Okay, so I drug my kids. There. I said it: I drug my kids. Heroine mostly, but it’s no big deal.
Actually, they take prescription medication to treat ADHD and sensory modulation disorder — but you aren’t judging me quite so harshly any more are you?
Or ARE you? If I may offer a bit of perspective, let me be the first to say that I am constantly judging myself for “drugging my kids.” I don’t like it and my husband and I didn’t come to the decision easily. Shall I tell you a story? I thought you’d never ask. I think I’ll divide it into two posts. First we’ll do the early years (Clarke) and under separate post so you don’t lose focus (pun intended) will be relative to our current work with Bryce.
When my daughter went to kindergarten at a private school 9 years ago, I was aware she was a handful. Those stupid stoplight reports they give the kids with a green for “good”, yellow for “not so much” and red for “break out the vodka” kept coming home with…lets say an average of orange most weeks. So, I contacted the teacher and asked for a conference to talk things over with her. Unbeknownst to me, I had apparently (all but) alerted social services. When Frank & I went to the school to discuss issues with Mrs. Snarkey-pants, we were ushered into the principal’s office where at the conference table sat not only the teacher, but the principal, vice principal, school counselor and possibly a rodeo clown. I can’t remember the ambush too clearly.
As the behavior “issues” were outlined to us, we were peppered with questions about our home life, schedule, dietary habits, sex life and credit score. Okay, they didn’t get as personal as asking our credit score…but the upshot was that they recommended I take her to the pediatrician for an evaluation. I left the school in a puddle of tears feeling completely attacked and inadequate. Clarke is my first child and after all, she is the test run, so I didn’t feel confident about my parenting to say the least At the evaluation a few weeks later, the doctor, whom I will always love (Dr. Arnold Snitz) was kind and gentle. He said to me in his delightful wisdom, “Well, she’s acting like a 5 year old, which is exactly how she should act. Don’t worry about it.” Did I mention I love that man? That was the last kind word I heard about my daughter from an authority until she was in the fourth grade. But I digress…
Although we moved to Concord and started public school, the behavioral issues continued. Clarke’s second grade teacher told me she was not doing well in school and was unable to maintain friendships. Well, why didn’t the firing squad at Kindergarten let me know it was impacting her social life?? THATS SERIOUS! Long story short, we found ourselves with a new doctor who evaluated her and the paperwork sent by the teacher, myself and the school counselor and diagnosed her with ADD. It was no small process and all the evidence pointed to the fact that I was a bad parent. No amount of withholding TV, refusing to buy video games, eliminating sugar or banning soda had helped so it must have meant that I had failed.
Clarke practiced swallowing skittles whole to get ready for the first experience of taking the medicine. She did just fine. I was relieved. But then the morning she had to actually take the concerta, it was a disaster. She couldn’t swallow them and spit them out. No amount of coaching or skittling could make it go down. I shouted at her. She cried, I cried. Finally, I slammed the pill on the table in front of her, refilled the orange juice and left the room, telling her to take her time (but not too much because I was late for work). As I suspected, without the specter of my looming tension, she was able to do it. (Oh and by the way, that song about the “spoon full of sugar” is bull. The girl practically gagged).
But things did eventually get better. After weeks of bringing home “green lights” on the report card and finally making and keeping a friend, I realized everything was going to be okay. But I tried to keep it as much to myself as possible because I still felt ashamed. I still felt like a failure. And heaven knows, parents who don’t drug their kids sure judge those of us who do. But this wasn’t about me: it was about Clarke and her success and her happiness. She stopped hating school and started to become more confident. She kept her joyful and delightful personality. And now that she’s older, she seems to have settled down a little and needs the drugs less and less. She’s going to be just fine and so am I.
So, there’s my confession – yes, world, I drug my kids. I don’t like that I couldn’t make ADD go away with prayer, diet, exercise and self-loathing. Powerlessness is not my thing, but surrender turned out to be. I surrendered to the fact that sometimes, it takes more than me to solve a problem.