I’ve seen a post lately on Facebook that says something like “these kids today…they call it ADD when in my day it was just called “being a kid” or maybe they just need a good whippin'”. I’m sure it’s meant in jest or as humor. But it’s not funny to me. My son has ADHD.
My smart, cute, sarcastic, sensitive, funny, loving, short-tempered, athletic son has severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
I see celebrities and other people on TV or in online articles protesting medicating children. They say we shouldn’t drug them, that ADHD (and a few other disorders) can simply be treated by behavior modification, patience, diet changes, etc. I have two words for them. And I won’t print them here.
From the time my son was born I noticed he was different. Now, let me preface this by saying that I had Maddie to compare him to. How can I explain Maddie? She’s smart. Very smart. Smarter than me…always has been. She spoke in complete sentences at 17 months. She preferred CNN to Blues Clues. She is an anomaly to me. Her father’s daughter for sure. So having to be her younger sibling is no piece of cake I’m sure. I bet my brother and sister can relate. HAHAHAHA
But Andy was never ever able to sit still or concentrate or focus. Never. He was aggressive and frustrated most of the time. From first grade through fourth grade we tried everything. We tried behavior modifications, diet changes, time outs, special seating in the classroom, anything and EVERYTHING to avoid medication. It was painful to watch and frustrating to know my child was capable of so much and yet his “behavior” held him back. But all the “noise” I heard convinced me that if I drugged my child I was a bad parent. And then…an adult friend of mine opened my eyes. She had struggled with ADHD since she was young and her parents had chosen not to medicate her. Her grades suffered. When she went to college she decided to get herself on medication and it made all the difference in the world and she wished she had had the medication all through school. What a jackass I had been. I let the opinions (and we all know about those) of other people keep me from doing what was in the best interest of my child.
We were really left with no alternative by fifth grade. So after a battery of tests with different doctors who confirmed that Andy’s numbers were off the charts for ADHD I agreed to drug my child. I felt guilty and sick and worried and like I was poisoning him or something. And then something happened…..
Andy’s grades got better, his teachers noticed he sat still and focused better, he was happier, he was more pleasant to be around, and he was still my funny boy. What a moron I’d been for listening to assholes who probably did not live one day with a child with ADHD. Medication is not for everyone with ADHD. It’s not. It may not work for some kids and I’m no expert on all of that but I know one thing- it works for my kid. Parenting is a crap shoot. It’s a daily game of Russian roulette where you roll the dice and hope you are making the right decisions. I’ve made more than a few parenting mistakes. For instance I let Andy eat dog food for a few days straight when he was a toddler and thought he was a dog. I was tired and it was full of protein so whatever. I may or may not have given my kids Benadryl when they were not exactly sick. I believe I have uttered the words “you will never use Algebra in your life so why are you stressing over it?” a few times. I also MIGHT have let my children drive my Jeep…it was in the woods and no one but the deer were in danger so sue me. Oh and during my pregnancy with Maddie I saw that letting your fetus listen to music like Mozart or Beethoven was good for increasing IQ. I could not stomach that crap so for 9 straight months I sang Slim Shady very loudly in my car. Everyday. Hey- she turned out Ok so don’t judge.
Point is I’m doing the best I can. And I know it’s human nature to judge others. Hell- before I had kids I was the person in the restaurant wondering what kind of idiot parent let their kids run wild and wreak havoc in a public place. Now I know those poor parents were just thrilled to be outside of their house in the midst of other adults and most likely unaware of the chaos their children were causing. Cuz you know it’s a scientific fact that once you have kids you can’t hear children’s screams/whines/crying.
Every child is different. Every parent is different. We all make the very best decisions we can for our kids with the information we have. And that’s our job. But I do know that ADHD is real. It’s real and it’s frustrating and it’s treatable. Thank God. For every kid that has to work a little bit harder than the others- YOU ARE AWESOME! For the ones that want to judge…..bless your heart.