shine the lightI remember a family therapist telling me years ago, “We don’t know about Little Bug yet.” Justin was only three at the time. When she said it, my mommy-hackles went up. Justin is fine! There’s nothing wrong with him! Well it’s seven years later and more has emerged. In a way, he’s the most complicated of my three children. And, since the older two are doing so relatively fabulously (thanks to a RAD therapist, horse therapy and a mom who’s parenting with pizzazz), Justin’s “more” is showing, well, more.

He brought home his fourth grade vocabulary list of “personality words” this week, and I asked him which one described him. He chose “impetuous” which was a good call but I had my eye on a different one. “Any others?” He pointed to “arrogant.” I gave him a high five for honesty. “Any others?” He finally picked the one I’d been eyeing: “ebullient.” So there you have it. Impetuous, arrogant and ebullient. There’s no quiet, down-time, humility or softness in that. As for boundaries? He’s never met one he likes. Very occasionally, usually after he’s had a tantrum of some kind, Justin can be soft and tender. It’s my favorite side of him. I just wish I saw it more often.

We keep identifying and supposedly solving problems with him. When the neuropsychologist evaluating him two years ago said Justin was the most hyperactive kid he’d ever tested, and he couldn’t even finish administering the tests, we solved the ADD problem with all the interventions you can think of, plus Adderall. Things got better for a while, but when we see the psychiatrist next week, I’m going to ask if we can up the dose. I hate to do it, but it seems cruel not to give Justin the help he needs if he does in fact require chemical intervention.

When we (I) heard from the RAD therapist that Justin is spoiled and has been allowed to get away with too much for too long because I’ve been distracted by the older two, his charmed little life came to an end that day. He doesn’t get away with it anymore, and he is marginally better but still tests and tests and tests. I don’t really blame him trying to get the comfy seat back. We just have to stay the course.

But there are other things driving this little boy and I’m not sure exactly what. For one thing, he is like the Keystone Cops at home and school. Justin can’t pour milk without spilling it and literally makes a mess every time he moves. His teacher told me the other day that getting to his desk in the morning without spilling his water, or getting to noon with his lunch sack intact are big obstacles for Justin. Is it motor coordination? Proprioception? I’m planning to ask the psychiatrist if he has any insight.

And saddest of all, Justin seems obsessed with being adopted, says he’s “not like other kids.” He’s only nine and I thought this kind of ruminating didn’t start until early adolescence. Plus, his brother and sister are adopted. He’s like them. And we happen to live in a community rife with adopted kids, so it doesn’t seem to be a rational idea. Justin’s teacher made the comment that, “he has a lot of anger.” This after he had a tantrum at school and threw a pencil.

I have so many questions about what’s going on with him, which issues are affecting which areas of his life, whether he really can control his impulses and whether he wants to, whether these are counseling issues or whether they’re organic, neurological issues. It’s ironic that we got him the youngest (sixteen months), have the best bond with him, and he may turn out to be the most challenging of the three. I just thank my lucky stars that the other two are doing so well that I can bring this much attention to bear on Justin. He’s going to need it.

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