My wife and I had a meeting with our younger son's high school counselor today. Son #2, who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), along with anxiety, has been struggling in his classes. After a decent start to the school year, our son's grades have started to tumble. The primary reason for this is the ADHD. Our son just can't focus like he needs to. And doing homework is a Herculean challenge every night. Homework that probably takes "normal" kids 2-3 hours a night easily takes our son double that amount of time. Which means, quite honestly, that the homework frequently doesn't get done. Most nights, the boy is just too drained to do it. But while the bad grades are a concern, they aren't the reason for my broken heart today.
During our meeting with the counselor, we mentioned that our son has expressed fears about flunking ninth grade, and that he frequently feels stupid. The counselor then told us she was aware of those feelings, because another student had come down and talked to her about our son earlier today. This other student, bless her heart, came to my son's counselor and told her that our son was very concerned about his grades. This other student also relayed another bit of information, which is the reason for my broken heart. This student told our son's counselor that our son is scared he's turning into his older brother.
When I heard that, my heart just fell apart. Not only does son #2 have to live with and worry about his constant struggle in school, but now he's worried that he's turning into his brother. God, that has to be an incredible burden for him. And it makes me sad that he's feeling that way. My wife and I will have to work hard to see if we can eliminate that feeling; without, of course, letting on that we know about the other student talking to the counselor, because we wouldn't want to break that confidence.
My wife and I are also going to start looking into other school options for our younger son. Maybe a therapeutic school or something. We think he needs a different learning environment and more individualized attention. His current high school is rated as one of the best in the nation, but if it isn't working for him that rating means nothing to us.
Sometimes I wonder if things will ever get easier for us. After our meeting with the school counselor, my wife and I both got into the car and cried. Being a teenager is hard enough these days. Being a teenager and living with the stuff our younger son is living with just makes it that much harder for him.
Postscript: The other night, while I was talking to my wife about all the work we need to do on our house, how our cars are on their last legs, and how we just don't have the money to do the things we need to do, she said something simple to me that I have to try to start believing myself: "I have faith that everything will work out." Of course my wife worries about stuff. But she doesn't worry anywhere near as much as I do. And she's always so grounded. For a long time her resiliency sort of bothered me. But now I'm starting to appreciate it more. My wife really is my rock. And I would be lost without her in my life.