And He’s Still 13.

Every now and then, my hopes soar. Such is the way I feel this week with Dylan.

He is taking one low-dose Ritalin before school. The dose has doubled since last week, but is still very small. Nothing else has changed. And yet, he is concentrating in school, completing his homework when he gets home, and being incredibly nice all the time.

He had an algebra packet due on Friday – and he finished it four days early! He worked with his tutor, then he stayed up late to get it done. He chose to do it. He worked like the dickens and stayed hunkered down until 10:15 when I told him that a break would help – so he took a shower, then did the rest.

He’s also remembering to talk to his teachers about his grades (which are abysmal) and he’s turning in papers when he can. He hasn’t found his lunchbox in a month, but I haven’t given up. He’s eating well and sleeping well, too – which is utterly amazing, since he’s on a stimulant medication.

And meanwhile, he’s being really pleasant. No matter what I say to him, or ask him to do, he responds like a mature person. Here are some of the things he’s said this week:

“That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

“I can do that.”

“No problem.”

“Here, let me get that.”

“Not a big deal, I’ll take care of it.”

I don’t remember him having this kind of overtly pleasant personality since he was in … maybe third grade.

Dylan was born pleasant and had a strongly developed kindness, even empathy, long before his peers. He talked like an adult even as a toddler, but he also had this over-developed sense of how to treat other people.

Most people don’t believe a toddler can be that way, until I tell them the story of my mom’s foot.

Dylan was a toddler, following my mom up the stairs from the basement. He was scrambling up the steps quickly, while my mom was climbing at a normal pace. So she inadvertently kicked him in the head at the top of the stairs.

As my mom turned around to cuddle him and make sure he was okay, and before she could even say a word, Dylan said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Mimi, that my face got in the way of your foot!”

He was 100% sincere. 

He’s always had an absolutely enormous heart. But for the past few years – starting sometime around the middle of sixth grade – he’s been a bit irritable and anxious and crabby. He was depressed, even when on stimulants or anti-depressants. And he was – not mean, but definitely not pleasant.

I thought grumpiness and rude behavior was just part of being a teenager.

But this week, he is beautiful and sweeter than I’ve seen him in years. And he’s still 13.

And I’ve no idea if this is because his brain has been properly rebalanced by the Ritalin. Maybe it’s because he has a really sweet new girlfriend. Maybe it’s biorhythms. Or maybe it’s because it’s spring now, or because school’s almost over.

But it sure is a coincidence that this behavior appeared on the very first day that he took a full Ritalin tablet.

I won’t know for sure until we give it some more time. But this week, I am happy to sit and observe. I am even beginning to hope.

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