My son Hugo is a handful. Within the first month of his life, I started referring to him as Hurricane Hugo because of the swirl of strawberry blonde hair on top of his head: it looked like the eye of a storm on Doppler. The moniker became permanent once I realized his personality matched.
He was always advanced [a lot o moms think their babies are super smart (they’re usually correct)], and for the first four years, I was overjoyed that he was such a little genius. He talked early — with complete sentences by his first birthday — and clearly; strangers could understand every word and probably thought he was just a midget three-year-old. Since he skipped crawling and started walking one week before eight months, anyone with achondroplasiaphobia undoubtedly ran in the opposite direction. At nine months, however, he would have caught up.
Preschool: that is where my vicarious happiness died. It took only a few weeks for the behavior reports to appear, and then the phone calls and suspensions. K-4 is not a requirement where I’m from (not sure if it is anywhere), so after a few parent-teacher-principal meetings, the school just went ahead and expelled my son.
K-5 was no different. The teacher didn’t like Hugo, possibly because he had called her fat the year before (in his defense, she did have a strong resemblance to Tweedle-dee’s brother). She made it clear she had no patience for a “troubled child” and fought to have him removed from her class. And she succeeded; by his sixth birthday, he was in an isolated classroom with three other special needs children: a girl in a wheelchair whose physical limitations prevented her from being in a regular class, an autistic boy who couldn’t say more than a few words, and another boy who had “violent tendencies” just like mine.
At some point, the school also decided that there must be a specific cause for Hugo’s behavior and that that cause must be his home life. There must be something wrong with his mother, since she’s the only parent he has. If not for my family, the school would’ve had him taken away, all on the assumption that I was unfit as a single mom. Although I was going through a difficult time, that boy was always taken care of.
Needless to say, we got the hell away from that place and found a school better suited to his needs. At least, I thought we had. We’re in the middle of a diagnosis war: the school says ADHD, his doctor (five failed medications later) says Opposition/Defiance…I say genetic Depression/Anxiety, but I’m just the mom, so what the frosty do I know! When the medication choices run out, maybe someone will finally say “hey! Maybe mom is on to something!” Until then, everyone gets to deal with my anger and frustration about the phone calls, suspensions, violent outbursts, and hysterical crying (his and mine on that last one).
My son is my life. Most of my hope in this world is gone; however, I know that he and I will get through this rough (five-year) patch, and he will become an incredible man.
Hugo is crazy about Steve Jobs. My son loves to build and create; he wants to be an inventor and an engineer…and possibly a hotel owner. Just last week, he surprised a librarian by approaching her and asking for help locating the engineering books. I didn’t tell him to ask; he took the initiative and ended up with several books on aviation and car mechanics. Although they were written for a teenage audience, he’s already devoured them.
I’d be very surprised if he didn’t have at least a ninth grade reading level, since he’s been racing through Percy Jackson, Eragon, and any other SF&F he can find in the library’s teen room. He was recently tested at 99-percent recall, and he reads faster than I do — faster than my mom, who can kill The Hobbit and the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy in less than a week — and, as a devoted book nerd, I couldn’t be prouder.
One day (hopefully twenty-plus years from now when he’s all rich and famous…and mature), he’ll find himself a girl who reads (something other than romance), and I will have the coolest daughter-in-law ever! It’ll be especially helpful for us to have a common interest when he puts me up in that nice hotel he’s planning to buy.