I always try to look back and see how it started. For some reason, I think I can look back and find a point where something could have been different.
This is not a lifetime story, but an every day, at least once a day story.
Today, I heard Steve and Sally chatting in the kitchen while I was getting dressed in my bathroom. Soon after, I hear the bickering that includes Chaucer.
It’s often the girls screams that get to me. Although I know deep down that they are struggling like Steve and I are struggling. What do I do when he walks by and hits me? I know its not hard; it doesn’t hurt. It is aggravating and annoying, not abusive. What do I do when he snatches my cereal bowl?
With us parents, he isn’t as physical. It’s directed elsewhere. Kicking the counter as he sits on the stool. We try to ignore it. But he does it louder and faster and louder and faster and LOUDER AND FASTER AND LOUDER AND FASTER AND LOUDER AND FASTER until we can’t ignore it and ask him to stop. And he will stop because I don’t think he really wants to be doing it. And he really isn’t trying to be annoying.
After he has stopped for about a minute, he will start tapping his cereal bowl with his spoon. First he taps the bowl, then the counter, then the cereal box. We are trying to ignore it, because it really isn’t that bad, and we don’t want to constantly be negative. But then it gets to be louder and faster and he’s tapping more things and wiggling his body and he just can’t stop and the milk ends up spilled all over the counter.
So there is fussing about that and telling him to JUST BE STILL. He is up because the milk is on the chair and walking around the room eating bites. We tell him to sit down and he sits down but forgets thirty seconds later and is trying to eat part of his breakfast while he is walking the top of the back of the couch as if on a high wire. He hasn’t eaten much, he is barely at an acceptable weight and soon his medicine will kick in.
The medicine that will calm him. The medicine that will help him control his body. The ironical (is that a word) medicine that is a stimulant, yet slows our boy to a normal speed. The medicine that we fret about giving him, wondering what the long term affects will be. The medicine that makes him not hungry. The medicine that makes him go all day without eating.
His attention deficit disorder also makes him not able to read his body signals, which affects everything from eating to running to talking. So at some point, our happy boy turns instantly into a starving, crabby, not functioning human being because he hasn’t had anything to eat.
With his medicine, he is successful at home and at school. He doesn’t get yelled at, fussed at, and most interactions are positive and he is able to be the person he wants to be for about 6-8 hours. He has dyslexia, and school is not his strong suit, so this medicine is nearly a miracle in this sense.
He is very physical, and very athletic. His medicine slows him down, makes his reactions slower. This is not a bonus in the sports arena. Except it helps him focus, and stay in the game.
He doesn’t like his medicine. Not because of how it makes him feel, but because he knows we don’t like to give it to him. He knows we are torn; we wish he didn’t need it. He wants us to be proud of him. He wants to please us. He senses that it is a bad thing to need this medicine.
At a conference we attended yesterday, my eyes welled with tears at what my child is going through. He wants to feel normal. He wants to settle down. He wants to do well. He doesn’t want to have a million negative interactions. From what I understand, the serotonin (I think) needs to get from cell to cell to help us make good decisions, to help our brain function fully, to help us concentrate. In the ADHD brain, the serotonin can not make this transfer. That is why stimulants help. They stimulate the chemicals in the brain to make this transfer from cell to cell faster, which in turns make them able to make better judgements and stay focused. He literally needs stimulating to slow down.
So when he is jumping, or kicking his foot on the counter, or tapping things, or chanting...... he is literally trying to jump start his body. He is not trying to be annoying. He doesn’t understand what is going on.
So, back to him now not sitting at breakfast. He has had several admonitions already and he hasn’t been up 15 minutes. He is upset and says he doesn’t want to eat. This happens many mornings. His Dad is telling him he needs to eat. He is a very little guy, and we know he wont eat the rest of the day. They get into power struggles nearly every morning.
If we give him his medicine before breakfast, he won’t eat at all. The alternative is these struggles every morning. For several months, we had him sit at the table by himself to eat breakfast, away from the girls. This seemed to work better for everyone, until I was talking with him one night in bed and he told me how much it hurts him not to be able to just sit and have breakfast with his family before he goes to school. He feels punished and isolated.
I often feel like a terrible parent who can’t control her kids. I have tried so many things. Somehow I need to change my attitude. I need to accept we have a different family and are fighting different challenges than most. I am embarrassed that we can’t sit down and have a meal even though our kids are 12, 10, and 8. I need to let go of what others think. Almost every meal is a struggle and a negative, barking experience.
My husband and I went to a talk on ADHD and executive function. They talked a lot about the make up of the brain and the things that didn't happen with ADHD - like self talk, and the synapses that didn't transfer from one cell to the other to help make less impulsive decisions and that adhd brains had normal feelings but not normal responses and other stuff like this. What we really wanted to know was how to keep Chaucer from dropping his dirty socks on his sisters breakfast plates and how to make sure he had shoes on by the time he got to school and how to teach him the difference between his backpack and a garbage can and how to walk past another person without trying to trip them.
I tried to google ADHD and always get descriptions and symptoms or technical brainy information. Today I was searching for anecdotal experiences that might sooth my aching heart. I couldn’t find any, so I sat down to write one of my own. I am having trouble closing this out. There is no redemption here, no solutions. Just an ever present desire to help my family and my children. I take a minute to breathe deeply and show gratitude for our family. These challenges are better than walking through the world alone.