Following Bunny Trails

“I don’t have ADD, it’s just that…OhLookAKitty!”


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Psychoanalyzing Life’s Crappy Parenting Moments

Hello readers!  It’s been a long time since the last post in Following Bunny Trails.  As I wrote in a few previous posts, I have decided to go back to college.  And as I’ve been barreling full speed ahead, I often think of my Bunny Trails and its readers.  But going to school full time, year-around, has left me little free time.  So I would like to offer up a bit of my writing from my Intro to Psychology class.  This piece was asked for us to analyze a situation that was stressful and to write about what you might have changed, and what you would not have changed.  With citations and sources, of course.  This was written over a year ago, and I just found it today.  It is perfect for Following Bunny Trails.

Observing Emotional Behavior

Summary

I knew it was a bad idea from the beginning.  I had a lunch date with my friend, they were becoming few and far between.  She and I had first met when our sons were 2-years-old and attending a local education center for therapy.  Her son was ahead of schedule with his speech, but was there to refine his motor skills, and while my son had all the motor skills of a gymnast, he could hardly say a word.  We were fast friends.  She has a degree in early childhood education, so I glean as much advice as I can from her.  She is familiar with children with ADHD, and is patient and loving with my son.  When the opportunity for a lunch date arose, I leapt at the chance.  Her son had school, but since the boys attended in different schools, mine had a teacher in-service.  I had to bring my children along on our lunch date.  Lunch went as well as it could, with my daughter in her high chair, and my son blocked on the inside of our booth.  He only crawled under the table a dozen times, his best restaurant behavior yet.  When Josie suggested going to Kohl’s afterward, I immediately stiffened up.  My son hasn’t had a successful shopping trip in a long time.  He was behaving relatively well at the restaurant, and I did have a 30% discount coupon burning a hole in my pocket, so we gathered my children and headed to the store.

 

I gave my son the usual, “please behave in this store, use your inside voice, no running or you’ll have to ride in the cart,” pre-shopping lecture.  He either misunderstood or was tired, and he immediately climbed into a cart with two seats.  I didn’t argue, and I pushed both kids through the store.  I picked out some Marvel Super Hero underwear that he desperately needed, and he begged for a shirt with a trophy on it, so he could be a “winner.”  About 15 minutes into the shopping, he began to start squirming in his seat.  He climbed out to get a better look at a shirt, and I cajoled him back into the cart; we were coming to the end of his ability to be in the store.  There’s something about the lights, the sounds, all the merchandise with the colors and stimulus, it just sets him off every time.  I headed to the checkout because I knew my time was up.  My son started grabbing merchandise as we strolled by it, once causing us to nearly collide with a very unappreciative lady and her well behaved daughter.  I started warning my son of the impending removal of privileges, starting with the activities I dislike the most, his video games.  It was pointless, he was gone:  my son had left the proverbial building, and the only thing left was impulses gone awry.  Threats weren’t working, his behavior was deteriorating by the moment.  I decided, out loud, that I could and would not reward this type of behavior by purchasing nice new super hero undies or a new shirt.  He did not heed my warnings, and I ditched the underwear on a shelf.  He saw me bailing out his precious items from our cart, and went ballistic.  By the time we reached the checkout lane, he was screaming, crying, and then he leapt from the cart and ran out of the store and into the mall.  I was completely humiliated, angry, sweaty and red faced, as I ditched the few remaining purchases and handed my daughter to Josie so I could, pursue my son, who had disappeared around the corner.  I had to carry the screaming, thrashing 6-year-old, who made a scene all the way out the doors.

Interpretation

I have never been very good at disguising my emotions, as suggested by Thomas Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic:  Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (Phelan, 2010).  He states that “The two biggest mistakes that parents and teachers make in dealing with children are: Too Much Talking and Too Much Emotion.” According to Phelan, discipline should be a “matter of fact” process, the child is suffering a consequence because they made the wrong choice, not because you are angry at them.  He also repeatedly mentions that children feed off our emotions, and if they can figure out how to “get your goat” they will (Phelan, 2010).  By the time Josie met me outside the building, I was nearly in tears, with a howling wreck of a child on my lap.  She calmly took my son, and handed my daughter to me.  She put him on her lap and hugged him tight until he calmed enough to hear her speak.  She spoke softly and reminded him how much his mommy loved him, and then she somehow managed to change the subject and got him to talk to her about stickers.  She promised him a sticker, they were in the trunk of her car, which was parked right next to mine.  I buckled him up, without a word, and turned around in my seat and sat clutching the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white.  I counted to ten, then to twenty, while she gave my son a sticker, which I had to fight the impulse to wrench it out of his hands and tear the sticker into bits.  He didn’t deserve that sticker after his behavior, ie. what he had just put me through.  My daughter must have been stunned by the whole incident, but she finally “came to” as I pulled out of the parking lot.  She started crying, and no offer of her sippie cup, stuffed animal, or snack would calm her.  I turned the radio on and drove home with a wailing daughter, and pouting son.

Discussion

Now that the incident is past, and I am no longer flooded with emotion, I can look back and identify some mistakes that I had made while under duress.  First of all, children’s tantrums are generally short lived, they go on with their lives and resume play, while the parents’ are left to stew about it.  I regret that I allowed my frustration to show and for my anger to last after the conflict was over.  Our textbook, Psychology, an Exploration by Saundra K. Ciccarelli and J. Noland White, explains that a human’s autonomic nervous system involuntarily reacts physiologically to stress.  The sympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the fight or flight response) reacts by secreting the hormone cortisol, which in turn raises heart rate, stimulates the sweat glands, slows down digestion, and sends energy to muscles to deal with the situation (Ciccarelli & White, 2010).   This is why I was sweaty and red-faced, even though I remained relatively composed during the episode in the store, the cortisol may have also been a contributing factor as to why it took a while for me to “get over” the incident.  My second regret was that I had thought that threatening to lose his precious purchases would motivate him into good behavior, and once it didn’t work, I felt it necessary to follow through with my “threat.”  My emotional state in the store clouded my judgment, and I now realize that by using the loss of his purchases as punishment, I was only adding to his frustration, and making a child who is already feeling out of control, feel even more so.  When under pressure, it is easy to forget what we know, that children this age are not able to think logically, and revert to our emotional response of, “why isn’t his reward enough motivation to make him behave?”   I later apologized to Josie for inadvertently making the situation worse.  She explained that a young child has an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which regulates emotion and social behavior, and when they are having a temper tantrum, the thought process is moved from this “rational” region of the brain, to the more “primal” part of the limbic system, the amygdala.  I found an article on Parenting.com that supports Josie’s explanation of my son’s thought process during a tantrum.  The author of the e-article, P. Onderko, states that the prefrontal cortex is just beginning to mature at age 4.  She further explains that children think “magically, not logically,” and that events that are ordinary for us, may be confusing or scary for a child.  Water draining from a bathtub, for example, may trigger a fear that they could be sucked into the drain along with the water.

In conclusion, though I readily admit that I made mistakes in this situation, there were a few things that I would probably not have changed, given a chance to do it all over again.  Though my body became sweaty and red-faced, I did not scream or physically threaten my son.  I remained as calm as possible, even though it was obvious that I was emotionally distressed.  I knew that I did not have time to stop and use “counting” as a stress coping mechanism.  All of my previous experiences with my son told me that I needed to remove him from the store as soon as possible.  I learned from previous failures not to attempt to take him into the bathroom and calm him, because the echo of the bathroom stimulates him even more.  I did use counting and music to calm myself, and the music eventually soothed my daughter on the ride home from the store.  I have sought out ways to improve our next shopping trip, and I am considering trying the suggestion by T. Phelan.  He states you can enforce a good behavior by giving a child a set amount of money to spend at the store, make sure to give it to them in dollars and quarters, and then tell them that they will lose $.25 or $.50 for each outburst, or undesirable behavior (Phelan, 2010).  He recommends this for an age where money actually has a value; my son is getting there, he knows that money buys toys and treats.  This might work better for a long car ride to a vacation destination, but I am unsure if this will work on a shopping trip.  ADHD complicates our specific situation because once he becomes stimulated, any rational thought processes that a 6-year-old has, is completely drowned out by his state of restlessness and anxiety from the stimulation, so for now, we are only chancing very brief trips to the local market.

 

Works Cited

 

Ciccarelli, S. K., & White, J. N. (2010). Psychology: An exploration. (2nd ed., p. 319). Pearson Education Inc.

Onderko, P. (2011, November). Why toddlers throw temper tantrums. Retrieved from                       http://www.parenting.com/article/toddler-temper-tantrums

 

Phelan, T. W. (2010). 1-2-3 magic: effective discipline for children 2-12. (4th ed.). Parentmagic, Inc.        Retrieved from http://www.123magic.com/Newsletter/Newsletter-April-2013

 

 


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Best-Laid Plans

The semester ended a week before Christmas.  I made it, survived, just barely squeaked by with a C in Statistics!  The big plan was to prepare for Christmas, and to send out cards with lots of letters catching up with loved ones.  The goal was to spend lots of time with the kids, baking cookies, making candy, playing educational games, etc.   My “to do” list included fixing, gluing, painting, cleaning, selling, and organizing.  And I had planned on writing several Bunny Trails posts, because I quickly found that I don’t have time to write them during the school semester. Well, you know what they say about “best-laid plans.”

My semester ended and the boy still had a week to go before his winter break.  I had a wrap-a-thon and checked off the first item of my to-do list.  Then I packed for our visit to friends and family, whom remain in the city we moved from a decade ago.  Gifts were exchanged, people were caught up on current family events, and we raced home as an ice storm was following close behind.  Only a couple of hours after we reached our homestead and unloaded the car, our world was glazed with a half-inch of ice.  The destructive ice came, downed trees and powerlines, and melted within 24 hours.  We were lucky; a mere 30 miles north of us had hundreds of thousands of people without electricity, some for days and even throughout Christmas.

The day after racing the ice storm home was the hubby’s much anticipated, annual family Christmas gathering.  We had a great time as usual, kids running around willy-nilly while the adults play catch-up and stuff our faces with pot luck food.  But in the hours following the party, hubby spent most of the overnight awake, making several trips to the bathroom.   He was feverish and exhausted, so I got up with the kids.  When he was able to crawl out of bed, it was my turn to crawl in.  I spent the rest of the afternoon feverish and ill.  We had been stricken by a noro/roto-type virus on Christmas Eve eve.  I rallied on Christmas Eve to do some shopping for food and supplies, and picked us up some fast food because I was not feeling spry enough to cook, yet the kids still needed to eat.  Hardly anybody picked at their supper, what a waste of money!  I fell ill again immediately after eating, duh-you don’t eat fast food after being sick!  Hubby got better and the kids only had a few symptoms but, for some reason, it clung to me for a while.  Christmas night was the worst, I hardly slept a wink.  When I awoke and realized the nasty virus had run its course, I suffered a headache all day.  I didn’t care, I’d take the headache over the stomach virus any day!  But alas, the headache morphed overnight into sore throat, swollen tonsils, and a deep cough.

So my best-laid plans dissolved into three weeks of sickness.  No cookies were baked, no candy made, no games played, none of my to-do’s crossed off the list.  School resumes for the boy tomorrow, and next week my college courses resume with a whole new schedule.  There is a silver lining to these events though.  I’m grateful that the illness struck between semesters; I can’t imagine attempting the course load I have ahead of me, while being this sick.  Besides, the children have no idea that they were gypped out of any holiday traditions.  They had a relaxing vacation with lots of TV watching, video gaming, and very few demands made of them.  All in all, a pretty darn good holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I Miss My Bunny Trails!

Wow, there’s a lot that has been going on since I wrote last.  I can’t exactly bring my audience up to date, but this is more of a “dropping a note” to let everybody know that I have not fallen off the face of the Earth.  I have been swallowed by the vortex called being a full-time college student and a full-time mom!  In fact, I am choosing to write in my blog, rather than doing an English assignment.  I have a feeling that there will be regret later tonight when I’m scrambling to complete my assignment by the deadline.

I decided to go back to college, and jumped in with both feet. “Mommy’s taking a full course-load, so no, I can not build blocks with you right now.”  My second attempt at college was never written about, but it was much more successful than the first.  The classes were much manageable than my first attempt.  I guess I thought I could graduate from a class C high school and then immediately take English, Intro Chemistry (I did not take this in high school), Biology, and Sociology.  As I wrote in an earlier post, my first semester as an 18-year-old at NMU was an (education) disaster.  My second attempt was during my mid 20’s.  I attempted Delta Jr. College, and did much better.  I can give credit to my age, but mostly it was because I took computer sciences instead of 4-year-college “Freshman Weeder” courses.  In my mid-20’s, I still preferred spending time with my friends over doing school work, so I did withdraw from a couple of courses that I got behind in.  Accounting and Computer Programming Logic courses were two of the most boring, not-for-me courses, that i have ever withdrawn from!  But the classes I completed at Delta were all A’s and B’s.  Exactly NONE of those courses transferred to my new school and new major.  (We’ll talk about my major in a later post.)

Here I am today, completing my first semester of my third (and last) attempt, with 2 more weeks until finals.


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College Attempt #1

In high school I slid by as a, pretty much, straight C student.   I listened in class and did well on tests, but hardly turned in any completed homework.  I have no idea why, now that i think about it; I had nothing better to do with my time.  My parents hardly allowed any TV, and I was on restriction most of my high school career because of poor grades.  I guess it’s just this lovely sanguine personality I was born with, this compounded with ADD, and you have a social butterfly who was perfectly content talking on the phone, sneaking TV,  reading novels or daydreaming in my bedroom.  I graduated high school when I was 17 and immediately went to a 4-year party school (completely unprepared for the work load) and partied my way right out.  (I have no regrets, I met my husband and many good friends for years to come!)   You see, my parents were very very (did I mention VERY) strict, and as soon as I felt that freedom after graduation, I ran with it!  I pretty much did what I wanted.  Of course, I was raised well, so I had my limitations.   I ended up leaving the college after two semesters, with hardly any transferable credits and several thousand dollars of student loan debt.  (Again, I regret not finishing a degree, but definitely do not regret my college days!)

The hubby and I dated for exactly one year before marrying.  We came to a point where we could no longer afford to maintain separate residences, and we couldn’t bear the thought of breaking our mothers’ hearts and living together pre-maritally.   We knew we wanted to get married, but we didn’t have the money for that either.  So we did what we thought was best, and we eloped.   He was in a fraternity at the time, and his frat “big brother” lived locally, and his dad was a judge.  We got our marriage license and were married 3 days after he asked me.  We married in the judge’s back yard, on the deck of his pool, and then celebrated afterward with a keg of beer that we weren’t old enough to even drink.  It was summer vacation, so only a few of our friends were still in town to help us celebrate.   We broke the news to our parents later.

Hubby still attended college and we moved into married housing on campus.   He was the station manager at the college radio station, which had just gone FM and was the hottest thing around.  Between weekends with frat brothers and his undying love and commitment to the radio station (which meant him getting up at all hours of the night and taking over the broadcast when the next DJ didn’t show up for his shift) hubby eventually started getting behind in his studies, and ended up not finishing his degree.   But I’ve got to give him credit, he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up and he got a lot farther than I did in school.   He got a job at the local radio station and I worked as a home health aid (after all, my prospective degree was supposed to be something in the medical field, I knew that much at least.)  We stayed in the college town for a few more years, until the radio station put him on salary and ran him ragged for so many hours that we realized he was earning around $3.75/hr.  It was time to move on.

*Acknowledgments:

To my suitemates and the dormmates below me:   I’m sorry for all the noisy parties I subjected you to, while you were trying to get an education.

To my mother-in-law:  Thank you for forgiving me for stealing your firstborn and robbing you of your first wedding event for your children.  To my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, thank you for having big weddings that made up for us having robbed your mother.

To my mother:   Sorry for robbing you of your only child’s wedding, but you did get two super-cute grandkids out of the deal! (eventually)

To hubby’s frat brothers:  I promise you that we don’t blame you one Theta Iota for our not finishing college!

To my mom again:  Thank you for teaching me about the much-argued-over temperament studies, for without them I would have hated myself, and probably others, much more.   It fostered an understanding of different personalities, and why people are how they are.


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Going Back to School

Kindergarten, Buckeye AZ

Kindergarten, Buckeye AZ (Photo credit: Mennonite Church USA Archives)

Much has changed over the summer.  I wrote in the previous post about how busy it’s been, but it has also been a time of discovery.  I recently enrolled myself in the local junior college.  I have arranged my school schedule so that I will be in a classroom for only 6 hours a week.  (Which leaves me taking my Intro to Statistics class on line, yikes!)  When I tell people that I am going back to college, the first question out of their mouth is always, “how are you going to homeschool?”   Well, I’m not.   I really have mixed feelings about sending the boy back to school for Kindergarten.  There wasn’t the big growth and developement spurt that I had hoped would happen over the summer.  There wasn’t an amazing ADHD medicine or cure discovered, we tried yet another stimulant medication, and it made him not be able to go to sleep for two days.   I didn’t teach him to read, though we did some flash cards and he’s got his upper and lower case ABC’s down pat.  I read to him some of “The Magic Treehouse” series, and lots of nature books and magazines.  We did some rythem games, which are said to stimulate parts of the brain that need to be stimulated in the ADHD child.  But mostly, it was just summer vacation.  We were outdoors often, but the mosquitoes or the sun or the rain caused us to have plenty of days where we played too many video games, and watched too much tv.   I wasn’t as industrius with the boy as I had hoped to be.

In a way, I feel like I’m throwing my son to the wolves -so to speak- by sending him to the local public school.  Not that there is anything wrong with public school, I just am afraid that this year will be the same as last year, and he’s going to be spending more time outside of the classroom, trying to get himself under control, than actually sitting in the classroom and learning.   I am actually pretty stressed about it.  He is still the same squirmy, falling out of his seat over and over, can’t make eye contact or pay attention, kid that was unsuccessful at school last year.   The whole point of requesting the Positive Behavioral Assessment was to get the boy the help he needs to be able to stay in school for an entire day, and actually learn the criteria.  The results of the assessment were that he would have anywhere from 1/2 hour to 3 hours with a special education teacher every day.  I don’t feel that this will be enough, what will happen with the rest of the time?  All I know, is that my son has a right to an education, and I will push for the help that he needs.  The school is going to hate me.   I will be there on the first day of school, requesting a review of his education plan and requesting an Occupational Therapist to do a “sensory profile” on the boy.  (I am absolutely positive that he is very sensitive to noises, lights, large spaces, he has been since infancy… which is one of the reasons why I wanted to home school him in the first place.)

Why am I giving the public school system a try, rather then home schooling?  Social, social, social!  Many homeschooling moms would beg to differ.  There are all kinds of organizations for moms to get their homeschooled children with other homeschooled children.  I have researched and found some in our area, but I have not been able to contact any of these moms over summer vacation, so I am not positive that he will be able to have social interaction on a daily basis.  Over the summer I have slowly watched my son’s social skills decline.  I have watched him “build a bird’s nest” at the base of a slide and then proceed to yell at the children to not slide down the slide and ruin his nest.  It took me several minutes to convince him to build it out of the way, and to tell him that it’s not nice to yell at the children, and that the slide is for everybody.   Then he built the nest behind the slide and yelled at the kids that ran by his nest…*sigh.   The other reason is schedule, schedule, schedule!  I try to have us on a schedule, but I have found that when mommy and son spend every minute of the day together, son tends to buck up against mommy’s authority…almost constantly.  I have tried the sing-song voice, the “lets make it fun” technique, the “it’s 10:00, this is what time we do ___, every day,” and the offer of rewards.    I have found out that if it’s not fun for him, it’s going to be torture for me.  So for the time being, I am going to allow the trained professionals to do what they’re trained for.   Wish us all luck, I think we’re going to need it.


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Adding another food to the “Do Not Eat” list

We have had the busiest summer I can ever remember!   The boy turned six, we’ve traveled, we’ve had the flu, I’ve had jewelry parties, I’ve dabbled in cake baking, I’ve applied to the local college, etc.   We always enjoy traveling, but for the last three weeks the boy has had those tell-tale shiny eyes.  Along with the shiny eyes usually comes behaviors and difficulty sleeping.   It’s hard to detect behaviors on vacation, because we all tend to run around wearing loin cloths and being crazy when we’re camping and swimming and playing.  It’s hard to see sleep patterns when we don’t attempt to put our children down until our host’s children are ready for bed.   But once we came home and our schedules resumed, the ADHD symptoms were out of control.  Poor kid, I tried to have a conversation with the boy and it was like talking to Stevie Wonder!  He would look left, right, up, down, never stopping to glance at my eyes.  I saw him struggling and asked him to repeat a few things that I felt were important for him to actually hear.  He said, “I don’t know, can you tell me again?”  I’d tell him again and ask him to repeat.  He’d get it completely wrong.  I’d tell him again, but this time I would say a few words and ask him to repeat the words.   Wow, what is going on?  I haven’t allowed him to eat any dye, even on vacation.  His birthday cake was mostly white & natural colors, and the parts with food coloring were not served to the boy (let the other kids eat it- oops, not nice!)2013-07-05 22.52.19  So what is causing this?  I did some research on line, punching into the search bar the foods most consumed over the span of our vacation, and there it was.  TBHQ, short for tertiary butylhydroquinone, a food preservative used in McDonald’s chicken nuggets and other prepackaged foods.  Wow, my son and daughter consumed McDonalds chicken nuggets almost daily while on vacation!   What is this TBHQ, that seems to cause reactions in AHDH children?  Why, it is yet another “approved for human consumption” petroleum byproduct!

I understand that the FDA has tested the preservatives and dyes before approving them for human consumption.  I am not a consperecy theorist, I only know  what I am experiencng with my own child with rather severe ADHD.  And I see that my son is reacting to something that he is consuming, and once I remove these foods from his diet, he seems much more calm and better behaved.  According to the FDA, you should not consume more than 300+ McNuggets in any given day, it may cause nausea, dizzyness and confusion.  In other words, an infentescimally small ammount is allowed to be used in our foods.  But “I sees what I sees!”   We have removed products containing the preservative, TBHQ, for the last two weeks, and though ADHD is everpresent, the boy no longer appears to be compulsed to do and say naughty things as if he had no control at all.    In my opinion, if your child struggles with a disease or malady, it’s best not to exascurbate it.  No more McDonalds McNuggets for us.


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Much Ado About Nothing

Sorry I’ve been so inconsistent about writing my blog posts lately.  You know how busy summers can be, right?  The boy turns 6 this Saturday and has requested a Wild Kratts cake.  He also requested a Dragonvale Cake, yes, as in the app… my son has turned into a gamer against my will.  But in the end, he said he preferred the Wild Kratts.  But I digress… [bunny trail]   I really left you hanging on my last post, so I will fill you in on what we decided to do about the stimulant medication prescribed by the psychiatrist.

Yesterday was our second appointment with the psychiatrist.  I was all stressed out because of the warning from the behavioral specialist.   When I told her that I wanted to approach our son’s ADHD from a natural standpoint, because of the epic failure of the previous medications, the specialist told me that if the doctor takes the time and effort to diagnose and prescribe a medication for the boy, she’s going to want us to give it to him.  Then she added that if we refuse to take her direction, she would tell us to go to another doctor.   So I’ve been stressing out because I intensely dislike my son taking a stimulant medication.  The side effects are not worth the hour or two you get of the boy being able to sit still.   So, of course, I procrastinated getting the prescription filled.   I finally decided that I would give him the medication for a couple of days, just to say I gave it to him.  Besides, what if this was the one medicine that finally worked, I would hate to deny him something that could possibly help him.   I took the prescription to Target pharmacy.  They didn’t have any, they would be able to fill it on Tuesday.  Uh oh… the doctor appointment is on Monday!   So I took my prescription back and headed to Walmart.  They didn’t have any of the medication either.  Next I called the two Meijer stores in our town.  None available.   On Friday I needed to do some shopping, so I thought I’d give Meijer a try again.  They told me that they couldn’t fill the prescription, then they looked closer and saw that it was only written for 5 tablets.  They said they had exactly 5 tablets.   Saturday was the usual whirlwind of activity and the medication was completely forgotten about until it was too late to take one.   Sunday morning I asked hubby if we should medicate the boy before church, just so we had two days of seeing its effects before reporting to the psychiatrist Monday afternoon.   He said that the boy had been looking forward to fishing at grandpa’s house so much, and he didn’t want the medicine to ruin his fun.  So we decided that we would give the medication on Monday and observe closely before reporting.   I am so glad that we decided not to medicate on Sunday, for two reasons.  Reason number 1 was that the boy was extremely good at church, and if we would have medicated him, the drugs would have gotten the credit.  And reason number 2 was because there was an incident where some wasps were making a nest under grandpa’s floating dock and kept flying up between the dock boards and investigating us.  This terrified the boy so badly that he began screaming and shrieking and sobbing and drooling.   In other words, this extremely intense emotional display would have been credited to the medication, had we given it to him.

Monday morning we woke up and I gave the 1/2 pill of the 5mg Dexedrine, as prescribed.  Within an hour I watched the boy become instantly energized, the drug had kicked in.  He bounced out of his chair and said with wild eyes, “What are we going to do?”  ‘I’m bored!”   I reminded him that Monday was mom’s big cleaning day, and I would really love if he could help me.  “Noooo!” he shrieked.  Ok, here we go with the intensity that comes with the stimulant medication, I think to myself (as if the boy weren’t intense enough without medication!)   I try to make a game of picking up the toys and throwing them into his sister’s shopping cart.  “Let’s go shopping for toys!”  “Nooooo, that’s boring!”  he cries.   Then the excessive talking started.  He was excitedly talking about some nature program he had found on the Xbox streaming.  The phone was ringing and he didn’t miss a beat, running his words together and hardly taking a breath.  I give the signal that I’m about to be on the phone.  He missed the cue and kept right on jabbering, so I keep the conversation short.   I start cleaning the house.  Now you know that children often claim to be bored on summer vacation, they often lay around and moan and groan about not having anything to do, but my son was literally screaming, “I’m bored!”  “I’m soooo bored!”   So I set up the tiny pool I just bought, pour in 1 bag of sand, scatter some cheap fake jewels I bought for a dollar at Michaels, pour the second bag of sand on top of the jewels, fill the pool with water, and teach the kids to “panhandle” for the precious gems.   I continued to clean the house, but the boy kept running inside and showing me the trinkets he found in the sand, leaving a trail of muddy water on the floor I was attempting to sweep and mop.   Oh well, the kids were busy and happy.

The psychiatrist appointment was at 4PM, and the pill had pretty much worn off, leaving an exceptionally calm boy.  I guess that’s one good thing about a stimulant.  It makes you go, go, go, and when it wears off, you’re exhausted.   We met the behavioral specialist in the waiting room and were called into the psychiatrist’s office fairly quickly.  The first thing the doctor asked was how the stimulant medication was going.   I told her that an hour after I gave it to him, he became very energetic.  That it seems as if his emotions are intensified, and I gave her the example of how a child complains of boredom, and how the boy was complaining earlier.   She asked if I felt that we were able to function as a family while the boy is unmedicated, and I said, yes absolutely.   We were medicating him so he could get an education and have acceptable behavior for school.  She said, “then don’t medicate him.”  What?  Excuse me?  She continued, “why don’t we see each other after the first week of school and see how he’s doing in class.”  I was still in shock.  I stammered, “Well, I was thinking of homeschooling him because he was just not able to handle the school environment at this point.”  The psychiatrist said, “Good.  I think he would do well with more one on one education time.”  I had to lift my jaw off my chest, my mouth had been hanging agape.  Saywhatnow?  I could not believe how easy this was.  How open she was to not using medication, how open she was to homeschooling!  I had been prepared for the worst.  I was prepared to discontinue seeing her if needs be.  I was prepared to be lectured about not giving the boy “the best quality of life” or how unfair it was to withhold a medication that would possibly give him control of himself and a better self esteem and a better education… all those things I had been told by teachers and other professionals.   She must have noticed the stunned expression on my face because she went on to say, “Well, obviously the normal ADHD medications are not working for him.  If there continues to be problems later on, we can give anti-psychotic medications a try if you’d like.  We usually don’t resort to those except in extreme cases because they have many side effects.  But lets just see how he develops over the summer.”  And she held out her hand, I automatically shook it and gathered up my papers and we left the appointment.  I should add that while the psychiatrist was talking I glanced over at the behavioral specialist and she had a shocked expression too.

A footnote:   The one day I tried the most recent stimulant medication, we had mixed results, both bad and good.  There were no severe side effects, no meltdowns, no mania.   I was reaffirmed in our decision to not medicate when my son crawled into bed with me at 3AM.  He was unable to sleep.   He kicked and wiggled and squirmed until I forcefully made him leave my room at 5:45AM.  Daddy just happened to be sleeping on the couch because he had a fever and stomach virus and had laid in bed all Monday.  His back was too sore to continue laying in bed.  Daddy got up at 6, when his alarm went off for work.  He got the boy some chocolate milk and turned on the TV to PBS cartoons; after all, you can lead a kid to bed, but you can’t make them sleep.  The boy got 5 hours of sleep last night, and today he has wide, glazy eyes and is behaving wildly.  We have not had a sleep issue in months, not since the last dose of stimulant medication.  Methinks this is going to be a long day.   And yet I’m so relieved that we are done with our trials with medication.