Cole is our second child. Our daughter Madison was an angel of a child. Sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. Good potty training. No terrible twos. Very polite. Very creative. Good student. A few errors in judgement during second grade... But she's now 11, so all bets are off- right?
We read all the books when we had Madi. What to Expect... Babywise... activity books... parenting, etc. So when she was about three we figured we had this parenting thing down. So when Cole came along, one could say that we were a little cocky. Not arrogant, but I'm sure my wife will agree that we were a little lax with him. And eight years later, she's still on a good track. Was that the cause of his ADHD?...
Cole had terrible twos.
Cole had terrible fours. We would get calls from his preschool saying that he hit other kids or was disruptive during story time. This was the same teacher who taught Madi at that age so we had some good history. Did this teacher suddenly dislike our family and exaggerate because she didn't like our son? Very doubtful. So whenever we'd hear of these incidents we'd try to talk about it with him. The response was always "I don't remember" or "I don't know". How do you parent hearsay that isn't acknowledged by the accused? Was this the cause of his ADHD?...
When he started kindergarten, I had a heart to heart talk with his pediatrician. The one we've had for years and has known us since Madi was three. I recounted my youth and how I saw some similarities with Cole. Sure we had discussed it in the past, but this was the first time we had discussed it specifically as a hereditary thing. But I never took medication, and I did fine in school, and I went to college and I was able to find gainful employment and find a wonderful wife and be responsible and not hurt myself or become an addict or make irrational- life changing impulsive decisions. So even if he did have ADHD, that's a BS over diagnosed prognosis of this generation for lame parents who are too lazy to actually be good parents. But he nonetheless said that Cole might have ADHD.
My own biggest challenge is that Cole is very intelligent. We're talking about being a natural at math and even helping his sixth grade "gifted" sister with her homework. Very logical. Very bright. Without medicine smart. And not "nerd" smart. Sure he's good at math, but he also loves so many other things and wants to learn about things. So my attitude was that he's smart enough to understand scholastic concepts- why couldn't he understand that his actions affect how others perceive him? Why couldn't the logic of math or spelling be transferred into correlating cause and effect and why people don't like being around him? I always believed that there was a correlation between intelligence and learning social queues.
Almost two years ago- when he was done with kindergarten, before we took our first long distance family trip, and when he was five years old, we made a decision. We were going to go to a psychiatrist because we had finally opened our minds that he might really have ADHD and that no matter what we tried outside of medicine, it would not do any good or would only have temporary success. He was diagnosed and we put him on medication. And we modified until we found something that seemed to keep him in control when he needed to be- in a classroom.
With that "improvement" came a lack of appetite, nocturnal bruxism, chewing on his shirt collar and a lack of interest in doing much outside of the house. But he wasn't hurting other kids. And he wasn't disrupting class. And for once we didn't have to worry during church, or during school, that we'd get called to come pick him up. Was that success? Sort of...
He'd still be emotional, be extremely competitive- even crying when he lost a simple game of Chutes and Ladders- and he understands odds and that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And whenever I would lose to him at a game, I would always give the example of being a gracious loser and relating it to him and how he acts when he loses. But then he'd go brag about beating me. And the next game when I beat him he'd have an epic meltdown including throwing things and being flat out hysterical. And this is the odds maker kid!
|(btw, what's up with all the fat kids?)|
So for the past three weeks we have not given Cole his medication. We have tried to control our own natural tendencies towards yelling and provoking and doing things that would set him off. He hasn't played video games for two of those weeks. He wants to be outdoors all the time. He want's to find friends in the neighborhood to play with all the time. He's eating more. He goes to sleep easier. But he's also gotten in trouble several times for hitting other kids. His teacher admitted to giving him "green" for the day because she knows that if he doesn't get green he will go ballistic, melt down in front of the whole class and really lean on his percentage of the 25 to one ratio of his class. He's lost two friends that he's had for a year. He hits his sister more. He doesn't listen to quiet request number one, quiet request number two, firm but quiet order with emphasis that he's been asked twice, raised voice request with naming of consequence, flat out yelling that is met with "daddy's yelling" and then emotional crumble and undoubted long term scarring.
I actually started writing this for a general purpose, but now I've gone on about Cole in particular. Perhaps I needed to vent a little. Sure some of you will say we are horrible parents and I'll resort back to my vulgarity in paragraph one- no need to repeat it. So why am I so mad?
Where did ADHD come from in its present form and why does 20% of our male adolescent population supposedly have it? Before Cole, my default answer was pharmaceutical companies, lazy parents, lazy school officials and overzealous doctors who are quick to "fix" the problem instead of addressing the cause. Now that I am on the other side and myself have an ADHD kid, where does it come from? I believe it's something more than my prior answers. Here's a few where in 30 years, someone might find a direct correlation:
- Is it pesticides?
- Is it those food dyes?
- Mario and Luigi?
- Saltwater pools?
- Snuggle fabric softner?
- Pyjamas made in certain factories in China?
- Chuck-E-Cheese tokens?
- The music of Katy, Kesha, Rianna, Brittney and everyone else?
- The Tivo sound?
- Paint on certain playground equipment?
- Bottled water?
- Bicycle helmets?
- "Everyone's a winner" sports leagues?
- Pixar movies?
- Country Crock spread?
- Certain brands of disposable diapers?
- Costco hot dogs?
- Monster Energy drinks?
- Apple computer?
- The Internet?
- Tyler Perry?