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

5 thoughts on “How we Got To Here (Part 6)

  1. navasha: MAN i feel for you! i know it won’t do any good to say as much- but please don’t feel ashamed… sending cyber hugs and LOTS of good vibes your way!
    EMAIL ME WOMAN!!! it is hard to talk to people who aren’t or haven’t gone through it themselves, and on email we can talk more- if it suits you…

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this,I am looking forward to reading your next installments.

    We are on the same page at the moment. I have the diet and star charts, I have a long list of therapies we pay for and guess what no results.

    I just feel like hanging my head in shame. It just felt good to find someone who has the same thing at the moment. Its so difficult to try explain what I am going through to anyone who has not been called in to class repeatedly.

  3. katy katy katy: thanx! you’re a peach!

    nmotb: i’m sorry you missed the cake and tea- i over cateredas always!

  4. Hi Bud!!! We are leaving in the next 30 mins (I am dead tired and have not managed to sleep (we are going down with both our cars, so I have to drive!!!!)) I will let you know when we have arrived!

    We are not going to be here for Damiens “koek en Tee” but will see you when we get back!!!!!

    Love you madly, Bye!!!

  5. i think you are great for trying it the hard way (no meds) first. And no offense but noone that knows you just a bit would EVER think you are not a great parent

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