Saturday, February 11, 2012

Perfect Little Boxes

Perfect Little Boxes

Children don’t fit inside boxes.  No one is perfect.  I have come to this realization after seven years of parenting.  I am a parent to a unique child.  He is special.  He is amazing.  He is difficult. He is loving and caring.  He is angry and aggressive.  At first, when Son #1’s after-school teacher told me there were problems I took it as a complete affront to my parenting skills (or lack thereof).  Son #1 was only four years old—how could he be a problem? As parents, especially working parents, I think as a general public we tend to do this: feel guilty over something we can’t control, something as inherent as personality.

I wanted Son #1 to fit in the box the school had designed for him.  I wanted him to be like his peers and to see his path laid out straight before me, but as parents you have to learn to adapt.  At first, I thought the school was overreacting (and maybe they were), but we reacted to their reaction and we began to try to figure out what was wrong with Son #1. 

At first he was diagnosed with ADHD.  Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  It certainly seemed to fit, at least the hyperactivity part.  He is focused though, although not always.  He has a way of learning when he seems like he’s not.  He has a way of pushing other people’s buttons, and he seems to thrive on eliciting reactions from others.  There were some inconsistencies to the ADHD diagnosis.  He does not exhibit cacography; instead his handwriting (even for a left-handed child) is fairly neat.  He makes good grades in school.  Once we transferred him to a school more appropriate to him, we stopped receiving so many complaints.  He didn’t seem to be much of a problem at school, unless he was overtired or unless he had his feelings hurt.

We went through four different medications.  The first medication, Clonidine, he was on the longest but it just made him so tired all the time.  He couldn’t get through his Kindergarten class without falling asleep after lunch.  He was quiet, obedient, and not like his usual self.   Towards the end of the year, we went to our pediatrician for a second opinion on his ADHD.  The doctor suggested trying stimulants.  So we did.  He went through three different medications, each one of them not particularly right for him.  He had headaches on one.  He talked too much on the other.  He won’t sleep at night on one.  Then, we finally decided on Adderrall, and this created a whole new set of issues.  During the day, he was super compliant.  He would focus, not hop around the room, but in the evening as the medicine started wearing off or first thing in the morning he was an emotional wreck.  He began having RAGES.  These are not simple temper tantrums.  He would RAGE for forty-five minutes or an hour, then when he stopped he’d be so apologetic.  He *couldn’t* control it.  For anyone who has seen a child rage, it is such a scary thing. 

We decided to take him off the meds.  In a matter of weeks, he was back to his quirky self.  Super energy man, but he was still maintaining his grades at school: friendly, sweet, smart Son #1. 

If I had to do it over, I wonder if I would ever have put him on brain-changing medicine.  Children aren’t meant to fit into little boxes, but the world still wants them seen and not heard.   Society expects them to sit still in school, to take test after test, and not to have a mega amount of energy that my child has.  No Child Left Behind has all but taken away PE in school, so it’s no wonder that after being trapped in a desk for hours, Son #1 wants to release a little bit of his pent up energy.  It’s not wonder when he comes home from school he starts jumping off of walls. 

Who wants little boxes anyway?  It’s much more fun to be creative, unique…DIFFERENT.


  1. Can you ask for sensory breaks at school?  10 min jumping on a trampoline or riding on a scooter in a gym might do loads of good.  

  2. This is something I have thought about. Fortunately, he has the BEST teacher this year. She is so understanding and so patient. I don't know how she does it. Speaking of sensory--I'm beginning to think his issue is more sensory anyway. He likes his clothes too tight fitting, and he likes his shoes so tight. If they are lose then he will have a fit. I'm just happy we're not medicating anymore, so I get to see "real" Son #1 most days, and honestly he has changed and grown up so much this year it is amazing to see!


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