Lucas comes home with unfinished work in his folder, a note from the teacher requesting that I have him finish it. In the behavior section of his folder, there is a frowny-face. Not good. These past few weeks have been bumpy; I blame the Easter Bunny and his damn candy-filled eggs.

I make Lucas complete his work, plus I add a few pages from the workbooks that we have lying around. Then he needs to practice violin. I hover nearby, offering suggestions. He is mostly compliant because he knows he’s in trouble from the school stuff. Sometimes violin practice can be… messy.
I don’t let him go outside and play with the neighbors. From inside, we hear their gleeful screams. It’s time to go to soccer.
We pull into a parking spot and I say, “Okay kids, let’s get out! Be careful of traffic!” I unbuckle Marisol and remind Lucas to grab his soccer bag. He opens the door and stands there on the edge, hanging, staring at the horizon. He does not acknowledge me. “Lucas! Get your soccer bag!”
A van pulls around, planning to park in the spot next to us, on Lucas’ side. The driver sees Lucas and waits. “Lucas! Get your bag and get out. This lady is waiting on you.” He looks at me with blank eyes. He picks up his book about tornados and drops it on the ground. “Oops.” He climbs out of the car. The door is hanging wide open and the lady in the van is still waiting. Lucas is picking up the book but looking at the pictures as he does so. “LUCAS!!! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!” I yell. As slow as molasses, he climbs back up into the car, pulls the door closer to him so the lady can park. “Just come this way,” I tell him. He still hasn’t touched the soccer bag.
The lady and her son have already hopped out of their car and are skipping toward the fields. Was her kid just born like that or did she teach him to do that? Does she ever scream at her kid? Does she throw his toys away? I am about to cry. “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST GET OUT OF THE CAR? IT’S EASY! PEOPLE DO IT ALL THE TIME! ONE FOOT DOWN, THE OTHER FOOT DOWN, CLOSE THE DOOR! IT’S REALLY NOT THAT HARD!”
I make him get back into the car and buckle his seat belt. Do the whole thing over again. “THANK YOU. THAT is how you should get out of the car EVERY time. I need a yes ma’am.” He is repentant; “Yes ma’am.” Marisol says, “I got out of the car quickly, mommy.” She is a kiss-ass.   
I sit by other moms on the bleachers; we talk while we watch the kids play. One of them is complaining about how crazy her boys are today. We decide there must be something in the air. Yes, that’s it, something in the air. I tell them about my day with Lucas. We are commiserating, aren’t we? One of them says, “He’s just a normal boy!” I cringe at this. No – he has ADHD. I hate when people pretend that ADHD isn’t a real thing, as if I and other moms have conjured it up as an excuse for our inability to control our children. I HATE IT.
I tell them how I handled his misbehavior at school, with the extra homework, violin practice, no outside play. One of the mothers is astonished. She admonishes, “But kids like that need to go outside and play!”
(I’m sorry, kids “like that”?)
“He’s outside playing right now,” I tell her, pointing. I’m smiling. She means no harm.
“Well, yes…” she concedes.
I realize suddenly that I am a Tiger Mom. I am strict. Maybe too strict sometimes? I don’t care. I won’t let my baby slip through the cracks. Yes; I am a Tiger Mom. Sometimes when we’re doing homework and Lucas is having trouble focusing, we get to the point of tears. (Me? Him? Depends on the day.)
But I won’t give him the answer. I won’t. The other day, I knew he had the answer in his brain, but he could not access his thoughts. This is how it is with ADHD: It’s having arbitrary thoughts obscuring your obligatory thoughts. The information you want and need to access is covered over with wriggling worms or popping kernels of corn. It takes so much effort to clear away the clutter.
But I believe Lucas can do it. As I’m telling him he can do it, he glares at me defiantly and plugs his ears. I am angry, so angry. I want to hit him. I send him to timeout. I grab a toy, a blow-up thing that he got as a party favor from some kid’s birthday, and I push the air out (everyone should have a blow-up toy to squish when they’re angry) and throw the toy in the trash.
“That is the last time you will ever plug your ears at me,” I tell him. He is crying. I almost pull the toy from the trash. But I don’t. He has to learn that there are consequences for being disrespectful.
The timer buzzes. His six minutes are up and he returns to the table. He completes the problem like it was the easiest thing in the world. The wriggling worms, for now, have been wiped away. I give him a jelly bean. Yes I know it has sugar and food coloring. It is just one freaking jelly bean. He deserves it. He works harder than anyone else to achieve the same result: finished homework.
He is smiling now, a big grin. He is so proud of himself for answering the problem independently. He tells me it was “easy.” I tell him, “Yes, it was easy for you once you were able to calm down and focus. What if I had just given you the answer like you wanted? Would you be proud of yourself like you are right now?” He shakes his head. “You see, I believe in you. I know you can do it. And I want you to trust me; if I say you can do it, I want you to believe me that you can. And I want you to believe in yourself.”
“But I have ADD and it’s hard for me to focus!”
“ADD is a thing you struggle with, but it’s not an excuse to give up. You never give up. You stop, take a deep breath, regroup, and try again with a clear mind. But you never give up. Everyone has things they struggle with. For me, it’s patience. I struggle with it every day, remembering not to scream at everyone all the time. Sometimes I fail. But I won’t use it as an excuse. I will always keep working on it; I will always keep trying to be better. You have to do the same thing.”
I won’t let him give up. I won’t make it easy for him. After all, the world is not an easy place. I need to provide him with real-world experiences in the things we do every day. But the difference between the real world and me is that I will always be a soft place for him to fall. Unlike the world, I will love him infinity to the infinity power, be there for him no matter what, and accept him no matter his flaw, fault, or wrongdoing. I will shovel organic food down his throat, I will make him do extra homework, I will encourage him at soccer, I will make him practice violin (and try not to scream at him while doing so), and I will throw away his toys when he disrespects me. I will reward his achievements. We will get frustrated with each other, rip our hair out, cry and scream. We will learn. We will grow. We will get better.
Yes. I am a Tiger Mom.


  1. Anonymous

    Tiger Moms Unite!!! It’s so great to read some of my own thoughts knowing that I didn’t write them. There is someone else (and she is a beautiful, accomplished, and driven woman), somewhere else, thinking the same thing. Deep breath in… let it all out… I’m not alone. I love you and I love your blog. Never quit!

  2. Anonymous

    Is he on meds? don’t get mad at me…but YES he sounds like one maybe even two of my boys. And they do not have ADD. Or maybe they do. I would never in a million years test them and allow them to be labeled or use it as an excuse, but I’m psycho like that. I know I wouldn’t medicate them so no need to test. I realized the other day I yell alot when they are getting in/out of the car. My 6 yr old esp. Who, by the way, is a miserable kid for the last…ohh…since EASTER when people other than ME handed him bagfuls of jellybeans and other mind poison.

    • No, he’s not on meds. There isn’t an official “test” for ADHD – it’s more of a checklist. And he meets pretty much every requirement. I like having the label though (I know that sounds weird), because I want people to understand that he IS TRYING his best, but he is fighting something that is largely out of his control. And I want HIM to understand what’s going on, too. I want him to understand why he is “different.” He absolutely noticed, prior to diagnosis, that he was “different.” The getting out of the car thing is just one example. I used to think I was over-reacting and that I just didn’t understand “typical boys.” But once he got into school and started participating in group activities, it became abundantly clear that he is, indeed, different. I will be writing other posts about how we approached this discussion about being different together. It would be so easy to crush his self-esteem, and it is something I try to counter on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  3. My older two boys were diagnosed with having learning disabilities. They had IEPs since they were in 1st grade. My oldest is in college and doing very well. Some children just need to work harder than others. It stinks, but that’s the truth. I accepted no excuses. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried over the years that they weren’t like all the other children and how easy the other mothers must have it. Crazy, I know. I’ve come to realize that these things are not disabilities, but differences. My kids learn differently than others. They are extremely bright and beautiful. I could brag on and on. My other discovery, coming back to you, is that God only gives us what we can handle. He gave you your son because you are the perfect mother for him. We need to quit comparing ourselves to other mothers. I am the perfect Dylan, Devon, Mackenzie and Colin mother. I would probably stink being Bob and Betty’s mother. That assignment is for their perfect mother.

    • About the “differences.” YES. I don’t even like to call it a disability. I keep telling Lucas that everyone has their ‘thing’ that they have to work on, that nobody gets a free pass at an easy life. We all have something we have to work on. And we ARE a perfect match. I tell him that if God were to come to me and offer to allow me to trade Lucas when any other child in the world, I would refuse. And that if I didn’t have a son yet, and God offered me a choice of any child in the world, I would choose Lucas, exactly as he is. I hope he hears this stuff, because the poor kid sure does hear a lot of “don’t do this,” “don’t do that.” =/

  4. GAH! I think you are doing a great job…I am a yeller and I don’t know if I could reel it in as much as you do. I have a 6 year old girl and that getting out of the car scene is not a stranger in our car, but it’s pretty rare.
    I LOVED your comment about telling him you’d pick him as your kid…that is so full of awesome, I hope he hears it too!
    Great post! <3 Devan

    • “Reel it in??” Hehe that’s funny. 😉 I have CONSTANT guilt for yelling. I lay awake at night and pray to God to help me have patience and not yell. For realz.

      Thanks for commenting!