As most of you know, Vader has ADHD. For those of you who have kids with ADHD, you know that taking tests is hard. Really. Hard.
In Florida, we have the FCAT, a standardized test which determines whether kids from 3rd to 12th grade are on grade level. I have no problem with the FCAT, although I know a lot of people do. But like any standardized test, it requires sitting still and focusing in a quiet room for hours. And that is a problem for my kid.
My kid has trouble sitting still at the dinner table for 20 minutes, even when he is famished. My kid taps and moves, shakes and vibrates, all the whole day through. This does not make him a bad kid. He is sensitive and caring, a truly thoughtful and sweet boy. He just does not have an “off” button.
We have been preparing, academically, emotionally and physically, for the FCAT for two years. We have worked with the school to make sure that Vader has limited distractions during the test, that he can move in the space provided for the test without violating any rules or disturbing other kids and that he has the know-how AND the presence of mind to complete the exam.
If it didn’t work, there would have been more tests and the likelihood of summer school – which for a kid like mine is cruel and unusual punishment. More time in a classroom, instead of running and jumping and dancing and moving, would be
difficult torture for Vader, not to mention the disappointment he’d harbor in not faring well on the test. (Mom and Dad would have been emotionally crushed too…and don’t get me started on the logistical challenges for the family with one in school and the others in camp.)
Friday afternoon, we were at the school meeting with Splash’s teacher and I ran into Vader’s teacher on my way out. And she nearly burst with pride when she told me the news. There was hugging and smiling and joy, so much joy.
When I picked him up, it was the first thing out of his mouth. “Mama, I passed!” And I had just enough time before getting Vader to call HH and share the good news so that he could pick up a few helium balloons and work with Splash and Turtle to make a congratulatory sign for the door to welcome the beaming 3rd grader home. It was a wonderful moment. He was SO proud of himself. He recounted how much work he put into getting ready, how he checked his answers multiple times, how he used his brain to tell his feet to keep still and how it was all worth it.
I get a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about it now.
We are by no means done with the worrying. Vader will probably struggle again in 4th grade and 5th…and so on. But. For today, we passed.
My kid passed the test and it is so much more than that.