does the behaviour fit the label or does the label fit the behaviour?

How come when my kid does something dumb at school I have to be hauled into the principal’s office? And why do arrows have such pointy, sharp tips?

My middle guy, PVP, is strong on kisses and cuddles, he’s a great reader, he writes, he cooks, he’s interested in most things going, but he hates Sport. He’s lucky his PE teacher, Sando, is likes him and they get along. Plenty of teachers would have given up. Who wants to teach a kid who won’t join in, who wanders off, argues, and hates the subject you love?

In my daydreaming I imagine myself teaching writing, we’d talk about sentences and paragraphs and character and plot. We discuss adverbs and why you should keep them in your pocket. Then I remind myself some of my students might not want to be there. How would I feel? Yes, PVP is lucky to have Sando. And Sando is lucky is to have him because a recalcitrant, charming, brat of a ratfink student is bound to teach you something.

The principal, the house principal, the mentor, PVP and me all at the round table. Now PVP gets that you don’t shoot arrows anywhere you like. Yep, it was at the ground, at a short distance, but he could have hit someone and yeah, but I didn’t doesn’t cut it. So he’s got a day’s suspension which he’s not happy about, and worse, they don’t feel they can trust him in potentially dangerous situations, like science class or in the school’s kitchen.

PVP isn’t a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, he’s harder to define that that. He’s more like a hairy, slippery-sided parallelogram trying to fit into a round hole with teeth. He’s got Add or ADHD, I struggle to understand the difference, or maybe, he has Autism, or Asperger’s. It looks like all and it never looks like none.

The school asked if he’d been assessed.

Yes, I said. Told them what the pediatrician said. But here’s my assessment.

PVP is different, he’s smart, he needs patience and a little understanding, he’s delightful, and sometimes he’s a bloody nong. Most everybody I know could fit that description (if I’ve offended anyone then I suggest they take a look in the mirror).

Back at the round table, PVP impressed with maturity, with his abiltity to stay on topic, to be contrite and exlpain why. He sat still, and upright, and he didn’t rely on cheeky grins and Simpson’s refeerances to get the job done. His principal told him he hadn’t seen him as accommodating and conscientious since they first met nearly a year ago. And his principal wondered how much of his usual non-communicative, errant behaviour was out of his control. If you can do it today, PVP, why not every other day? He’s got me wondering too.

Is PVP living out the label he’s been given?

Tomorrow we have another appointment with the pediatrician, I’ll renew PVP’s prescription for Concerta (ADD medication) and I’ll ask about Autism and Asperger’s. But, what if we walked out of there with nothing named?

My beautiful, sometimes silly, always wide-eyed, son calls himself ADD boy. That’s pretty bloody sad, if you ask me.

What if, during the appointment, we told PVP that nothing was ’wrong’ that he’d grow out of his issues over the Christmas holidays? That he was a normal everyday great kid and that he’d return to school in February more like the kid at the round table and less like the kid with the suspension.

Could we keep an eye, stay close just in case, and drop the label?

Would it work?


if we have to label him let’s call him Chocolate Boy

6 thoughts on “does the behaviour fit the label or does the label fit the behaviour?

  1. Fancy a kid who doesn’t like sport. Is he like a normal Aussie child, I mean if he ever gets to like sport he may such a renegade and believe it’s playing that matters, not winning. Hey bike girl you’ve got a real treasure in PVP, cherish him. Must admit I loathed sport at school and ever afterwards. You are great parents. From Alex

  2. Sport? What’s that? I’d think his real problem is boredom! Most schools are such regimented places, sounds like he’s interested in most things, just not that Aussie obsession!

    • Hi Elsie, I think it’s all the competition around sport bat his previous school. I think it put he and his brothers off. Perhaps if they called it ‘moving your bod’ they’d have better result. Also, if he did sport he’d do something he could do on his own like swimming or cycling or couch riding.

  3. Hi. I think the kid would still have the challenges complying to the school rules without the label. I think the labels are crude but they trigger strategies around common behaviours that kids with these labels typically share. This helps the school and any adult carer responsible for attempting to engender co-operation. As you note, the kid can call on resources, focus and manage their behaviour for the length of a meeting, but cannot maintain this composure thought out an average school day due to their neurological make up. My issue is not with labelling but with the labels. The day I had to tell my son what ADHD stood for was a similar moment of sadness you describe when your son called himself “ADD boy”. Why call “it” a disorder? I dont’ care what ‘they’ call it standing around in white coats, but have some consideration for the child. One label I would like to see abolished is normal.

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