off the medication and all the behaviors vanished.
By the time we settled down, she had been in four schools in three short years. It was enough to make her shut down. She started school in Savannah, GA. Then, my husband deployed to Korea. After he was in Korea he got orders for Fort Campbell. The girls and I went ahead of him by four weeks, and then the unthinkable happened. He was redirected to Fort Bliss.
After he got to Bliss, his back gave out. They performed back surgery on him that left him 90 percent disabled. It was a horrible surgery, but there was nothing we could do. He could no longer lift 25 pounds, so he was no longer qualified for the Army. We moved to Garland, Texas, which was our final school after the madness settled.
Ariana shut down around that time. She was no longer interested in communicating with people. I informed the school that I thought her behavior had something to do with the numerous moves. However, we both agreed that something needed to be done because she wasn’t communicating.
The school gave Ariana an IQ test, which stated that she had an IQ of 65. I informed them that her IQ test was off, but they refused to believe me and said she would re-test later. The diagnostician stated that there was no way that the test would be off enough to make that big of a difference. I insisted that tests were known to be biased and that moving created another set of variables. Ariana was performing acts that were well above her 65 score, but people often think parents are just being parents.
Ariana entered Special Education and gained freedom from Special Ed English and Reading. After we moved her to another school, she was removed from speech too. We had her re-tested, and she was indeed higher than the 65. She scored high enough to have the intellectual disability label removed.
She lost time with math due to her moving back and forward. It created a problem, but she was able to regroup. We found out last week that and she was accepted by two colleges. We never let Ariana hide from work. She has ADD/ADHD and is not medicated due to her past issues with medication, but that hasn’t stopped her from doing well. She said from day one that she wanted to be a chef, so she will be attending Lamar University in their BS in Hospitality program which, is also a culinary program.
She was scared and didn’t want to apply to any universities because she didn’t think she could get it, but I told her to apply anyway. She has been in her culinary program for 3 years now. She has been through it all! From getting attacked to fighting to overcome educational hills, she has continued the good fight.
To those of you with children who are suffering from similar issues, never give up. Stay centered in their education and stay alert. Always monitor the work YOU see them doing. I remember at the start of the school year when remote learning was getting underway. I talked to one of her teachers who didn’t know us as a family. He informed me he would be her economics teacher. He later said that if she just attempted the work, he would pass her.
I politely told him that was unacceptable! I told him that I needed him to push her just like he would encourage any other student. Economics turned out to be one of her favorite classes because it involved money. I purchased books on economics and even quizzed her on definitions! She understands that we are great not by accident, but we are great because we try hard to overcome.
I have informed her that she might find herself studying in the library often as she attends the university and that she might need to get tutoring at some point. Yet, the tutoring is free, so it is hers for the taking! I will miss those moments of teaching extra lessons, but the phone is never too heavy to pick up.
For those who have followed her growth and story, thank you. She did it! Never give up on your kids and remember the most important major, is the one called parenting.