We are getting close to meds. I can feel it.

I’ve been seeing a lot of signs lately, even though I’m not sure signs really exist. Things are adding up, the scales are tipping, I’ve about given up.

This week alone, I got my hair cut and had a 45-minute conversation with my stylist about how Ritalin changed her son’s life in first grade (he’s now a straight-A middle-schooler who loves to fish). McD’s Kindergarten behavior chart had not one Smiley Face all week (disrespecting teacher, laughing at discipline, ugly words, running in hallway, playing constantly, not following directions) and he had to stay in for recess one day. Soccer practice (site of my own recent distress) was a waste of time. Then I came home to read an essay about the night-and-day difference at soccer practice for one ADHD Kindergartener after medication. Just last night, McDiesel unbuckled himself on the highway coming home from his brother’s soccer practice and bounced around the car, ultimately landing on the floor of the front passenger side. At home, he tried to set wooden spoons ablaze on the stove burners while I attempted to make him dinner. I resorted to melatonin at 6:20.

When I talked to the child psychiatrist last month, he advised waiting as long as we could. And I think our waiting time might be up.

We’ve been living in a state of “impairment” for so long that I usually don’t see the signs—or even consider them that big a deal. (What, not everyone’s five-year-old tries to light wooden spoons on fire?) And, to tell the truth, the soccer field has more to do with my preoccupation with a medicated utopia than the chaos in the car or on the stove, as dangerous as that behavior is.

It’s the poking, joking, contrariness at soccer that’s getting to me. It’s that McD is putting the cones on his head for laughs instead of listening to directions or participating in the drill. It’s that he will intentionally kick the ball in the opposite direction he’s told to or just sit on his ball in the middle of a scrimmage. Last Saturday, we looked like lunatic hockey parents, screaming at McD from the sidelines. But seriously, did anyone think he kicked the ball out of bounds that many times accidentally? Seeing him amidst a handful of his little peers—all of them acting wild and silly, but McD just that much more—is close to devastating for me; he has no OFF switch, he does not know when enough’s enough, he will not—cannot—STOP. It is sign enough.

All week—at soccer, signing his Frowny Face behavior chart, grabbing the singed wooden spoon from his hand—I think about all the things we might begin to do unimpaired: eat out as a family, go to church, drive in peace and relative safety, go camping (even though I don’t really like camping), spend the holidays at my parents’ house where it will be freezing and we will have to stay indoors, accept dinner party invitations like the one we’ll have to skip tomorrow. Be together without (as much) yelling and provoking and throwing.

I know I will regret putting McDiesel on meds. I regret even thinking about it. But this week really feels like a sign that there really is no choice.

(I will have to remind myself of the following when I’m overcome with guilt: would it be better to wait til the house burns down? Do I expect to win some prize for keeping him off meds when he’s thrown through the windshield? Do I secretly think I’m a better mother for my long-suffering perseverance? (Obviously, yes.) Will I have anything to write about if he’s no longer a threat to my sanity?  (Will it matter if he shatters the laptop screen–again?)


4 thoughts on “Signs

  1. It’s such a tough decision. We researched the the brain difference of kids with ADHD and then likened it to diabetes. If his body couldn’t produce insulin, we would not hesitate to give him a shot or a pill every day. With ADHD his body isn’t producing what it needs to to give his brain the stimulation it craves. So now we give him a pill that helps him.

    Good luck and hang in there.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with Andy and Carolofwords. Your son has a brain-based disorder that will not get better on its own. Right now, he can’t function properly in his life, which means he’s missing out on a whole lot of “little boy” experiences. If your son had diabetes, you would give him insulin. If he had epilepsy, you would give him meds. The media tells us that meds are the easy way out, but it’s not. Meds are very often the only way a child’s brain can begin to work properly so that he can learn the skills he needs to function properly. How can a child participate in behaviour therapy if he can’t listen or control his impulses? Meds are just one piece of an integrated therapy plan. Does every child with ADHD need meds? No, not necessarily (in my opinion).

    What the media leaves out (and all the ADHD meds-naysayers) is that statistics have shown that 1/3 of kids with ADHD either drop out of high school or delay graduation. Studies from around the world have also shown that anywhere between 25% and 40% of prison inmates have ADHD. No surprise there…get involved in drugs/alcohol because of poor impulse control, drop out of school, get involved in crime, land in jail.

    In my mind, providing a child who needs ADHD meds with those meds means giving them a chance to excel, to reach their full potential, to become the incredible person we know they are.

    For the record, our lives changed more than I can ever tell you when we provided our son with the meds he needed. He has severe ADHD, ODD, anxiety, and Sensory Processing Disorder. He now has friends, functions well in class, can enjoy himself at public events — he’s a little boy who can be a little boy now. We all have more fun together, because now we can do things as a family.

    I hope this didn’t come across preachy. I totally understand your hesitation, but I hate that you’re feeling guilty about this.


    Laura — AKA The ODD Mom

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