A Timely Reminder

It has been a trying day around here.  Emotions have  been running high since last night and the unfortunate Flaming Marshmallow Incident which resulted in the burned cornea of one of Ben’s good friends.  We’ve all been feeling on edge.  And Ben decided not to take his ADHD medication this morning. 

I suspected as much when I first woke up to him pesterizing his little brother.  Wrestling.  Playing.  Wrestling.  Teasing.  Wrestling and teasing some more accompanied by an endless stream of noise, words, taunts, vocalizations, words, words, words ad infinitum.  I asked him if he’d taken his meds.  He said he had.  I checked his pill box and saw Friday’s and Sunday’s squares were empty.  Hmmm.  Obviously something was amiss but my coffeeless brain wasn’t up to solving the puzzle.  After re-asking over and over only to get a more adamant version of the same answer each time, I let it go.  It usually takes close to an hour for his pills to kick in after all. 

The moment I stepped through the front door after being at work for the afternoon, I knew I’d been had this morning!  It’s hard to explain the subtle differences in Ben’s behavior when he’s unmedicated.  You can almost tell just by looking at him!  He talks more, for one.  On and on.  And there is a defiant air about him.  And he confronts.  If I ask him to come to the table for dinner on meds he’s more likely than not going to completely ignore me/not hear me until I force him to look me in the eye.  Off medication, he pipes off instantly asking what’s for dinner and proclaiming he doesn’t want that before I can even finish my sentence. 

Tonight was no different.  He pushed and pushed to the point that he practically had to be drug to the table.  Then things got worse.  At one point, Daddy-O was standing behind him forcefully using a hand-over-hand to get him to cut up his own waffles.  The entire family was done eating before Ben had even taken a bite.  He went to bed without dinner at 7:30. 

Ironically, when I finally settled down to check my email I had a comment notification  on a blog post I’d written two years ago:

Aisha, on September 5, 2010 at 7:04 pm Said

Why don’t you get your poor kid off meds and go from there!

Why don’t I get my poor kid off meds?   Because I want him to have a childhood that doesn’t include detentions, perpetual groundings or juvenile hall.  Because I want him to be able to read when he grows up.  Because I want him to be respectful of others and a productive member of society.  Because I don’t want him to struggle for approval and acceptance only to ultimately find it in a group of kids existing on the fringe of what is right.  Because I want him to have more options for friends than those Fringe Kids.  Because if he doesn’t have to expend all his energy fighting the rules he can focus on ways to lift himself up.  Because I love him

I’m sure that tomorrow Ben will take his medication and it will be a better day.  Thank you, Aisha, for giving me reason to pause during a troublesome day and remember how much I love my son and just exactly why it is that I don’t get the poor kid off meds.

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Parental Ping-Pong with a side of memories

So much has been going on lately…  I did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in July.  My boys were gone most of the summer and I missed them like crazy.  Then they came home and I didn’t miss them so much after that.  And now school has started… and it just so happens that Danny is a kindergartener now.  Whew!  So very much happening and I haven’t been able to write a thing.  I’ve gotten part way through several posts.  But then I see a bright light or shiny object and, well, I just can’t seem to finish one up. 

I am determined to complete this one, though! 

~~~~~~

So, the boys were at their Va-Va’s house (Daddy-O’s mom) for most of the summer.  Ben doesn’t really enjoy going to her house.  She’s a hoverer.  A micro-manager.  She’ll get up in the middle of the night to check on my soundly sleeping, non-infant children.  Not that these are bad things… they’re just not MY things.  Nor, Ben’s apparently.  Thankfully, he doesn’t mind hanging out over there during the summer as much because he gets to swim more days than not.  But he feels that he “didn’t get a summer” to a great extent.  Danny, on the other hand, doesn’t mind being over there at all.  He could probably use much more hovering and micro-managing than he gets in our household.  Sorry, it’s just not the way I roll. 

We tried very hard to enjoy the kids when they came home on the weekends.  We did lots of fun things like going to the fair more times than we’ve EVER been before and taking in a few concerts, doing the lake thing, etc. It felt a lot like what I imagine a divorced parent feels on their visitation weekends with their kids.  Shove as much fun in as possible and be damned the rules.  While it was fun and certainly liberating, it was also sort of icky-feeling and I don’t ever want to have to feel like that again. 

And now school has begun.  I find it hard to fathom that I have both a Fifth Grader and a Kindergartener this year.  Danny is going to Hawthorne Elementary because they have a Special Needs Kinder class.  I just didn’t feel that he was socially ready to be in the mainstream kindergarten at Baywood.  I love that his class makeup is only 8 kids and a whopping 5 adults!  I also love, love, LOVE that he doesn’t have a dedicated Aide this year.  What I don’t love so much is that he seems WAY more advanced than his classmates and MUCH more social.  I worry that I’ve underestimated him.  I guess only time will tell.

As for Ben, well, I think this year will be very exciting for him.  At least my 5th grade year was.  I remember it very clearly.  At least the social aspects.  Interestingly, it’s the only year I can’t tell you specifically who my teacher was.  Hmmmm.  What I can tell you is that Angie Haywood and I both began wearing bras that year.  We were (if I remember correctly) the only girls in our class that did.  I also remember going behind the maintenance shed with a boy  – I think I was expecting a kiss and may have actually gotten one at some point (that part’s fuzzy)  – but instead got my bra snapped.  And so began my self-consciousness and poor  body image.  It was at least a decade and a half later before I realized that having boobs was like having a Super Power – they could be used for good or evil… but mostly, they could be USED.  Oh, wait… this isn’t about me. 

So, I’m thinking this is going to be a very fun year for Ben.  A year of great changes.  I hear rumors that pubic hair may be making an appearance sometime in the near future.  (Ack!!!!!  La, la, la, la, la! ) Really, though, I have no concept of the male pre-pubescent angst.  I’m beginning to gather there is a lot of anger and frustration that goes along with it, however.  Just the other day I required something of him – something, I’m guessing, that was either completely beneath him or too demanding of his precious time – causing him to fly into a frustrated meltdown and run to his room.  He was crying and mumbling angrily.  Then I heard his muffled yell of unfairness and hatred.  He was yelling into his pillow.  Oh, how I remember those days!  I considered it private time and didn’t interrupt him. 

So maybe there’s not such a difference between boys and girls at this age.  But here’s where my concern lies…  He doesn’t really seem to have many friends – certainly not a close or best friend.  When I dropped him off at school the first day there was a circle of 5 or 6 boys he’s known and played sports with since kindergarten.  I watched him circle the group several times, land once or twice for a minute or two then begin a meandering orbit again.  I don’t think he ever actually spoke to them beyond a hello.  It was the same last year.  Towards the end of the school year I thought he’d finally found a good friend.  He seemed to be hanging with one boy quite a bit.  However, when Ben approached him on the first day of school to ask how his summer was, he was told it was none of his business.  It hurts my heart.  I know how important friends are in these years of change! 

It wasn’t always like this for Ben.  Our weekends used to be filled with playdates and sleepovers.  He used to be met on the playground with a chorus of greetings.  Then we put him on ADHD medication.  Suddenly, everything seemed to change.  He doesn’t go outside to ride his bike on weekends anymore unless we push him to.  Even if we don’t let him watch tv or play video games he really doesn’t want to leave the house.  For the life of me I don’t know if it’s the medication or just Ben.  And I don’t know what to do about it. 

So, this is my year to worry about my oldest boy.  The youngest seems to be doing just fine.  Is this what parenting is all about?  A ping-pong game of worry and concern?  Maybe I’m just watching too much CSI and Criminal Minds and not having a close friendship is nothing to be concerned about… 

 

A Life Sentence

If you’ll remember back a bit, I posted an excerpt from Ben’s Sentence Completion List. This was an assignment from Dr. Flaton, the pediatric ADD specialist. As a very special treat for you today, I will post the remainder of Ben’s sentences. And perhaps a comment or two if you are very, very good readers. Just a reminder, Ben is 8 years old.

1. I would like to be a scientist.

2. My mother loves chocolate martinis. (ack! choke! cough! While technically true, this was not high on my list of things I wanted the doctor to know.)

3. I cannot have a cell phone. (This is so true. But I am considering wrist watch walkie talkies with a mile and a half range.)

4. If I only had a cell phone I’d love my Mom and Dad. (Boy! They learn early don’t they? The answer is still “NO!”)

5. Girls _____________________ (He had no reply to that. I find that comforting on so many levels.)

6. I am ashamed of Danny having attitude. (Note that he’s not ashamed of his own behavior. This answer is totally worthy of a presidential candidate!)

7. I am afraid of nothing. (Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of…)

8. I like Pokemon cards.

9. I don’t like summer school.

10. I love my Mom, Dad and Danny.

11. Boys are my friends.

12. Mother should do nothing. (I am not exactly sure how to take that… but I like it.)

13. There are times when I am bored.

14. I hate bullies.

15. It makes me sad to watch a kid being bullied.

16. My home is small.

17. Father should do nothing. (again with that?)

18. People think that I am stupid. (What!? After much teeth gnashing and hand wringing it turns out there is a snotty 2nd grader that asks him things like “what is 1000 x 200?” When Ben doesn’t know the answer he tells him he’s stupid. Grrrrr!)

19. Sometimes I think about skateboarding and fishing and surfing.

20. Nobody knows that I have ADD. (I can’t decide if it’s wonderful or really sad that he doesn’t get that people know he’s ADD…)

21. The best thing that ever happened to me was riding a horse.

22. The worst thing that ever happened to me was breaking my wrist the first time.

So, I guess we haven’t completely ruined our kid. Except for being outed about the chocolate martini addiction and the small house it’s all good.

Did anyone notice what didn’t make the list anywhere?????

CANCER.

That’s right. No cancer anywhere.

No, “worst thing that ever happened to me was mom getting cancer…”

No, “mom should buy a wig…”

No, “afraid my mom will die…”

Just normal, every day eight-year-old boy stuff: science, surfing, cell phones and Pokemon cards. Thank you, Lord!

Cross posted to Mothers with Cancer

Imaginary friends, clinical trials and the joys of poop

I’ve had a bunch of things to share with you, none of which seemed worthy of a whole post in and of themselves. So today will be a Tapas Topic day, in that the subjects will be small and plentiful yet not enough to make a post.

Tapa numero uno
First there is this new site called BreastCancerTrials.Org that lets you enter your health history, then matches you up with any clinical trials you might qualify for. All for free. How cool is that? Well, not cooler than not actually having cancer… but still pretty nifty.

I entered my information. Since I am currently cancer-free, am not undergoing any treatments and do not take Herceptin or any other receptor-positive treatments (praise God for all that), I only qualify for two trials, neither of which I am interested in at the moment. The first, categorized as Supportive, was on treating vaginal dryness for women with breast cancer. Um, yeah. No thanks. The second is Preventative in nature and one I would be interested in if it were closer to me. It is on diet and exercise to prevent breast cancer or a recurrence. So interested in that. Unfortunately, the nearest research site is Houston, TX. But that doesn’t mean YOU won’t have better luck so go fill out your own health history and see what pops up.

Tapa numero dos
And did I tell you that Danny has an imaginary friend. Yep. It’s official. Absolutely no one knows who Brenden is – ergo, he must only exist in D’s imagination – unless he suddenly grew a social life I don’t know about. (And how unfair would that be since I don’t have one?) I guess Brenden has been hanging around in conversation for about 5 or 6 weeks now. I actually thought he was a real kid. Danny talks about him the same way he talks about everyone else, in the third person, in question format, as if he interacts with them on a daily basis. (i.e. “Does Alayna clap at the soccer game?”) I just assumed Brenden was one of the boys in his new preschool class. When I finally got around to asking, turns out he’s not.

I’ve never known anyone that actually had an imaginary friend. Intellectually I know there is nothing wrong with it but I guess I’ve still always thought there was just a little something off about those kids. And that’s not to say there isn’t something a just a little off about Danny either… However, this article I found from the Seattle Post – Intelligencer Reporter was comforting nonetheless.

Tapa numero tres
For those of you sick to death of politics, please skip this tapa. Actually, this might fall more under the confession category than anything else. I voted “yes” on Proposition 8 – the ban on gay marriage. Weeks ago, actually. And now I wish I could take back my vote. I have never had an issue with civil unions or any of the other rights or privileges that come along with such a legal status. My single objection has always been with calling a same-sex partnership a marriage. How hypocritical of me. Who am I to deny equality to any segment of society? The worst of it is that I knew it was hypocritical and discriminatory when I cast the vote. And still I did it! I voted with my emotions and not my intellect. Gah! I hope it is overturned – again.

Tapa numero quatro
I promise this one is lighter by far. We’ve been seeing an ADD specialist for Ben, Dr. Flaton. I really, really like working with her. She’s already given me great insight into what it must be like to be ADHD… helped me see things from Ben’s viewpoint. At any rate, she gave Ben a bunch of questions to answer before our next appointment. They are haaard questions. At least I thought so. I guess they could be perfectly simple also. The few that Ben completed I thought were answered very well. (spelling has been corrected because I couldn’t stand it.)

  1. Tomorrow I will “go to the beach and play.”
  2. I wish that I “was rich and famous.”
  3. I worry about “my little brother.”
  4. I hope “I will never die in a 100 years.”
  5. My father “is going fishing today.”
  6. In school I “learn about science.”
  7. It isn’t nice to “be a bully to other kids.”
  8. My teacher “is nice and kind.”

Tapa numero cinco
Yesterday was our last soccer obligation for the season. It was an entire tournament day. We love soccer and have had a wonderful season – even though we haven’t won a single game. Well, before yesterday. We actually won the very last game of the season. 4-0. Woohoo! The boys were thrilled! Here is a picture of Ben celebrating with Coach Daddy-O.

Sweet, huh? Oh course, that’s not the real story here. Danny and I sat on the sidelines the whole day. We had a great time cheering an clapping for Ben’s team.

Unfortunately, Danny had an accident in his pants because the port-a-potties were so far away.

Fortunately, I had thought ahead and put him in a pull-up before we left the house.

Unfortunately, I had already removed all kid stuff from my van in preparation for Daddy-O’s fishing trip so I didn’t have any wipes or other pull-ups. Yikes! It was only 10 AM.

Fortunately, one of the other mom’s had everything I needed. Day saved. After lunch there was another small accident before we made it to the outhouse.

Unfortunately, this time there was diarrhea involved. Ack! Still no supplies and now day-saving mom had taken her diaper bag to lunch.

Fortunately, Danny doesn’t mind going commando.

Unfortunately, the diarrhea wasn’t an isolated incident.

Fortunately, he was wearing very dark, thick pants and there wasn’t very much of it… that second time.

Unfortunately, there was also a third time.

All I can say is that my youngest son is such a trooper. He was swooped up, rushed home, stripped, thrown in a bath, scrubbed within an inch of his life, brusquely dried & redressed then back at the soccer fields within 30 minutes. Surely a record.

Portions cross posted to Mothers With Cancer

What goes up… must come down.

Ben started third grade today. Ben. The squalling, purple-turbaned, red-faced infant that slid into this world all covered in uterine slime a mere 8 years ago. Yeah. That Ben.

Yet, this morning (after his Focalin kicked in) he finished getting dressed, brushed his teeth without being yelled at and packed his backpack with his first ever 3-ring binder before sitting down to wait until it was time to leave. He had 10 minutes to spare. Sweet!

His new teacher is Mrs. Stiles. She was a 2nd grade teacher last year. Ben was a bit disappointed in that at first. “I got a 2nd grade teacher?”, he complained. This while we looked at the lists of classes posted on the school doors. Do you remember doing that? The excitement of rushing to school on Friday to see who’s class you were in and if any of your friends were in that class too? Flashback.

Anyway, all disappointment was gone as we entered his classroom today. Mrs. Stiles gave him a giant hug and told him how happy she was to have him in her class. “I was hoping and hoping all summer.” she said, “Please, let me get Ben. Please let me get Ben.” She looked to me and explained, “I had Ben for science last year. It was great. We both love science!”

Ben was all smiles and happily off to find his assigned seat – in the back row of the class. What a compliment. I had to explain to Ben that the teachers only put a certain type of student in the last row. Good students. Ones who don’t get in trouble. Students that don’t need to be babysat all day. By placing him there Mrs. Stiles was letting him know how much she trusted him.

What a far cry from our Kindergarten / First grade years. The pre-medicated years.

Here is my big, trustworthy 3rd grader.


Then he came home from school and went to the rope swing down the street. The rope got stuck. Through his tears he tells me how he climbed the tree and had it all planned out. Ugh. My stomach drops. I knew what he’d done. I looked him over from head to toe, the entire front of his body covered in a thick dusting of silty dirt. There were clean streaks down his cheeks and muddy spots under each nostril then smeared across his upper lip from his tears and running nose. He was holding his forearm immobile.

“You didn’t jump for the rope, did you? Oh no, Ben.” At my question the dam breaks, he sobs that he thinks his wrist is broken. Apparently, Tarzan he is not.

He also is not broken. I do think he is bent fairly well, however. Two hours post free-fall he felt well enough to go to the store with Daddy-O to get an ace bandage and be fitted for a sling.

And so begins the third grade.

The Mysterious Feeding Habits of Eight Year Olds

Ben doesn’t eat.

When he was but a wee babe and I, an impressionable new mother bombarded by advertisements on BabyCenter, I ordered his complete astrological chart over the internet. What can I say? I was curious and apparently in possession of much more discretionary income than I have now.

I have never believed in astrology. That is to say, I think it’s fun and interesting in a coincidental, “Ha! That is so you (and also me and her and sixteen other people that I know)!”, sort of way. Just like Taro Cards but not as creepy. In retrospect, Ben’s 20-something page astrological work up is uncannily accurate. Yes. I kept the damn thing. I paid like $20 for it in 2000. I put it in his baby book and ran across it a year or so ago.

What really sticks in my mind, besides the general right-onness of the whole thing, is the prediction that “food will not be a motivating factor in his life.” Truer words were never spoke, er, written.

Ben is far and away, the pickiest eater I have ever seen. He loves chicken nuggets. From McDonalds. Not the ones from Burger King. They are too spicy. But he won’t eat plain old chicken in any other form without a continuous barage of threats from all adult-types in the near vacinity. Ditto with fries of the french variety. Loves them. But just try to get him to eat tater tots. Tater tots, for God’s sake! I lived for those when I was a kid. He barely does pizza and he won’t touch a hamburger. Pasta must be sause-free with butter and, shudder, canned parmesan cheese only. He will eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese but no other incantation of the stuff. On the other hand, he’s happy to eat vegetables with the exceptions of broccoli and asparagus.

I just don’t get it. If it weren’t for peanut butter and jelly I’m pretty sure he’d waste away to nothing.

Once we started him on ADHD meds things just got worse. At that point we could no longer count on the old “when he gets hungry enough, he’ll eat” adage. He was simply never hungry.

Until bedtime.

His medication wears off just about an hour before bedtime these days. That last hour can be trying, to say the least. Ben’s behavior can get extremely aggressive and confrontational. And he’s got a whole day’s worth of hunger built up inside.

The problem: How do you teach an eight year old boy to eat at mealtime, even if he isn’t that hungry? Because eating at bedtime just is not appropriate. Don’t get me wrong. We let him have apples and bananas, an probably way more dessert than he ought to have at that point in the evening. But he’s still hungry. It becomes impossible to tell what is true hunger and what is typical bedtime stalling tactics.

Ben’s solution: The other day I was straightening up Ben’s bed and I noticed two empty cookie packages and a full cheese it package under his covers. He is getting up in the middle of the night and sneaking food. He admitted as much when confronted. This is not the first time he has done this. We told him his punishment would be no sweets at all, nothing but fruit, for a week.

The next day I found frosting in his bed from the cinnamon twists we’d ordered with our pizza. Again, middle of the night snacking. I added two days to his punishment.

Yesterday Daddy-O found a bannana peel in his bed. OK. He’s at least eating better in the middle of the night but still.

Anyone have any bright ideas? We’re kind of at a loss here.

Meds back on board

I am feeling much better now. I refilled my Effexor for my mood swings… And baseball has begun…


I think B is going to have a good season.