There have rarely been times when I have been totally and completely blindsided by my offspring. Since I had become so conditioned to strategize, I always felt the best possible outcome would ensue with the least amount of negativity. I became so accustomed to this mindset, I literally divided my day into quadrants- morning, afternoon, evening, and night. I micro -managed each detail so I might feel the tiniest bit in control.
It was farcical to be so type “A” when I lived a perpetual play date (triplet boys) that could go wrong at any second. Sure, I could plan but something was always bound to pop up.
One such afternoon, the children were all together at a friends’ house. They were having a fun time playing and there were about 5 of them. Our girls were in charge since they had reached babysitting age and could easily access us moms who were two blocks away.
It was a welcome break to see friends myself and get to visit. We were at a local tapas and wine store sipping and chatting when our cell phones began blowing up. Apparently, one son had gone upstairs to hang out and decided it would be fun to play on the phone. This resulted in cop cars WITH BLUE LIGHTS FLASHING to dash to their house assuming there was an emergency. One son had curiously pushed “911-111-1111” on the phone just to see what would happen. The cops asked where the parents were and they told them, “At the wine store drinking wine.”
Not only did our friends get highly embarrassed that cop cars pulled into their Main Street house for the world’s speculation, but we moms felt no parenting awards were coming our way either.
Howie Mandel had it right when he said, “ADD, ADHD, OCD…I wanna buy another vowel!” He was referring to the multiple diagnoses he had been given.
School-aged children tend to be stuck with the most vowels. Once they start school, their obvious differences in learning, self-regulating and temperament begin to emerge. Of course, when you put 25 children with one teacher in one room, there will be issues. Asking tiny people to be still and be quiet can be like asking social media users to post only kind remarks. It’s the impossible, yet we continue with this style of teaching, continuing to force squares into circles.
When a child’s behavior stands out exponentially is when the real fun begins. From the notes sent home, to the red marks on their schoolwork, to the teacher’s conferences (I must hold the world record for those), the message sent is “something is wrong with so and so and needs to be corrected.” My heart aches for children in that predicament. When possible, changing the environment, trying different schooling options is a luxury. More often than not, the parent is forced to send their child to a losing environment.
I’m guilty myself. By God’s good grace, my children got through it. It was ugly at times and painful at others but they did it. In hindsight, I recognize I nearly lost my mind obsessing over their behavior, grades and if their teachers liked them and what their diagnoses were. To medicate or not, switch schools (but to which and what kind?), and find therapies to correct our issues, were all consuming. After many MD appointments, we finally found a local specialist and he helped tremendously. However, it wasn’t a cure-all but another tool instead.
What truly mattered was how they, individually, developed as human beings, not if their teachers liked them (a few did), if they could read on time (a few did) and what diagnoses they had. Hilariously, I got the vowels myself seeking their’s! My point is that it’s great to decipher what issues are at hand, but not to get bogged down with them.
The point is to help your child navigate the process of growing up into a productive, self-regulating, caring adult. The world overall won’t accommodate because of a diagnosis. He or she will still have to perform and be expected to conform to the world around them. Focusing more on their positive nurturement is much more helpful. I wish I had done that instead of trying to “fix” them.
Once hyperactivity and impulsiveness were identified, I read every book available (not many back then) and made appointments with every expert I could find. I even flew to New York City and paid $400/hr to talk to the author of the only book I could find on the subject. For that costly hour, the doctor didn’t give me the secret tools of success or the magical cure, he simply spent the hour telling me to take care of myself first, as their caregiver, and to love and praise them! That was it! My $6.67 per minute consultation was spent learning self care and to cheerlead my brood. I was sure he’d give me something tangible and he did, he gave me a book about people who turned out famous with, and despite, their ADHD.
You can wear yourself out procuring knowledge on learning disabilities and the like. I did. But I’d suggest perceiving treatment as a tool or partnership, a more light handed approach. In the end, it’s most important they feel loved, supported and cared about. In the end, isn’t that what everyone wants?
My husband told me when our boys were little that we were not glass vase people. What he meant was that we cannot decorate with anything other that leather, cement or wood. When I put glass anything out as decor, the over/under on it was maybe 3 days. I have found lamps with cracks, vessels in shatters and one interesting item was the picture frame with photo minus all glass. That was easily unnoticeable for a few weeks. Occasionally, the odd item would go missing and I would ask about it and get the most blank expressions from my family.
When our triplet boys were 2 years old, they had nap time. It should have been called “what can we collectively accomplish to blow mom’s mind time,” however. I had their 3 cribs lined up but apart and I would shut the door. Thinking they were apart and couldn’t bother one another, I went to lie down too. What I never could have anticipated was them rocking and rolling their cribs across the floor until they touched so they could all flip into one crib. I heard a loud crash and ran into the room only to find the curtains and all hardware ripped out of the wall piled on the floor. They just looked at me like, “What happened?” Those angelic, little faces were as surprised as I was.
Financially, we’ve had a flat screen punched after a Wii gone wrong game, a chandelier busted from indoor football and the most expensive double paned, window replaced. Those are just items I can remember!
To this day, when I am shopping for our home I try to anticipate the reality of living with whatever it is. It may be beautiful or interesting, but if it’s not durable, it doesn’t make it through the door.