Its 5 am on a Tuesday, as I start writing this. As with many posts, I have no clue how long it will actually take me to finish it, due to the myriad of things that can and do go on and go wrong and go right enough to get sidetracked in my day. Sharkbait decided to sleep with mom and dad around 11 last night after falling asleep on the couch around 9 (more than a wee bit after bedtime), and kicked dad out of bed. Daddy-man (the kidlets superhero name for The Hubby–he even has his own theme song) ended up on the couch (good thing its comfy) and as usual, we both woke up to our respective cell phone alarms, his at 4:30 and mine at 4:45. As usual, Sharkbait is awake and its barely 5 am…right now, his cold toes are digging in the gap between my thigh and the couch. Sharkbait is a burrower–both The Hubby and I have been kicked out of a queen sized bed by him, since he likes to squeeze down between us and curl up into a ball and then stretch out perpendicular to us to claim his territory. Occasionally he will join his sister instead, or end up on the couch. This is a typical night. Less typically, Sharkbait stays in his own bed.
Before Sharkbait was diagnosed with ADHD, I used to explain his personality as my “extreme sports kid”. As a baby, he was a bit fussier, a bit less sleepy, a bit more active than his sister had been. That all changed once he started moving–as soon as he could walk he could climb, he never crawled, and he was oblivious to his name, or to anyone talking directly to him. The only thing that he could sit still for was playing trains. At 2, he wouldn’t carry on a conversation with you, he wouldn’t even string two words together, but he knew the entire alphabet by sight. By 3, he would climb up onto the top of the fridge to break into the cabinet where the cookies were, rather than ask for a cookie…he was also almost kicked out of a part time preschool program, and to keep him enrolled, we were forced to take him to the pediatrician for evaluation (and she then referred him to for speech evaluation and to a specialist in the local children’s hospital’s neurology and development clinic.
Its Wednesday evening…it was a mostly good day for Sharkbait. We went to the zoo in the morning so there was lots of run around time. Unfortunately, the weather is supposed to be bad again. There were a few minor behavior challenges–trying to climb into one of the exhibits trying to feed the giraffes and the ostriches popcorn, not wanting to wait for another kid to have their turn climbing the rhino statue. Nap time didn’t happen though, and he didn’t take his medication because we were out. Needless to say, the evening was rough. I let Chickadee play upstairs with Little Miss later than I might have otherwise, because (quite frankly) Sharkbait is worse when he has an audience. Sometimes I feel like a seagull in finding Nemo…instead of “mine-mine-mine” its “close the door-close the door-close the door” or “put your shoes on-put your shoes on-put your shoes on”. I hate comparing my kids, they are so different, they are developing differently, and its not fair to them…but sometimes…sometimes, I wish Sharkbait was as easy as Chickadee was.
I took Sharkbait to see the specialist right about the time the American Academy of Pediatricians lowered the ADHD diagnosis age to 4. Since he had just turned three, he didn’t fit the criteria for an official diagnosis. The doctor was more than happy to give us a list of books and other resources to help with some of our many behavior challenges. The biggest thing we learned with Sharkbait is that we had to change how we parented and that what we did for and with Chickadee wouldn’t always work with him. To be honest, it was sort of a relief. Now we had a reason for his behavior, a reason that explained what was going on, and that offered us answers.
And, its Thursday. I’m tired. Is it wrong to love having a job just to escape my kids from time to time? I mean, my job is awesome and loads of fun on its own…but (once I get over the initial dragging my ass into work blahs), sometimes its escapism. Sharkbait went to day care/pre-school, today and had a good day. Thank the gods…I about cringe, wondering what he did at school when I go to pick him up sometimes. The Hubby was adamantly against medication. As an ADHD kid in the 80’s and early 90’s he’d had the unfortunate experience of being put on too much Ritalin and feeling like a zombie. But after Sharkbait had problems at school and at home, even where we could go outside and play and have lots of hands on and unstructured time, and lets not even mention what it is like to try to go out to eat or something!
We finally decided to try a non-stimulant med to sort of smooth out the edgers of his behavior. It was like night and day. We adjusted his meds about three weeks ago, after noticing his sleep patterns were getting wonky again, and his behavior was going downhill at school and at home. One of the guys I work with has an older son with ADHD, and we’ve talked a bit…apparently, this is normal and his medication needs will shift quite a bit as he grows, gains weight, is more or less active. ARGH! I can’t believe we gave in and have resorted to drugging our kid.
…but it works (and its Friday, by the way). The goals of medicating kids with ADHD have changed. He’s not a zombie, and he’s so much easier to work with. He does much better at school. Before we tried medication, we tried behavior therapy (it helps–but it helps even more with meds…as clinical studies demonstrate), we tried diet changes (the kid is the pickiest eater in the world), we tried outdoor time to the max (it helps, but its not practical every single day for 2-3 hours during the winter for two working parents), we tried…just about everything else. And it didn’t work for us. I’m not sure why I think I need to justify my decision to anyone…but I know that if I actually post this, there will be that one person that thinks they know better. Maybe they read some alternative medicine BS (not all alternative medicine is BS, but some of it is), or maybe they had a kid that was misdiagnosed (and therefore all kids are being misdiagnosed), or maybe for their kid it really was food allergies…but they will know better. Part of me doesn’t care. But I try to be honest with myself, part of me does care. Regardless of what really causes ADHD, someone will think its because we are bad parents, because we’d rather drug our kid than parent them, because our idea of parenting conflicts with theirs.
Today is Sunday. …I’m not really sure what I want to say. Normally, with a post, I have a pretty straightforward topic to attack. This is messy, and its personal. Right now we are trying to get ready for church. Everyone is ready to go, except for Sharkbait. He was ready, but decided to take his pants and shoes off for the third time. The Hubby is wrangling him into clothing, again, and breakfast should be done in just a few minutes. We’ve had 2 meltdowns since 6 (Chickadee is at a friends sleeping over and Sharkbait let us sleep in for a change), one over the bird not wanting to play parrot and another over the box not being cooperative in making the roof of a house to play in. I’ve cleaned up at least a dozen messes from spills and tipovers, vacuumed twice, saved the bird from the frisbee-like Captain America shield four times, gotten the play dough down and put the paints up, and taken the paints back down and put the play dough up, and gotten the play dough down and put the paints up, and taken the paints back down and put the play dough up, enforced time out for Lego clean-up four times, and made the same bed 3 times. I’ve been doing this since 6 am—its 8:30 now.
I’ve been pondering how much (or if at all) I want to write about our experiences with the kidlet’s ADHD. I’m not afraid of controversy or criticism…but I’m not sure how much I want to open that part of our lives up to scrutiny. At the same time, as Pagan parents, maybe we do have another perspective and a new voice to add for other parents with ADHD, and for Pagan parents with kids with ADHD. So, I guess I’ll post this anyhow before I start writing about ADHD, and about our family beliefs and practices have had to change to accommodate Sharkbait as well as how having a child with ADHD has changed our beliefs, practices, and even our family dynamics to some extent…for better or worse.