Following Bunny Trails

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

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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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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.


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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Now That’s Commitment!

Since my last post was called, It’s Not Tourettes!  I have a story for you about a brilliant 5-year-old I call, “The Boy.”   This takes place when he was on an ADHD medication called Focalin.   If ever you don’t think your children are listening, I got another thing for ya’!  I must have, at some time, expressed concern about the medication possibly causing “tics” when the dose is raised.  I was told to keep an eye out for them, and if any occur, stop the medication and call the doctor immediately.   Well, when 5 mg of Focalin ceased working after being the drug we would have called “the one” for the last two and a half months, the natural choice was for the pediatrician to raise it to 10mg.  But we had some issues with Medidate when they raised it from 10 to 20mg, after it ceased to work after a month or so.  So I took it upon myself to cut the pill in half, I was told by the pharmacist that this would cause no problems, as it was not a time release pill.  I decided to start with 7.5mg and ease up to 10mg if needed, though I was secretly hoping it wouldn’t be needed.  After 3 days of 7.5mg, the boy’s teacher called and said there were still problems.  Darn.  I raised the Focalin up to 10mg as the doctor suggested and sent the boy to school.  He comes home in his usual, I’m-coming-down-from-my-meds-leave-me-alone daze, and says school was “fine” when asked.  He went straight to his Nintendo DS and began playing video games.  As he was playing, I was watching him and I saw that he was repeatedly thrashing his head to the side.  Uh, oh, is this a tic?  I observed him some more.  He continued jerking his head from left to right, and I noticed that he was working his jaw.  I should explain that he was just getting over a nasty cold, so I asked him, “are your ears clogged up from blowing your nose?”  The zombie-boy responded, “I dunno.”  (In other words, “Unga bunga, can’t talk, Playing!”)  But kept right on twitching.  The next day I observed him again, because I had assumed he was working his jaw and thrashing his head to clear his ears.   As soon as he started that DS he thrashed his head, and continued through his whole game time.  I asked, “why are you doing that with your head?”  He responded, “because I have to.”  “What do you mean, you have to?”  “I need to.”  “Why do you need to?”  “Because it feels good when I do it.”  “Doesn’t it hurt your neck or give you a headache?”  “No.”  The next day, while the boy was at school, I called the doctor and told them what I had observed.  They told me to discontinue Focalin.   When he came home from school I let him watch tv.  He whipped his head to the side a few times, but nothing like the DS.  He eventually bored of the TV and moved on to the DS (I know, what a great mom, right?)  As soon as he gets on the DS he starts violently thrashing his head to the side.  I say, “can you stop doing that with your head?”  He says, “No.”  I say, “It can’t be good for your neck muscles or your head to be rattled around like that!”  He ignores me and goes right on playing and twitching.  I get an idea.  I grab the phone and walk out of the room.  I come back a couple of minutes later and say, “I just got off the phone with the doctor, he says that it’s the DS that is making you do that with your head.   He told me that as long as you were jerking your head like that, you can’t play video games.”   And I took it away for the night.   Do you know that the next day he came home from school and never jerked his head again?  Now That’s Commitment!   He must have heard me talking to someone about being worried about him getting “tics” from his medication.  I don’t know if he just got this idea stuck in his head, or if he was enjoying all the time I spent observing him, or if he’s the world’s best actor…but THREE DAYS?   I don’t know if I should be very impressed or very scared!  I told the behavior specialist who kept mentioning Tourettes Syndrome as a possibility, “Don’t even mention Tourettes in front of my son.”  I have this crazy feeling that if we talk about it, and it’s overheard… oh I hate to even think of the possibilities!

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Remembering Me

I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences with ADD as a child, but for some reason I’ve been having some trouble recalling specifics.  Maybe because mommy doesn’t get much time to just sit and think, not until the kids go to bed.  And then I have to battle the feelings of wanting to sit comatose in front of the tv.  First of all, I don’t remember a lot of detail from when I was my son’s age, and rely heavily on my mom’s memories.  She tells me that once I learned to walk, I wasn’t a “cuddler” any more because I was too busy running around and exploring.  The boy was the same, he was too busy to sit and cuddle, he was on the go!  He would run to me and give me a quick squeeze, then he was off again.   My mom and I came across a picture of me as a preschooler, in an adorable 70’s smock dress and tights, standing with a group of children during a Christmas pageant.  She tells me that I started repeatedly jumping off the step I was supposed to be standing on.  Apparently I got all the other children interested in jumping off the step and the pageant was reduced to chaos and parental giggling.  My mom tells me that even though I was hyper, she could “reign me in.”  She could reason with me, and explain what was expected of me… it might take me a while to get myself under control, but it was possible.

My body and brain were always in “go, go, go” mode.  I tapped, I wiggled, I twitched my foot, I rocked in the chair (to this day, I can hardly sit in a rocking chair without rocking.)  If the energy built up enough, I’d make loud noises.  As an only child, I often amused myself with noises I could make with my voice or with objects (you can pity my mother at any time.)  If I had pent up energy and was unable to be noisy, I did this little twitter with my hands; I’d put one hand on the side of each thigh and and very quickly pat, pat, pat, like a fluttering.  Don’t ask me, I did it well into my twenties, when I got excited about something.  It became my very own, cute little expression of joy [nerd!]   I used to come into my mom’s room and sit on her bed, it was usually under a minute before she told me to “quit jiggling.”  I remember thinking it was unfair of her to expect me to sit still all the time, I may have construed it as a form of rejection, because I remember thinking to myself that I would never say that to my kids. (You’ve got to love the thought process of children, everything is “unfair!”)  I don’t like that I’ve said it to my own son, especially knowing how impossible it is for him to be still, but man, it is really irritating to be jiggled constantly while you’re trying to read or type!  In fact, I just pushed my cat onto the floor because she was laying on my arm while I was typing this.  [Mom/Pet owner fail!]

Adorable 70's Dress

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Unless You’re a Hilton…

Unless you’re a Hilton, heredity can sometimes be a b*@#ch!  DNA-double-helix-image-1Yes son, along with the propensity toward diabetes, heart disease, and addictions if you don’t chose a healthy lifestyle, I also passed on to you ADD.  Except you, being a young boy and all, have the “hyper” on top of the “extremely distractable” that comes with ADD.   I was hoping your dad’s laid-back, calm demeanor would overcome my wild, untamed gene-pool.

I remember the first meeting with your daddy’s family so long ago.  We ate supper at a diner, and his quiet family completely overwhelmed me!  The silence, which was comfortable for them, deafened me!  I felt the need to blurt on several different topics to fill in the spaces.  The sound of silverware clunking and salad munching was too much for a girl from my upbringing.  I was used to vying for “air-time” against my mother and her family.  Everybody had something to say, had an opinion, conversation flowed, we interrupted each other and no one took offense.  When my mother and her cousin got together it was like watching the most amusing tennis match ever!   Your head volleyed from mom to cousin “Boney” to mom to Boney.  You didn’t even try to interject, you’d be spoken over, completely unheard.  Those were some of the most entertaining times, watching my mom and her cousin.  They’d feed off each other, get each other going.  Each story from childhood got funnier and funnier, those two, when together, were incorrigible!  This is the ilk I come from.

I have assimilated into my husband’s family nicely in the 19 years that we’ve been married.  I no longer need to make idle chat or fill in spaces.  There’s plenty to talk about, and if not, the silence is comfortable.  We can just gaze contentedly at my in-laws’ lake.  I prayed while both my children were in utero, that they would have the calm nature that comes from their father’s bloodline.  Baby girl seems to be quite laid back, but she is becoming more comical and excitable as she absorbs her loud and often chaotic environment.  I don’t worry about her having ADHD though, we already knew the boy had it by 18 months.  It’s true what they say, that The Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle!  And I don’t think He would entrust me with two loin-cloth wearing, chandelier swinging, little monkeys!

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Do The Eyes Hold a Secret?

I wish I could tell you that we removed all dye’s from our son’s diet, and his ADHD was all gone, but unfortunately that’s not the case.  We are attempting to finish the school year out on a positive note.  The teacher hasn’t called me to pick up the boy in a while, though the bus driver has told me that she had to get stern with him for hanging his arms and, occasionally, head out the window.   I still can’t take him shopping.  We haven’t been to a store in over a month.  I wait until daddy comes home and then I head out, sans the boy.  I have tried to hint that we would be shopping  later on in the day, but he instantly throws a fit.  I know that if he’s that upset at the mere mention of  going to the store, the actual experience of shopping will be a miserable one for both of us.  But I digress… [bunny trail]

There are good days and difficult days, but overall, I believe there’s been a pretty big difference since we went dye free.  I’m so proud of my boy, he’s not even 6 yet and he informs people that he doesn’t eat or drink anything with food coloring in it when they offer him something.  I think ice cream has been the hardest for him though.  On our Memorial Weekend vacation, we went to a fancy ice cream shop, and of the 40-some-odd flavors they offered, most had obvious colors.  The line of people waiting to be served went right out the door, so we couldn’t actually see all of the flavors before ordering.  It was pretty sad that out of all those delicious flavors, we had to ask the boy, “do you want chocolate or vanilla?”  This upset him more than the removal of his precious m&m’s, fruit snacks, or popsicles.   I finally allowed him to talk me into a nice lemon sorbet, and as the girl scooped up the ice cream and plunked it onto the cone, I saw for the first time that it was day-glo yellow.  *Sigh, what can you do?

The act of removing dye from our diet has naturally led to us greatly reducing our sugar intake, since sugar and dye seem to be synonymous with each other, especially in food marketed toward children.  (Don’t get me started!)   Except for our, all too often, summer ice cream outings, we usually opt for fruit to quell the dessert cravings.   There have been some dye sneak attacks though, gum is one of them.  You don’t usually think of gum as a food group, especially the sugar free kind, but so far I haven’t found one without dye.  Maybe Extra Polar Ice, it’s white, I haven’t checked yet… it doesn’t matter, the boy says that kind is too hot.  Poweraid Zero used to be a standby for long, active and  hot days, but I had to read every label until we found a Gatoraid Frost that was white.

There are some days where I could swear the boy has a stash of brightly colored candy hidden somewhere in his room.  I know nobody’s perfect, and we all have our moods, what I’m talking about are the days where the kid wakes you up by leaning  into your sleeping face and says, “Make Me Chocolate Milk!”  And it all goes down hill from there.  I have noticed something on particularly difficult days, days where the child’s expectations and viewpoints are completely off the wall.  You find yourself saying things like, “Are you kidding me?”  “Are you for real?”  “Did you really just say that to me?”   On those days I can see a change in his eyes.  As he stares at me defiantly from his time-out spot in his room, I notice that his eyes are glassy.  I spent some time on the search engines looking for a correlation between shiny eyes and ADHD or behavior or diet or anything that would help explain what I’m observing.  I found articles from seizure disorders to optical issues that can cause the person afflicted with it to have so much difficulty looking at a close up object, that their repeated “looking away” to refocus their eyes can lead to misdiagnosing a child with ADHD.  Who knew?  But after filtering through the junk information and scary information on the net, I found several moms describing their children’s eyes as  “glassy”,” glazy”, or “shiny” after eating a bunch of sugar or dye foods.   So is sugar the problem?  Am I missing some hidden dyes?  What about the days where he’s in time out for speaking rudely even before breakfast?  Is he chewing the fabric of his brightly colored pillow in his sleep?

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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.