J. is an adorable one-and-a-half-year old. Active, enterprising, cheerful, exploring his new world. I spent a delightful, but tiring afternoon with him, while his parents were discussing serious matters in a family meeting. He climbed on the chairs, he banged the poles of the table football, he ate six chocolates and three bananas. Some of the social workers present were clearly not amused. Children should not be present when their social problems are discussed. The parents were too preoccupied to heed him at all.
All afternoon I did nanny duty. J. never became cranky. He accepted my changing his nappy, he was easily led back from rooms where he had no business. He found cars to ride on the windowsill. He was just an adorable, never quiet toddler.
At the end of the meeting Grandma gave her opinion, as she had done incessantly all afternoon. “You, as a teacher, must recognise that he has got ADHD.”
“No, I don’t,” I replied. “He is a naturally active child, behaving as can be expected from a child his age. This is what they are like at one and a half.”
“But he doesn’t see the danger of what he does.”
“Of course he doesn’t! He’s a toddler! That’s what he needs to learn.”
“Well, the social worker says it too: he’s got ADHD.”
Are people happier with labels? It seems so. More interesting to fix a sticker on a behaviour and hide behind it. Thus the responsibility is with the child (for being so active) and the social workers (for fixing the problem).
And we are all Pilatus.