Following Bunny Trails

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


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Screaming Mimi

You know what can turn me from Mommy to Screaming Mimi in 2.5 seconds?  Running late!  I stink at time management!  And on top of that, I am a little bit of a self-perfectionist, so I’m really picky about  being on time for scheduled events.  It doesn’t matter how early I get up, if I lay out my clothes, if I pack the night before, if I set my keys and purse in the same place every night…  Some unforeseen circumstance is going to happen to make me late!  Where the heck are my keys?!!!!   Oh, they’re on the floor and  in my husband’s jeans that he wore yesterday, where else would they be?  Where are the baby’s shoes?!  One is in the yard and one is in the toy box, of course!

It’s even more complicated with young children who can’t dress or fend for themselves.  The 5, nearly 6-year-old is pretty capable of dressing himself by now, except he needs constant motivation to continue the process.  For example, he’ll put on his pants and then I find him playing in his room shirtless, sockless, shoeless.   The baby is obviously dependent on me, so there’s nothing I can say about that, other then the obligatory diaper blowout when we’re running late for something we absolutely can not be late for.   I have a doctor appointment this morning, so I help the boy finish putting on socks that suddenly grew too tight overnight  and get his shoes on the right feet, and leave to dress baby.  I hear the boy go outside, good start- easier to wrangle towards the car.  I finish dressing baby and I grab keys and bag, lock the door, and head to the car.  As we walk up the stairs, “Where Are Your Shoes?!” I can feel myself turning into a Screaming Mimi.  Set the baby down, (back starting to get tired) unlock house, locate shoes, scold boy for walking around the yard in white socks.  I finish and see baby girl sitting in the flower bed gleefully grabbing handfuls of dirt.  I scoop up baby, dust her off & continue to the car, while barking “Go, go, go” like a drill sergeant to the boy, who is suddenly interested in every ant hill and piece of vegetation in our yard on the way to the driveway.   I’m hollering “Get in the car, Get in the car, Get in the car!”  The neighbors probably think I’m the meanest mom ever, but in my defense, when you have a child with ADHD, it happens on occasion that their brains are so busy taking in information from all around them and trying to process it, that you have to repeat something to them over and over before they actually hear it.   I climb into the car and buckle baby girl into her car seat while trying to coerce the boy to get into his and buckle up.  He can only buckle himself in when we’re not in a hurry, by the way.  I’m sweating now.  I drive, pressing the speed limit as far as I dare.  I get caught behind an elderly couple meandering their way through town driving 5 mph under the speed limit.  We arrive to my doctor appointment, I hustle the kids into the building, check in.   We’re 10 mins early.  My appointment was at 10:30, not 10:15.  Mimi sits down in the waiting room, catches her breath, and apologizes to the kids.

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Just Who’s Being Punished Here?

I was relieved when my son was old enough to put him in his room for time outs.  The naughty chair was not working.  I was just not equipped to ignore the flagrant attempts to get my attention from the time out spot; it was a huge source of frustration for me, and I think he might have known it.  Children have this innate sense of knowing just how to “get Mom and Dad’s goat!”

I mentioned in a previous post that at age 3 we incorporated “counting” into our discipline routine, apparently it tells the child just how long they have to keep up their behavior before punishment ensues.  So far we have discovered that we were never going to get the boy to sit still and do his time out “like a man,” because even way way before the official diagnosis of ADHD, we knew that he was completely unable to sit still.  He never had a “normal” response to spankings, he didn’t wince or cry or even change his course of action at all.  All spanking did was satisfy some need to let him know that he did not get away with his misdeed just because we allowed him to do cartwheels in his naughty chair for 3 minutes.  (The spanking is as satisfying as a Snicker’s bar:  your teeth ache, your stomach hurts, and you’re pissed at yourself for your lack of self control!)  We did find an effective discipline though.   The room.  The boy hated being put in his room with the door shut.  Even with the lights on, and a room full of toys, it was that separation from us and not being able to garner our attention, that really made the punishment terrible… all three minutes of it.

We counted, 1,2,3, go to your room.  We escorted him into his room and shut the door.   Now here’s the part where my opinion is different  than the opinion in most of the books that I read.  The boy would rage, and pound on the door, or throw toys at the door.  The books say to let them rage, the time out doesn’t start until they’re quiet.  I don’t believe that my 3-year-old should be allowed to rage and damage his toys or our door.  What happens when the child turns 15 and is still raging?  He or she damages computer or gaming equipment in stead of Spiderman figurines, holes in walls, fights with other children?  Rage is one of the few human emotions that society still expects us to stuff down and keep under control.  Nope, I’m going to count to three and if you’re still raging, you get a spanking.  Sorry folks if you disagree, but I’ve never heard of a person lying on a psychotherapist’s couch or climbing into a tower and gunning down students because they were spanked on rare occasions when they were completely out of control, and no other thing is going to get their attention at this point than a smack on the bottom with mom or dad’s bare hand.

Even though the book has been out for years, we had never heard of “1,2,3 Magic” until recently.   We were just doing our best with what we knew.  Come to find out, there’s a section devoted just to those challenging kids who rage when put into their room.  The book lovingly calls them “Room Wreckers.”   It suggests to remove all valuables, or special memories that may get destroyed, remove all objects that can cause junior harm & let them go to town.  You gently remind them that the time out starts when they’re quiet, after they finally calm down, you set the timer like usual.  The trick is that you don’t clean up after they trash the place, that only gives them the glee of getting to destroy your hard work the next time they’re put in their room.  At bedtime you let them try to find their bed and sleep in it “as is.”  Apparently the discomfort and disarray is a very good lesson in itself.  The next day you make them clean it up, with your assistance of course.   The book even includes advice for the, shall we call them, the excreters.   If your child is one that decided to “teach you a lesson” and potty on the floor, he/she can do the time out in the bathroom (make sure all medicines, cleaners and poisons are childproofed), simply because it’s easier to clean up.

Footnote:  This 1,2,3 method seems to work best with our child, one of my friends uses the Love and Logic method because it works with her son, and another friend uses the Nurtured Heart Approach with her son because it fits their personalities the best.  Each child responds differently to discipline and training, and unfortunately we all blunder and make mistakes.


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Discipline is a Guessing Game

Before you have kids, you know exactly how you will discipline them.  You’re either a “I’ll never spank my kid, my parents spanked me and…” or you’re a, “I’m going to spank because I know that when I thought I was going to get a spanking, I’d think twice before doing it!” type of person.  But then you have your cute little sweet bundle of joy, and he/she’s all yours, you can’t imagine inflicting pain on this little angel!  Then they turn a year and a half and they touch touch, twist, poke, pry, dig, ruin… all in the name of exploration.   You place all your glass and breakable treasures on the top shelf, so that junior doesn’t have to be redirected away from your lovelies 300 times a day.   The house looks like it was decorated by a team of interior designers that consist of a minimalist dwarf and eclectic giant!   By age two (two for girls, oftentimes three for boys) they are throwing fits, but you are still sticking with the “no spanking” rule (except for that time you tapped your daughter’s hand for getting into the kitty food for the 7,426th time while you were cooking dinner and she cried and gingerly touched her offended hand as if you beat her half to death, and you felt like total crap.)  But the boy…. ohhhhhh the stubborn boy!

At age two, when a child is developing their knowledge of right from wrong, we created the naughty spot.  Ours was a hideous avocado green velvet chair, it was garage-sale-retro-chic… in other words, very very used.   We would sit him in his naughty chair for a time out.  All the books, and I read a lot of them, say that a time out is supposed to last for as many minutes as the child’s age.  But our two minute time out’s turned into 20 minute battles, which often ended in a smack on the butt.  I gleaned advice from The Nanny’s books, Love and Logic, Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy, The Out of Sync Child, Nurtured Heart Approach & more!   Never had I met a child that was more strong willed than mine!  I know you are not supposed to compare children, but it actually physically pained me to see other children do their two or three minute time out and go back to playing, while my child struggled and fought with me, only causing the time out to drag on and on.  After weeks of consistently putting him back in the naughty chair and resetting the pink piggy kitchen timer, he learned to stay in the chair for the excruciatingly long two minutes.  I continued to battle with him over the way he sat in the chair though.  He would lay with feet up in the air, he’d squeak and make noises, he was moving moving moving constantly!   We eventually gave up on expecting him to do a time out like other children, and were forced to be contented with the fact that he was actually staying in the chair, even if he was turning it into his own amusement park ride!


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It Must be Working

I still chuckle to myself when I remember a humorous incident during a vacation to my girlfriend’s hometown.   We were walking to the park that sits at the beginning of downtown Douglas, Michigan’s quaint artisan district.  There was a group of friends enjoying some cocktails on the bistro’s patio in the beautiful spring evening.  They were good naturedly poking fun at the parents they hear at the park, degrading themselves as they yell to little Johnny, “One!  Two!…”   The ironic thing about this, is that when the guy loudly said, “One!”  My 4-year-old came to a complete halt!  He stopped dead in his tracks!  Well, I guess that’s proof that our 1,2,3 system is working.


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A Gruesome Tail

I dread the sound of the muffled “meow” at the front door, signaling that our pussycat has an animal in her mouth.   I love when she brings me dead moles, the fewer the better, their tunnels network throughout the yard and they have feasted on our tulip bulbs to the point that only three came up this year.   My son and I have taken to chasing her until she drops the baby bunnies out of her mouth, then my son goes into rescue mode, not realizing the bunny is letting him hold it because it has resigned itself to death.  Yesterday I didn’t hear the telltale squeal of a caught bunny and woke up to find its hindquarters and a pile of innards next to the rubber welcome mat on the front porch.   I quickly picked up the remains with grocery bags and expunged all evidence of this massacre before my son woke up.  Today was two moles (good girl!) and a robin.  I was disappointed about the robin and ran out the door to try to scare the cat into dropping it.  But as I stepped on the front porch, my bare foot was bespeckled with birdie arterial spray.  Wow, in all my years I’ve never witnessed anything so gruesome!  My son ran to see why I made a strangled coughing sound, and he saw the robin in kitty’s mouth.  He attempted to go out and rescue it, but I told him it was too late.  I reminded him that our cat was distantly related to tigers and lions, and this was only nature’s way.  He was pretty understanding about it.  But when the cat meowed to come in after her meal, I just couldn’t open the door for her.  I know that my cat is only the murder machine that nature designed, but  I just need a few minutes to recover.  By all means pussycat, come in, curl up on my lap, lick my face, Ack!  Do they make feline mouthwash?

hereBirdie


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Sensory Overload

I just had a conversation with the boy’s teacher.  There is a end of year  “program” that the Young 5 children are putting on, it is for parents to attend in the evening.  As gently as she could possibly put it, teacher suggested it might not be the best idea for the boy to be there.  I was just about to tell her that I didn’t think he should go to it anyway (I knew that there was huge potential for him to ruin it for himself and possibly others by being out of control), but it still stinks to hear her agree.  He now only attends school for half the day and  has taken several whole days off, so he’s not been practicing like the other children.   Plus, I found out that while the children were in the gym practicing raising and lowering the big colorful parachute in unison, and learning short lines for their presentation, my son was running around the gym like a wild maniac.  He’d run under the parachute whenever it was raised, or would jerk his handhold down while the kids were raising their portion of the parachute.  The teacher, fearing the expensive parachute getting ripped, had to separate the boy from the rest of the group.   By the end of their time in the gym, my son was clamping his hands over his ears and hollering at the top of his lungs.  Thankfully, his teacher has given him the benefit of the doubt all throughout the year (his being a sweet kid has helped) and suggested that she thinks he was doing it to drown out the noise and echo from the gym.  Unacceptable, nonetheless.

I have always known that the boy was easily stimulated by bright lights, large buildings and noises, but this year has shown me beyond a shadow of a doubt.  When the boy is around 7 months old, I took him to Ikea with a girlfriend.  Oh my gosh was this baby cute, I’m not just saying this because he’s mine, honestly.  We’d get all kinds of comments and “awwww”s from people passing by.   After about 2 hours of shopping in the giant warehouse, baby boy started fussing.  By the time we had gotten near the checkout, he was fully screaming at the top of his lungs!  No bottle, no cuddling, no snack, nothing would calm this baby down.  The cute “awwww”s had turned into dirty looks & I ended up abandoning my purchases and heading out to the car to pull it up for my friend.  Baby boy screamed for the entire hour and 20 minutes home.  He was completely overstimulated, no doubt about it.  Since then we’ve suffered meltdowns at just about every “super” grocery store, most malls, toy stores, you name it.

This year he was in a class with 22 children, including 4 or 5 other boys much like him.  His class is noisy!   At the beginning of the year, before any testing or final diagnosis was made about ADHD, the teacher attempted many different sensory tactics to calm the boy.  Among  them was a vinyl blue puppy that was full of heavy sand; she would place the weighted puppy in his lap to produce a sense of security and calmness.  He liked it at first, but then I think the novelty wore off.  They attempted rubber bands (like exercise bands) around the legs of his chair, something for him to fidget with; hand fidgets, an exercise ball in stead of a chair (this was played with too much, and he kept “prat-falling” off it), and a rounded inflatable disc that you place on the chair and the child sits on to slightly throw off core balance, causing the sitter to have to concentrate in order to stay upright… my boy fell over a lot.  I tell ya’, they get an “A” for effort!  I honestly just think the boy is too overstimulated in this classroom.  He doesn’t run around like a maniac or clap his hands over his ears and scream at a playground or park filled with children.  The school psychologist, who is testing him to make sure he’s academically on the mark- and he is, has told me that after he takes a few minutes to calm down, he seems to be much much less “stimulated” since we removed the ADHD medicine.  So for the time being, I will not take the boy shopping unless I absolutely have to.  And I am seriously considering home schooling next year.


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Not up to School’s Standards

The boy has not been able to attend school for an entire day ever since the doctor told us to take him off all ADHD medicines.  We took several days off of school after the Psychotic Break.  It was actually difficult to convince him to go back.  On his first day back, they sent him home after lunch, or was it before, I don’t remember.   He was just too hyper and disrupted the class to the point where no teaching was getting done.   I was asked by the school, “when is his psychiatrist appointment?”   Right, more drugs is the answer.   What if I don’t want to experiment on my son any more?  The teacher suggested I bring the boy in after lunch when the kids have recess then some learning and social time.  At least that way he will be able to finish out the year without his last experience being a terrible one, and him ending up hating school.  Though the first half-day went well, they called and asked me to pick him up at the end of the second day because he was too wild to put on the bus.  The third day went well, but I have a feeling that they have given up on actually educating the boy, and have just settled for getting him through the time.  I became suspicious when the boy described how he colored pictures for the teachers and the other children. Uh oh, I noticed that he hasn’t had any of the usual photocopied papers with the number  or letter of the day either.

English: A child not paying attention in class.

English: A child not paying attention in class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if we can get him to an acceptable level of energy for home, but he doesn’t live up to the school’s standards and rules?  I know that  the State of Michigan’s department of education mandates that my child has a right to an education, and that whatever accommodations need to be made to get this done, so be it.  But do I really want to fight this battle?  Does this “right to an education” really apply to a child who has already graduated from preschool, isn’t this only for K-12?  So we pick this battle up again in the fall, when the boy goes back to kindergarten, or I can teach him here at home, where he has the opportunity to learn when his brain will allow him to be calm enough to take in information and be allowed to be a wild maniac when his brain is driving him on impulses.