This is the child.
The one we say is too loud, too quiet, too distracted, too active, too shy, too stubborn, too immature, too disruptive, too slow…just, too difficult.
The one we label a problem. The one we try to change.
But I can assure you this child doesn’t want to be a problem. And I can assure you he lies awake at night wondering how to make that change happen.
See, it’s not that this child doesn’t understand what is expected of him. He really does. It’s that he finds the path that leads to meeting those expectations suffocating to the point of being impassable.
We’ve set a single standard for what every child should learn, where and how they should learn it, when they should have it learned by, and how they need to go about proving that they have. This standard is non-negotiable and unrelenting for more than a decade of their formative years. How they perform against it becomes central to their life narrative, laying a permanent lens over how they see themselves among family, friends and their community. It becomes a key part of how other people describe them. It almost defines their self-confidence and mental health as it weaves its way into the fabric of their lives.
And this child…this is the one who day after day, week after week, year after year has to find a way to make things work in an environment that is completely at odds with the way his brain was wired before he was even born.
This child is not a problem. This child, just like the millions of others like him, does not need to change.
What we expect of him, however, does.