How we Got To Here (Part 6)

My pleas to the school to try to get them to change his teacher or his class fell on deaf ears. And I didn’t argue too much because these people were supposed to know what they were doing. This same grade one teacher who I disliked so much had also implemented a little book in which she wrote everyday all about what Damien had done wrong that day. I could then write notes to her in the same book. Fabulous boost for Damien’s confidence, eh? He knew all about what that book was for- I think she brandished it in class a little like a weapon. The one day Damien came home with his top two buttons missing on his short. He said his teacher had grabbed him by the collar! I was speechless and furious! This was abuse was it not?

Whew… deep breath… I’m getting angry all over again! I’ll be back…

Right… I’m back.

I confronted the teacher as soon as I could about her grabbing him and she said she had- and I told her it was unacceptable to me for her to have lost her temper like that- she of course blamed Damien’s behaviour.

Then about halfway through the year, I was called in yet again and told Damien would have to repeat grade one. Guilt immediately set in- of course…

At this stage- I was in the process of starting to research ADHD and look for a doctor and so on. I was of course completely anti-Ritalin and doping my son, being clueless as to exactly how ADHD worked and was treated… then by phoning around and talking to teachers I found a psychiatrist who dealt with kids like Damien. I made an appointment and we went to see her. The first visit to her was a long one- filling out reams and reams of paperwork and questionnaires which she then used to diagnose Damien as a textbook case of ADHD. I have since decided that there is no such thing… but that’s for later. I was immensely relieved to have an official reason why Damien was battling so much at school, but at the same time- I was heartbroken because my darling little boy wasn’t perfect.

I also took his diagnosis very personally (how could I not right?!?!?). ADHD was still new to South Africa and I knew very little about it, and took his being diagnosed with it as an affront to my parenting skills. I am still very sensitive over being judged for being a single parent- and people deciding that things that go wrong must be because I can’t cope… I have learned to deal with it a bit though. Okay- only sometimes… I no longer make it quite as obvious (I don’t think) that I am offended by someone seemingly judging my decisions and judging Damien. I am always mightily offended when people immediately refer to me as Mrs Damien’s Mom, and I always correct them! I am always mightily offended when teachers ask where Damien’s father is on parent-teacher day, I figure they should know him well enough to know he doesn’t have one, and then I also get upset with people asking for Damien’s father when he’s in trouble- even if they don’t know he doesn’t have one! Can’t win can they!?!

Anyhoo- back to his diagnosis.

I told the school he’d been diagnosed, and was being treated and I told them what the doctor had told me and that they needed to be patient with him and so on. Very few teachers knew about ADHD, and even fewer were prepared to give Damien any kind of leeway… but just having a diagnosis was a step in some kind of direction. We did not try Ritalin right away; his psych recommended a multi-vitamin that was specially formulated for ADHDers, a special diet, occupational therapy an speech therapy first, so that’s what we did. We also had his ears and eyes tested to eliminate any possible problems there. Then we cut out colourants, caffeine, sugar and preservatives. We started eating as much fish and green veggies as my budget would allow. I packed him a school lunch everyday that would have been the envy of most people- but since he’d never been a big eater anyway he brought most of it home… he would get sandwiches (usually with peanut butter on), dried fruit, fruit juice, fresh fruit, biscuits like TUC or Provitas, I’d pack him viennas or tuna or chicken… half his school bag was his lunch and four days out of five it came home untouched! And I tell you- eating properly is FAR from cheap! The nett effect on his school work and behaviour at school…? Negligible!

I was in tears on a daily basis…

part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5

I Like Nothing Better…

…than having a nice full grocery trolley- and bumping into Damien’s paternal grandparents in the mall!
It may be a little infantile- but I really get a kick out of it.
You see, when I get a bonus of any kind, I stock up on groceries (just in case) and yesterday Damien and I pushed our very full trolley into the pasta and spices aisle- and ahead of us were Damien’s father’s parents!
I know they saw us- we looked at each other- but we don’t ever acknowledge each other, and if I didn’t point them out to you you wouldn’t know I knew them. That’s how its always been. They left shortly afterwards, but I so like to make it obvious how little we need them or theirs!

Hey Bunnies!

I hope you all had a fantabulous weekend- I sure did… I overslept on Saturday morning and missed the 06h30 prayer meeting at the church which I promised to do for Lent, and when I apologised yesterday, it turned out that none of the Lenten volunteers arrived! Isn’t Murphy a bitch!
I am still waiting for a new laptop, and I’ll answer all the comments on the last post later today (thanx for all those!)…
And I just wanted to let you all know- on Friday, Damien’s school closed for the Easter holidays- three weeks in total. As a result, he brought home a report card for the first term. I was speechless when I read it- in fact, I nearly swallowed my tongue! He got a 54.7% average bunnies!!!! I am so immensely proud of him, especially since the highest he managed last year was about 37%!!! It’s a huge improvement, and I don’t think Damien realises how big a jump he’s made.
We spent the afternoon mall crawling and went to the movies on Saturday night (we watched “Night At The Museum” which really is very funny) to celebrate his achievement.
I am so hoping I get my laptop back ASAP… I am so behind in my support groups and this is seriously starting to drive me nuts!

Dans La Réponse…

Homo Escapeons left me this comment on this post. It reads as follows: Africa is presented by the media as one huge gigantic mess and next to the Middle East, the most dangerous place to live in the entire world. To be honest our understanding of Africa is that it is a time bomb. Thanks to the myriad of insurmountable obstacles that must be overcome from HIV & Overpopulation… most disconcerting of all is the failure of emancipated Colonial slaves to make any progress because of the spectacular reversion to tribal/political warfare and tyrannical despots. From Darfur to Joburg all we get from the media are horrible violent images and endless images of suffering and savage inhumanity… so we have no idea what is really going on because we only get BAD news. Sadly, I would say that most Westerners know more about saving the great Apes in equatorial Africa and stopping poachers who slaughter Elephants, than they do about the 870 million people who are trying to dig themselves out from under Centuries of oppression. Recently I watched a documentary; Guns, Germs and Steel, and learned how the Europeans successfully conquered South Africa thanks to the similarities in climate and eliminated tribal resistance through superior technology and disease… just like the Conquistadors did in latin America. I would love to hear your side of it because I saw another documentary on Joburg which is the murder capital of the world. All we get over here is Darfur/Black Hawk Down/Blood Diamond/Hotel Rwanda/Gorillas In The Mist you get the picture… from here it looks hopeless and insane… from top to bottom… how would you describe it?
Well… you said it dude! “hopeless and insane… from top to bottom…” is not far from the truth IMHO.
Honestly, I wish I could tell you the media has it bass-ackwards… but as much as I love my country, it really is a very scary place!
We live behind gates and high walls and burglar proofing and alarms. We even have gates inside our houses between the different areas like bedrooms and living spaces, just in case the bad guys get past the outside security measures. In fact, seeing a house without a high wall and/or razor wire is unusual. You don’t drive with your car doors unlocked or windows open for fear of being hijacked. You clutch your belongings to you in public for fear of being pick-pocketed. School kids are mugged for cell phones or their bicycles. And not just held up- they’re often stabbed or shot even if they cooperate. When I was a kid- we often disappeared for a whole Saturday on our bicycles- with no cell phones or even specific destination… now I hardly dare let my teenage son out of my sight and I worry constantly if he goes out alone to ride his bike or skateboard! And despite what our president says (
that it’s the racist white’s fear of blacks and not actual crime) it’s a very very real problem. And it truly doesn’t matter what colour your skin is… everyone is affected in one way or another. No one is safe from any kind of crime. You will not find anyone who does not have a crime story or six of their own. Most children’s first sexual experience is not voluntary. Corruption is drastic- in our leaders especially.
And before I get shot down as a negative pessimistic racist- I’ll say one other thing, I think it is simply a case of people like me having access to email, telephones, websites and blogs where I can talk about the crimes I experience and the crimes that the ones close to me are exposed to- where most South Africans living in townships without even electricity are just as affected by crime (if not more so since they don’t have the alarm systems and razor wire we live behind in the suburbs) but do not have as much opportunity to gripe about it. It also seems to me that it truly does not matter where you live or what precautions you take- I have friends and relatives who live on farms, on small holdings, in residential suburbs and inside supposedly secure townhouse complexes who have been attacked and robbed and burgled and hijacked on more than one occasion.