Foiled again!

The best laid plans in the Wilson household very rarely work out the way I think/hope/expect them to. Only on rare occasions am I happily surprised at a smooth experience. It is because of this that I wonder almost daily why I even attempt to make plans since they are usually foiled (remember the last football game of the season? Yeah.).

Recently, I had a day in which a detailed plan was in place (well, detailed for a stay-at-home mom with usually only household chores to worry about). Wake at 6, shower, make lunches, lay out clothes, put away laundry and get breakfast ready all before the boys got up at 7:30. I had a column to write, edit and submit, fruit to cut up before it went bad and a two-month-old baby to babysit for the first time (and all the little chores that go along – preparing and warming bottles, changing diapers, staring at the cuteness, lying on the couch beneath the baby for hours while he naps . . . the list is endless). The morning went swimmingly, but the afternoon had the potential to become hairy.

Number Two’s appointment for a med check with his pediatrician had been rescheduled twice already, so I had to stick with the appointment they gave me where, of course, I’d be rushing to get him from school and to the appointment on time, all while requesting that the baby be picked up at an exact certain time to keep me from being late. And speeding.

Since the majority of the day went so well (with four loads of cleaned laundry spread about my living room in various stages of fold, all day, being the only caveat) I had a misplaced glimmer of hope for a great turnout. But we all know that smooth is not something that happens to us easily. Especially with a certain child who shall remain unnamed.

Number Two (still unnamed!) was given specific instructions: give this note to your teacher as soon as you get to school and wait for me outside where I normally pick you up, but I will be a few minutes late. He, of course, interjected, “Nooo. I don’t want to sit out there by myself.” I assured him there was always a teacher/monitor out there and I’d only be five minutes later than I normally pick him up. He again interjects, “Put it as a reminder in your phone. Don’t forget.” Um, I have never forgotten them, ever. I don’t know where he gets that from (seriously, I really haven’t forgotten, though I anticipate it may happen at some point). I tell him it’s very important and he finally relents. Phew. So, imagine my shock when I get to school and he is not among the seven or so kids still waiting for a ride. I sat in the car for a minute, hoping he had just gone to the bathroom. After six minutes of feeling like a stood-up date, I rushed, annoyed and a little embarrassed, into the nearly empty school office, hoping he was just waiting there for me. The receptionist looked up, and I couldn’t help but think I was being judged for being now eleven minutes late. What kind of parent keeps their kids waiting like that?

“Would a child be hanging out in his teacher’s classroom if he’s not out here waiting for a ride?” I was more annoyed than worried at this point.

“Well, we’d assume he got on the bus if he’s not out there. Why? Did your child have a note today?” She looked concerned and asked if I could make it home in time to meet the bus.

“Yes, he was supposed to turn it in, anyway. I can’t guarantee that he would have done so. And I can make it home, but now he’ll miss his doctor’s appointment.” I felt like an idiot. I rushed out the door and made it home a few minutes before the bus. During the time before he got home, I called the doctor and successfully moved the appointment back twenty minutes, still causing stress at the timing and anxiety over the question of whether he was actually on the bus – my annoyance had quickly turned to needless nervous worry.

The bus finally pulled up and dropped off two smiling kids (one who looked before crossing the street and one who didn’t). Phew again. Upon his arrival, I simultaneously felt relieved that he was safe but again annoyed at the whole thing, especially because he was prepped multiple times about the plan. His first words upon seeing me standing there, looking at him in expectation? “Mom!” He already sounded defensive and whiny. “I didn’t see you in the parking lot!”

Well, that opened up a whole bag of worms. I chastised him and told him he’s not in charge of making that call, a la “I’ve never not picked you up, I’ve never left you anywhere and there was no reason at all you should have gotten on the bus because you didn’t see me. I told you I’d be late! You were to wait right there for me to get you. Get in the car; we’re going to be late. Again.”

And then his story changed. Then he told me that he forgot he had an appointment and that I’d be picking him up. He said he forgot about the note for the teacher. “You forgot to give it to her?” I asked, unfairly incredulous. I should have expected that.

“No. I gave it to her. I just forgot that I was supposed to get picked up.”

“Well, did you forget for real or you got nervous and rode the bus?”

He squirmed and fidgeted and ate his granola bar. He stared out the car window and twiddled his wrapper. He did everything possible to keep from having to answer, because, I think, he didn’t know the answer. I let him stew over it for a while, and then told him how I trusted him to act responsibly and that I’d like to give him that responsibility in the future. He made eye contact in the rearview mirror for a second.

“I think I needed someone to remind me that I wasn’t riding the bus.” He looked out the window again, and my heart broke a little. He tried, then. He did remember to give the note . . . he just didn’t remember to wait for me. Although that didn’t explain why he said he didn’t see me in the parking lot, I was happy for the communication.

As we walked in to the doctor’s office, he grabbed my hand and held it as if he were four and crossing the road. I smiled at him, somewhat terrified that if I made eye contact, like a wild animal he’d scare and run off. He then told me, out of nowhere, that he had a bad day even though he did well on a test. He said it was because his best friend wasn’t in school and he felt alone . . . who is this kid? I wondered. He usually only speaks when complaining, telling me no and arguing with his brothers. I realized his openness was a direct reaction to the fact that he and I were alone for the first time in, well, probably since I last dropped him off for football practice in October. Let me tell you, that alone was a major realization on my parenting priorities. How have I made this far in life with children and I’m just now realizing how important it is for kids to feel special outside of their place in birth order? Up until that day, my often misunderstood guy was always the middle brother, seeking arguments for attention. Taken out of the home environment and out on his own, he turned into a communicative, feeling child, an entirely different person than he was just an hour before when surrounded by his brothers.

Now flash forward a few weeks. The little guy went grocery shopping with Dad, leaving the two older boys home with me. Given that, on the rare occasions I take all three boys on errands, the little one is usually the instigator in the arguing, I thought a trip to Wally World without him would be awesome. I even secretly planned to maybe stop on the way home for shakes . . . mostly for me. Before we even got into the car, Number Two was crying and demanding a toy. “It’s not fair! He has money and I don’t. I want you to buy me something! Buy me something or I won’t go!”

Oh, geez. Here we go. “Hey, that’s birthday money,” I say, “I’m not buying a toy since we just went on vacation (vacay post coming soon). Get in the car, please, and stop screaming.”

“No. I won’t.”

“Remember the other day when we went to the doctor and the store together and you said you loved it? Why can’t you calm down and enjoy this?”

“Because,” he said, arms folded across his chest, head titled forward and staring at his brother from beneath his furled eyebrows. “He’s here.”

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Furled eyebrows strike again!

As much as I wanted to scold him for that, I could understand what he meant. It is hard to act like a big kid when the simple presence of your older brother suggests different.

And, right in line with the birth order trait of the oldest – problem solving – Number One pipes up, “that’s okay, you can just pretend I’m not here. I won’t talk.”

Aww. The rest of the trip went pretty well once Number Two calmed quickly at the silence of his brother, and with Number One sharing two dollars and buying each of his brothers a Hot Wheels® car.

In the future, I see a few one-on-one trips with each of the kids . . . fueled by excessive arguing, I’m sure, and rewarded with a shake. Or a malt. Or ice cream. Or fries. Good thing I still have my kid taste buds.

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Kind of sad that this is one of only a handful of pictures of just this little guy and his mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unsolicited advice for all you ADHD/ADD virgins

When my son was first diagnosed with ADHD and ODD, I was thrilled to have an answer for why he was so difficult, but simultaneously gobsmacked by how much I didn’t know about any aspect of it: the testing, the therapy, the psychology, the copays, the medications, the behavior training, etc.  It terrified me!  I wished, while I was going through it all, that I had known someone who had also gone through it and could give me their sage, sweat-soaked advice.  Recently, a family member approached me and asked my advice in the subject – and while I highly doubted my sarcastic input would suffice, I was immediately grateful that my somewhat arduous experience could benefit a newbie.  The following are some tips I’ve compiled and should be read as an opinion and certainly not professional advice.

You may wonder when your child sprouted fur and turned in to a guinea pig.

The sad reality is that anyone, kids or adults, with behavioral/mental issues will eventually feel like a guinea pig.  And yes, it is normal.  I think we tried five different medications and combinations of insomnia-fighting agents before finding the perfect mix for us, which happens to be fifteen milligrams of Focalin XR and three milligrams of melatonin.  We started out at five milligrams of Focalin and gradually upped it over the course of a week.  With Number Two being only seven, our hands were kind of tied with what we could give him as he was not yet able to swallow whole pills (and still can’t at nine).  So there went the vast majority of behavioral health medication.  We tried Adderall (made him a total zombie.  No joke.  Sat and stared for hours.)  We tried Concerta, Strattera, and Metadate.  (These were tried two years ago, so I can’t remember the exact side effects, but at least one of these was a whole pill that I was never able to get him to swallow, try as I might.  And try I did – bribing, cajoling, yelling, hiding it in a bite of lunch meat or in a spoonful of ice cream . . . and crying.  Yes, I totally cried in front of my kid to show him how important it was to take it.)  I began giving him a dose of Benadryl at bedtime to counteract the stimulant side effect and lived for a week with him not falling asleep until 2 am.  Once I discussed this with the doctor, he suggested melatonin – a lifesaver!  Three milligrams in his mouth as I’m kissing him goodnight and it’s lights out in fifteen!  Easy, peasy.  But be warned – melatonin does not cause sleepiness per se.  It simply assists a person in falling asleep.  I have learned, through many cases of trial and error, that there is a window in which it can help.  When I say I give it to him while he’s in bed, I mean it.  That way he is laying still and quiet in the dark and then has the opportunity to help sleep arrive.  There have been times when Number Two comes out of his room ten minutes after I tuck him in and I know we’ll miss the window . . . and I really don’t want that to happen to you!

You may not know how to give your child the medication and consider just shoving it down his/her throat.

Especially if he/she can’t swallow pills.  Most whole pills absolutely should not be crushed or cut in any way, and honestly, you may be on your own there!  I have no clue how to make a kid swallow a pill . . . because my kid is super oppositional.  But, on the bright side, I can tell you little tricks I’ve worked out with taking the medication that can be opened and poured out.  When our psychologist suggested pouring Focalin into a spoonful of applesauce, I didn’t really think that was the only medium we could use (but I am no professional . . .).  I gave it to him in spoonfuls of sherbet and pudding (super yummy and agreeable, but we noticed no change in behavior those days because it seems Focalin beads won’t dissolve right in the body with these consistencies and one should not do this unless they want to waste that super expensive pill) and peanut butter (okay, in hindsight, this was child abuse.  He licked and smacked and chomped for ten minutes.  And there were tiny white Focalin beads still stuck to his lips when he tried to go out to the bus. Needless to say, peanut butter did not work!).  Applesauce gets boring, so we try to switch it up between cinnamon and regular as much as we can.  There have been days where he is throwing fits all morning and absolutely refuses to take his medicine.  Those days I am not ashamed to admit that I bribe him with a sucker, a cookie, or even a full size candy bar before school.  After all, if he takes his medicine and it helps him focus, how bad is that sugar going to affect him, really?  (Click here to read an article about sugar and ADHD.  I told you I was no professional!)

You may not understand the full benefits of the timing of the medication and/or why they can’t just make a constant release medication (these drug companies must not know a single child with ADHD).

I learned the hard way that this type of behavioral medication should be given as early as possible to keep you from strangling your child, but not too early that it wears off before homework can be completed (and you strangle your child).  In our home, Number Two gets it at eight am, after a big breakfast (remember, this stuff has the tendency to curb the appetite, resulting in a child that looks like they’re on meth . . . well, dexmethylphenidate).  That way, there are still a few good hours after school when he can complete his homework without too much of a fight (if he doesn’t lie about not having any.  Behavioral medications are not miracles in pill form!). I once forgot to give him his medication and remembered at noon.  Being new to the situation, I gave it to him then and then struggled until nearly three am to get him asleep.  Needless to say, that wasn’t pretty!

If your kid already mystifies you, be prepared for when they try to tell you about how the meds make them feel.

My son says some pretty weird things already – his psychologist actually asked me if he “normally communicates that way,” causing me to immediately question if his diagnoses were the only things wrong with him.  The doctor assured me that this difficult-to-understand way of communication was pretty normal for ADHD as the hyperactive brain may fire differently, causing the thought paths to crisscross and jump around (that’s how I understood it, anyway).  As his mother, I understand a lot of what he means, but strangers most likely have no idea what he’s talking about.  When asked how the medication makes him feel, he has responded with “heavy,” “my heart hurts,” “my brain pays attention,” and “I can’t stop thinking.”  I guess I understand that.  Wouldn’t it make so much more sense if parents could test out the medication first before giving it to the kids? Instead, we expect seven-year-olds to tell us what is happening in their brains – most of the time, seven-year-olds cannot properly convey what is happening in the bathroom!

Like I mentioned more than once, I am not a professional.  I also don’t know what I’m doing and am most likely completely and utterly unqualified to offer advice.  But, if you are going through something similar, I’d love to hear about your experiences and/or tips!

False start, three hour delay

Have you ever had one of those mornings that cause you think to yourself that you should rewind the day and start over?  That was my Saturday.  For such an anticipated day, I just could not get anything right. 

 After a few days of fun and consequently little sleep, I awoke on Saturday excited for the very last flag football game of the season.  I rushed Number Two around (where are your cleats?  Eat your breakfast.  Did you brush your teeth yet?  Find your water bottle.  Your hoodie goes under your football jersey!  What good is your jersey if no one can see it?) and practically pushed him out the door, preparing for my hubby to drive him to practice and swing back to pick us up for the Big Game.  I had big plans – hot chocolate, blankies, hats and mitts . . . I had to get moving and in order to do that, Number Two needed to be ready and waiting for Big Daddy. 

 “I want to see cleats on your feet and your mouth guard in your mouth!” It was not the first time I said it, so it came out a little nasty.  He stood there; whining, saying, ”meeehhhh, but I don’t know where they are.  Mom!  Find them for me.”

 “I didn’t wear them.  I will not find them for you.” Umm, why do I ever say things like this?  Still Number Two stood there. 

 NOW!  You’re going to be late.  Do you want to be the last one on the field?  Maybe your coach will make you do pushups.  Nah.  Forget it.  You can be late.  I’ll bring my camera to take pictures of your pushups and post them on facebook.”  That worked.  He was out the door in a flash, looking for the cleats and mouth guard that are always kept in the van.  (In my family, this strategy works out exceptionally well, as sometimes I have to lift a child or two, kicking and screaming, into the van. This way, we never forget shoes.  Or socks.  Or chips.)

 Two excruciatingly long minutes later, in walked a pathetic looking crying child with one untied cleat on and one in his hand.  “I can’t find my mouth guard!” 

 Double damn.  I put off buying a second one in case we ever lost the first, and I was doing so well . . . of course this would happen for the last game. 

 My nerves were shot.  It was five minutes until they had to leave to make it there on time, I still had to fill his water bottle and tie his shoes.  Number Three was yelling for “mo ce-we-oh,” hubby was dressed and bathing in cologne and I was a mess of bed head, jammie pants and hole-y sweater.  Not to mention the lack of coffee because of the perpetual case of chaos that morning.  My annoyance kicked into high gear when I spied, just seconds after he whined about not finding his guard, Number Two sitting on the floor with his iPod. 

 “GET IN THE VAN AND LOOK NOW!”  I bellowed.  He ran.  Surprisingly.

 We turned the van inside out – I even pulled open the stow-and-go.  Nothing.  I checked in the netting behind the seats.  Nothing.  We looked under the car seat.  Nothing but crushed Goldfish crackers.  I checked his coat pockets form the coat he wore at the last practice.  Nothing.  I had him do a play-by-play of his movements following his last practice.  Nothing that made sense.  Big Daddy checked the dryer (really??), the backpacks and the shoe bin. I checked the garbage, the junk drawer (twice) and the toy box.  Number Two had a few false memories (unsurprising and very fitting) about taking it outside, downstairs and to his room.  After twenty minutes of this we gave up and agreed he wouldn’t even go.  He couldn’t play without the guard and there was no time to go and get a new one, boil it and fit it and still make it to practice (and it was the last game anyway).

 With my shoulders slumped, I walked out to the van to close the doors and saw his coat on the ground . . . the same coat I had already checked.  Guess what I found?  Yessir, right there in the pocket.  I felt about a foot tall (nothing new there).  I spent a lot of time that morning chastising him for not being responsible about something so important and there it was, in a perfectly acceptable spot. 

 Big Daddy and Number Two raced off to make the last half of practice and I raced around getting dressed and pulling out the warm gear for the undoubtedly windy, 44-degree football field.  Just as I had everything ready and the water on to boil for the hot chocolate, my phone rang.  Big Daddy’s voice on the other end of the line had a hint of a smile when he said, ‘Hey, there is no one on the field.  Like no one.  Like there are tumbleweeds blowing around.”

 Wha?  That can’t be.  The fields should be full. It’s Saturday right?  I looked at the calendar.  Yep. It was Saturday.  But the game time on my calendar said we were three hours early for the game.  It figured.  All the stress, all the discipline, all for naught. 

 So there Number Two and I were nearly three hours later, parked at the field and twenty minutes early to the actual practice time.  We watched as kids were dropped off to their games, running across the frigid field in winter coats with their team shirts on over and then tucked in to their pants, hats and hoods flying off their heads as the wind blew.  We searched the field for his team color in vain.  Five minutes before practice time I started to seriously wonder where his team was.  Five minutes after practice was supposed to start I started to wonder if I screwed up again.  That‘s when I spotted his coach just standing in the parking lot, looking around.  I told Number Two to run out and ask where his team was.  He grabbed his things (super responsible all of a sudden) and bolted to his coach.  His coach yelled to me that he was going to delay practice a half hour and would keep my little player in his van with any other kids that might show up.  Okay, I thought, but I didn’t understand what he meant by “might show up.”  Shouldn’t they all be here by now?  Of course, that confusion was cleared up when I saw that I had a voicemail on my way home.  “Hi, it’s the assistant coach for the football team.  It’s too cold for the kids to practice too long, so please don’t show up until 1:30.”  Yup.  There it is.

 As if all that wasn’t enough, after I went back home to pick up the rest of the family, we were ten minutes late getting back to the game.  We are never late.  Ever.  It was in the stars for this day, though.

 As we traipsed across the field and behind parents wrapped in wool blankets and kids under makeshift blanket tents to block the incessant wind, I caught a glimpse of a bright blue hoodie tearing down the field.  Parents were cheering and clapping and I whipped around, camera around my neck but not at the ready.  I saw a dark-haired little guy in a blue hooded sweatshirt make a touchdown and amid all the cheering, I yelled, ‘that was Number Two!  I missed it!  His first touchdown!  I missed it!”  My heart was in two places at the same time.  My excitement/disappointment was cycling all over my face. 

 I readied the camera in the hopes of getting a post-first-touchdown smile and froze a little in immediate embarrassment.  That blue-clad boy was not my son, but my son’s best friend who was playing opposite him that day and wearing the same layer beneath his jersey (which was green and not gray like my son’s, adding more ridiculousness to the entire situation).  I got a picture anyway, and then many more of Number Two’s bestie making multiple touchdowns. 

 What crappy parent is actually relieved that it wasn’t her son making a touchdown?!  As much as I’d love for him to feel that exhilaration, I’d hate myself for missing that moment on film.  My priorities may be a little skewed, but I learned some very valuable lessons that day:

 1)   I won’t ridicule a child unless I am absolutely certain they, and I, looked everywhere first.  And when it’s warranted, I’ll have no shame yelling about irresponsibiity.

2)   I should check my voicemail often.

3)   I should find out all the information before cheering for my son, by name, for a touchdown he didn’t make.  And if I do make that mistake, I should follow up with cheering for the kid that actually made the touchdown. 

4)   Calendars are only useful if they are referred to on a daily basis.  Cameras, too. 

 

 

 

 

Seeing 20/20

In a family with kids, weekends are less of an end-of-week vacation and more of an opportunity to sneak in a few more chores and errands (and tears).  That is why I spent the majority of a crisp, glowing Saturday afternoon under the rejuvenating fluorescent lighting in the eye doctor’s office with both bigger boys.  To them, it was an opportunity to get something (like buy something.  Something new.  They have a problem with material possessions).  Number One repeatedly stated that he wanted glasses because they’d look so cool with his long hair and braces (!!) and Number Two kept stressing that although he wanted glasses, he didn’t want those things that go in your eyes.  “Contacts?” I asked. 

 “Yeah, I don’t want anything touching my eyes.” He looked out the window in a Focalin trance.  I should have known at that statement and the defeated body language that there may be an issue in the near future, but I waved aside his discomfort and laughed. 

 “Only bigger kids and adults get contacts!  Don’t worry; nothing is going to touch your eye.  The eye doctor is the easiest doctor to go to.”

 “Am I going to get eye drops?” I could hear the worry and once again, I chuckled.

 Haha.  Kid stress is hilarious.

 “No.  Why would you get eye drops?  You don’t have pink eye.”  Oh, woe is me for my ignorance and failure to predict that what can go wrong, will.  Of course he was going to get eye drops – dilation is the only way in which an eye doctor can prescribe glasses for a child with impaired vision.  One guess as to how I know that.

 Their excitement over the possibility of glasses grew as we neared the mall, as did their eyes as we walked past the indoor bungee jump and it’s corresponding sign – ONLY $7.00 FOR FIVE MINUTES!!!  “Mom!  Can we do it? I know you’re going to take us after the doctor!  That’s a surprise, right?  If we’re good we get to go.” 

 Hmm.  Noooo.  Never crossed my mind.  And wasn’t going to happen.  “What is seven times two?  Sorry, no.  Maybe another day you two can convince Dad to bring you.”  Passed the buck.

 Let me interject a little something here: I am a big believer in fate and signs, though I don’t usually internalize those signs and allow them to help me make decisions based on logic.  Nope.  I see them – don’t get me wrong – and I count them as they lead up to whatever climactic outburst is in my future, but I rarely heed their unspoken advise.  Case in point:  

 Sign #1:  I went the wrong way on the way to the eye doctor. 

 Sign #2:  As we walked up to the reception desk, the receptionist asked if I received their message about my insurance (no, I didn’t get that message.  I may have a problem with phones) – yep, what can go wrong, will.  They couldn’t find us in the system and for sure the glasses wouldn’t be covered.  Sigh.  The exam will, though, she told us, so I breathed a little easier . . . until Number Two had to get the puff of air test. 

 Sign #3:  Unfortunately, he watched his older brother do it and even though Number One laughed, Number Two was whining and wiggling, saying, “Nooo.  No.  I won’t do it.  No.”  I saw this coming a mile away.  Four tries later, the tech was able to get his first eye.  Three more tries and the second eye was done, though not without tears.  I, being the no nonsense mom that I am, actually grabbed him by the temples and held his head still, threatening to hold his eyelids open if he wouldn’t stop closing them.  I was subconsciously practicing for the feared eye drops.

 The eye doctor came in and determined Number One could see at 20/20 or better – saved a bunch of money with that little blessing.  Number Two, though, was deemed to see at 20/40 and needed corrective lenses.  We figured as much, so not too much of a shock . . . until the doctor brightly announced these words: “Okay, we’re almost done – if your mom agrees, all we have to do now is put a few drops in your eyes so we –“

 And the climax:  “No.  No.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Nooo!”  I watched with slight surprise as a fully medicated Number Two actually slid down the chair, hands on his eyes, crying already.  “No drops.  You said no drops.  You liar.  You’re a liar!!  I hate you!”

 “Hey, it’s gotta get done.  No chance of getting out of it.”  Ms. No Nonsense was in control, I kidded myself.

 I knew, based on my experience with Number Two’s fits, that with a little cajoling and perhaps even the dreaded bribe, I could get him to relax enough to just take the eye drops, so I tried offering ice cream.  I tried offering candy.  I tried begging (please, just let her put them in.  They don’t hurt.  Please.) and lost all self-respect.  The doctor tried begging.  I tried holding him down, but being twenty pounds and 7 inches taller than the last time I needed to hold him down really put a damper on my control.  He nearly banged his head on the corner of the table, and since I was struggling to keep his hands away from his face so the doctor could squeeze the drops in, he started kicking his feet, missing the doctor’s thigh by millimeters.  The whole time he continued to scream, “I hate you!  You’re a liar!  Liar!”

 Finally, I gave up the struggle and a light went on.  “He has oppositional defiant disorder,” I lamented, “do we have to do this?”  And that’s how I know a child needs to be dilated to obtain a prescription.  Every situation is a chance to learn something new.  “Is there a m-a-l-e  d-o-c here?”  As if Number Two was three years old and couldn’t spell.  The doctor looked at me, bewildered.  “It’s not personal, he just does better with men.  He usually just does what they say.  They’re gruffer.”  I felt like an idiot saying it, but . . . I was at a loss.  In hindsight, I should really be reading all those helpful articles I signed up to have e-mailed to me from a great ADHD website.

 Enter a male optician, 40ish, blonde, soft-spoken, and smiling.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted someone tall, dark and scary looking to sweep in and say, “Okay, we’re doing this.  One drop, two and we’re done.”  Nope.  What I got was a sweet child-like man who did not want to use force (probably the best thing anyway).  He tried bribing with candy.  He tried bribing with a mini field trip to the lab where he made glasses.  Still Number Two had his hands on his eyes, crying and kicking – looking a little ridiculous alone on the chair, fighting just the idea of something.  The optician spent nearly fifteen minutes trying to convince this ball of tears and squeals to just take the eye drops, during which time I dithered between feeling crappy about the doctors’ wasted time and feeling crappy for Number Two’s stress.

 In the end, I did what any other self-respecting parent would do.  I caved.  I asked for another appointment so that Dad could bring him and I could take my flaming cheeks and get the h-e-double hockey sticks outta there.  Yeah, I passed the buck again.  Embarrassment had never felt so deserved as I should have a) realized that special needs require special prep and b) had a plan in place for the tantrum I should have seen coming. But before I could go, the optician came up behind me and whispered conspiratorially, “I even tried to pay for a bungee jump.  No dice.  Sorry Mom.”

 Am I right to be doubly embarrassed that a perfect stranger offered his own money to convince my child to do what his mom says?  Was anything I did during this trip right?  Am I screwing up my kid? Maybe the answer to the latter is one I don’t want to hear, as just this morning I caught myself reminding (teasing, nagging) him that there are only three more days until he gets the eye drops.  And they might hurt this time. 

 

A single pair of shoes

This afternoon I sat in the kitchen, wearing my big girl panties in expectation of the brawl sure to happen as the boys walked in from school.  Immediately, there was arguing about a situation on the bus (yeah, this is everyday, nothing new here), followed by, “Take that off the floor – I tell you every single day to hang your backpack.  Why can’t you just follow the directions ONE TIME?” followed by, “Mom, this is my last granola bar.  I only had three already, just this one. Why mom, whyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!  I’m very starving!  I didn’t get time to eat!!!!!!!!!”  Followed by, “I said it’s time for homework.  Now pull your head out of your butt, take your finger out of your nose and pick up that pencil!” Then this is usually followed by more yelling (obviously not by just the kids), threatening and finally tears.  Tears always.   In the past month (and strangely it is roughly the amount of time school has been in session), I can say with complete confidence that I have cried every single weekday.   Sometimes it’s out of frustration, but most of the time it’s shame – shame at how I handled a situation, shame that I don’t know what to do, shame that I haven’t sought out the help we all need, and shame that I always know that there is someone out there in this same predicament who is handling all the same struggles with more grace than I’ve been faking – and they are probably the real fricken deal.  Graceful, that is. 

 I’m sure there are a lot of mothers of special needs kids (yeah, I consider ADHD and ODD special needs.  Sue me.) who may read this and think, “so what?  You’re not so special – we all go through this, and you are actually pretty lucky – the steady income from hubby’s job, the health of the entire family, etc.” and to that I say, “Hah!” And, “You’re right, I am lucky.”  But at the same time, those positives don’t necessarily deflect the negatives; they just make dealing with the negatives a little less stressful with room to breathe and focus on the behavioral issues and not hospital stays, babies crying, daycare scheduling, etc.  Actually, if anything, the positives may tend to magnify the negatives as one in a comfortable situation has nothing else to complain about, if you get my drift.  But maybe I’m just a complainer.  

 But here we were again in my kitchen, this time hours after homework.  My youngest was in bed for an hour already and it was only 8:30 (hey, sometime’s an introvert’s gotta prioritize – I need my down time free of having to formulate words when I don’t want to).  My two older ones were at the island counter, elbow deep in cereal and the proof was in the crumbs and mess all over.  I walked in with the intention of getting a cup of tea but was instead interrupted by half a milk footprint, a quarter cup of Special K with Red Berries crushed into the grout, the open milk gallon on the counter, refrigerator door open, and yep, there was the cat nosing all the way in the second shelf of the frig, as if the rest of the activity wasn’t enough.

 Son #1 (not as in NUMBER ONE! the favorite, as in number one, the oldest):  I have more milk than you.

 Son #2 (yeah, the middle child.  And the one with ADHD.  And ODD.): BOOCHYKABOOCHYBOOCHYKOWKOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!!.  (This is screamed.  With a smile.)

 Son #1: Moooooommmmmmm.  His disgust with my silence immediately following his brother’s outburst shames me into action, though he acts as if I wasn’t standing right there, head pounding and cleaning up the mess they made.  

 Here comes my uncool moment . . . wait for it while they continue arguing and I turn and find an empty glass just sitting on the kitchen floor next to a pair of little shoes.  It might be the little shoes that push me over the edge, and why not? Something was going to eventually.   I had my bet on something son #2 did or said as is usually the case, but it seems he got a reprieve.  ‘Bout time.

 “AAAAAAALLLLLLRRRRIIIGGGHHHT!!!!!!  That’s it.  Snack is over.  Get upstairs.”  My teeth were clenched, so this came out as “Thatsh it.  Shnack ish over. Gt upshtairsh.”  I had noticed the open kitchen window nanoseconds before opening my mouth, so I made sure to keep my voice down. Wouldn’t want the neighbors to think I’m a screamer. 

 On our way upstairs, and yes I need to walk them up to make sure son #2 actually put one foot in front of the other and moved toward a goal, I pass at least five dirty socks, half a roll of toilet paper sitting on the catwalk ledge (I can only imagine), and another empty glass.  At least this time it was on the nightstand and not the floor. 

 My blood was rushing, my cheeks hot, my hands clenched (yes, all over that silly pair of shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor).  Son #2 flings open his door, which slams into the wall in the dark room, which is dark because his younger brother was asleep in there, and promptly wakes him up. 

 I wanted to scream, and shout, and let it all out Will-I-Am style but my brain was singing a PBS song (“When you’re so mad you could roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Works for kids, why can’t I try it?)  Don’t yell, don’t yell, don’t ye-

 “GO TO BED!  All of you, in bed, eyes closed, mouths shut.  No kisses.  NOW!”

 There is was.  The mean, spiteful, angry woman that hides below the translucent layer of momness just climbed right up and out and tada-d herself to my kids.  Did it solve anything?  No.  Did it teach a lesson?  Nah, not to the kids.  Me?  Hell yeah.  An hour after all that happened, I went into each room to kiss them anyway and found a bedroom window opened.  No biggie, normally, because my antisocial doctor neighbors practically never made appearances outside their home and always keep their windows closed tight against the dirty world.  Except for tonight, apparently.  As I closed the window, I noticed their office window was wide open, light on, a figure at the desk.  Great.  So if all the kid screaming didn’t convince them we were the epitome of immaturity and dysfunction, my unhinged banshee screams did.  And if that wasn’t enough to shame me for my ill-tempered outburst, there was that sweet, not-too-innocent nine-year-old, all curled up with his little brother’s light-up stuffed animal (likely stolen from him shortly after I left the room), snoring slightly with his mouth wide open. 

 All kids are images of perfection when asleep.  You can quote me on that one.