“Mom, what’s wrong with me,” he asked, eyes filled with confusion and fear. “Will I have to take those pills?”“I don’t know, Fabian. I really don’t know,” I replied as I held his hands in mine, grasping for my child as if I were losing him. My wonderful, creative, intelligent child.
Fabian was overwhelmed in school and disliked going, but tried hard to do his best. His best was not good enough, though. They called him a “wandering child”, always daydreaming. “He may suffer from some sort of Attention Deficit Disorder,” the teachers suggested. If you look up the word “disorder” it means a disruption; a breach of public peace; a riot; a disregard of system; ill; deranged. My beautiful child “deranged”? I tried to do my best as a single mother with little time to devote to the overload of homework they gave him and the after-school PTA meetings. I also felt like a failure. I researched night after night on the Internet, trying to find answers. Soon Fabian was given evaluations in school, as he spent hours answering the social worker’s 70 and 80 question forms about his growing up. The teachers felt he might fail again; he was showing no improvement in the first 6 months of school. I felt I had no way out, and agreed to have him be part of a research study for ADD medication.
“I’m going to have to take drugs?” he asked me. “I thought you told me never to do drugs!” Boy, what a slap in the face that was. But I explained that some children need this extra help, not really believing in what I was saying. “It’s not really drugs, it’s medication.” Then I made his appointment for a Friday. Still trying to find answers, I sat in front of my computer on a Tuesday night. I recall sitting looking at the browser and my hands on the keyboard. “What is it I’m looking for? What does Fabian need?” Well, I could only come up with one answer. I began to type in the word HELP. Suddenly, to my surprise, something came up. I saw the initials H.E.L.P. What in the world is this? “Hollywood Education & Literacy Project”.
I began to read, and a crack on my closed doors began to appear. I emailed Charles Thomas who called me the following day and connected me with Barbie Rivera in Miami. I left her a message and got an immediate callback. I made an appointment with her on Wednesday evening and took Fabian with me. I recall sitting in her class filled with books, her desk with kids’ files and success stories, and a huge smile on her face. We sat and she looked at my son and said, “So Fabian, they tell me you failed sixth grade?” “Yeah,” he answered, with his chin down. “Well…I don’t think you failed; I think THEY failed.” Fabian’s face began to lift as he looked at Barbie with a face of astonishment and hope. I tried to hold my tears as I witnessed my son learn the biggest lesson of his life. “I’m not a failure.” Receiving his test results after three months and going from a 2.9 to a 9.8 (second grade to ninth grade) proved it. I’ve never seen him happier.
By the way… we never made it to the doctor’s appointment. I think they’re still waiting for us.