My boys are all …fun in their own ways. Torn between delusion and reality; I often decide that, despite reassurances of similar children, other families do not enjoy quite the smattering of personality challenges I do in raising mine.
Only my second son has been officially diagnosed with anything. That was a result of his school planner in first grade. The notes from his teacher began innocently enough: Had some difficulty when he was asked to sit and do his work, for example. By December, however, each week had a major incident or even two. Threw a chair was one. Tried to bite another student was another.
That was four years ago, so some of the specifics are still repressed memories for me.
Threatened litigation by another parent was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Through an answer to a prayer, a cancellation made it so I was immediately seen by a new pediatrician. The doctor gave me the education and (eventually) the medication we needed. He has been wonderful.
I am not a fan of diagnosing misbehaving children nor of doping them up. My husband is even less so, which is still a sore issue regarding Boy #2. For the sake of keeping this shorter than a textbook, I have our son where he is with what he is taking because it works and he needs it. He takes a pill known as Straterra, and is now on a fairly low dose.
Every year we have a reevaluation with the doctor to discuss whether the medication is affecting anything. It is, in about a 95% positive way. Every summer we try not taking the pill, at my son’s request. Our record is three weeks.
At that point, I am reduced to constant babysitting. Every social interaction needs moderation and ends in meltdown.
Me: Now, remember: we can’t sit on your brother’s head.
Him: You never tell him not to sit on me!
I can tell he’s approaching puberty because he used to tear up and run screaming from the room. Now he clams up and gives me short little answers that prove he’s withdrawing and repressing on his own. *Sigh*
On more humorous notes, the lucid parts of his personality are more apparent during sober times. So is his forgetfulness. All day he asks me where he left his book or his glasses or his brain -okay, not literally his brain. Even on medication I tell him he’ll need a personal assistant as an adult to remind him to put on pants.
Even on medication he is himself and still has the same challenges. What makes medical intervention and therapy crucial is The Point of Meltdown. As a young child, entering meltdown meant I had to physically carry him to a re-direction point (often outside) until he burned through his feelings. It meant his telling me he did not hit a person whom I saw him hit, and getting fixated on how I hated him for forcing him to apologize.
I wrote a glib snippet last week about people wanting a silver bullet or a cure-all for behavioral issues. Wouldn’t that be nice; right?
The truth is that there is a cure-all, and it is love.
The Number One thing I’ve had to learn as my son’s mother is to show him I love him in an over-the-top, but genuine fashion. When he is being a mean jerk, telling me that he does wish he’d mortally wound his older brother, that’s the time I need to say, “I love you so much.” When he is hiding under the table and yelling about whatever ticked him off and that I never care, that’s when I start tickling his back and talking about how much he means to me.
Tickling his back and neck are his weakness, besides the love. Maybe your son or daughter has an Achilles’ Heel like that, too.
Life is not easy with a difficult child or four, but it is what it is. I’ve tried the Hide and Resent It approach; it’s not very effective. With patience, love, and lots of chocolate, taking it one day at a time is the best way to go.