Step Two

Okay (said in a bright cheery voice with a slightly higher pitch than normal)! Wasn’t too bad- Damien could have been a little more cheerful though. But he’s so tired of going to doctors and specialists by now. The psych we went to see has referred us to someone else- who is on holiday but will get back to me upon her return. He says he does not have the experience or knowledge to deal with problems that are most likely linked to his ADHD diagnosis. He was really nice and says he likes and trusts this other psych. She specialises in treating kids with ADHD and although she doesn’t usually take on new patients over the age of twelve, she’s willing to see us.

Its Not My Fault

If you really want to annoy me- then tell me my son’s ADHD is a result of me being a single mom. Apparently there are doctors telling their patients and their patient’s parents that single parenthood and divorce is a major cause of ADHD and ADD. Bollocks! Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks! It’s a medical bloody disorder and needs to be treated as such, with medication and/or therapy. If it were true that single parenthood or divorce is to blame then you could also start blaming your boss if you suffer from depression because he stresses you out at work! If it were true then you may as well tell parents of children with other types of disorders that that’s their fault too! How lame is that! This is exactly the type of bull-dust story that gives Ritalin and Adders such a bad reputation. Aaaaargh, IDIOTS!

The Weekend Report

It was quite busy actually* Friday was payday, so we got KFC coz I’d been dreaming about twistas for a week! Then we went home, watched “Shrek”, and played computer games well into the night. Saturday morning we were up early (despite an anticipated sleep-in) to go to the bank & ship ourselves off to Damien’s doctor (the one who treats his ADHD). It’s a monthly appointment and if he wasn’t the only doctor to have made a difference in Damien’s performance (ever) I would long ago have looked for another doctor. It’s a two to three hour round trip (including the appointment, depending on traffic and the doctor’s delays) and he’s a crotchety, obnoxious old man. And thanx to me being such a sweet, accepting person (NOT) we argue plenty. Anyhoo, when we got home my darling baby sister dropped off her washing machine for me while she was moving back into my folks place- LOVING THE WASHING MACHINE PEOPLE! It even call’s me when it’s finished! Greebo loves it too, he sits on it all the time- he loves me again coz he thinks I got it especially for him (he even slept with me last night). My machine’s been broken for weeks and I’ve been using everyone else’s as and when thy can fit a load in for me (thanx mom and B). Love you C, thank you. Saturday evening was our fourth ladies movie night. We saw “hitch” and all agreed that all men should see it, and then see it again and take notes! A lekker evening overall. Damien stayed with my brother since my sister-in-law was with us so he had fun too, since he all but worships my brother! Saturday morning we were up early again, my brother surprised Damien with an invitation to go fishing on Sunday morning so Damien begged me if he could please miss Sunday school for a change “coz we aren’t really doing anything” he said. I went to church with my mom and Damien came home round lunch time. I was doing washing (no surprise there- I reckon it should take me a week to catch up if I do a load a day!) Damien spent most of the day in his cage playing LEGO and I worked a little and blogged a little and read a little and snoozed a little* and then last night I baked cookies!
Not bad, but I wish I could have gone shopping- just once* I really miss being able to shop!

In Praise Of Single Parenting

I just had to put this in, I saw this picture of my son again this morning and it made me think of this article. I have found other stuff of hers on the web that makes for interesting reading, but this one in particular is very close to my heart.

Pity the poor single mom! Not only does she bring home the bacon, she also has to cook it. Not for her the comfort of a partner to pick up the slack, a Daddy to do homework duty, a husband to haul out the trash. But the perks of single momming aren’t to be sniffed at: most Single mothers get every second weekend off, it’s usually agreed Dad will have the children for a Saturday and Sunday every fortnight. Which other parent can have four child-free days a month? I adore my children to within an inch of their miraculous lives, but sometimes, when I drop them off on a Friday evening, I drive off singing. No dinners to cook. No bedtime battles. No 6am “Ma, can we watch K-TV?” to negotiate. And, for those who’ve been brave enough to embark on another relationship, no hiding under the duvet. Yahoo! Chandeliers, here we come. The children are more independent. Any kid who’s had to help his mom unblock a noisome kitchen sink, or let himself into the house every afternoon throughout high school, is going to develop an innate independence. I’m amazed by the initiative shown by my children – they sew on their own buttons, change their own light bulbs, and clean their own teeth (admittedly, only after 13 years of reminders). Single mothers can be as childish as they like. There’s something about having a partner watching that keeps you in line. You may want to put a lampshade on your head and dance the hokey-pokey at a dinner party, but a warning look across the table will smartly curb the urge. Your sudden feeling to swap your customary pale cords and linen for orange flares and purple velveteen, will quickly fade in the face of your partner’s flared nostrils. Children are, however, eccentric. They love swimming straight after they’ve eaten; they love running inexplicably around the garden, shouting war cries; they love dressing up and putting on musicals. And they’re really appreciative of anyone who joins in. Single mothers can release their child within – without paying thousands to a therapist. Single mothers can make decisions alone “Can I come home at midnight?” asks the 15-year-old. “No,” says the father. “When I was your age, I had to be home by 8.” “But darling,” says the mother, “when I was 15, I was going
on holidays with my friends alone. I was…” “I have spoken,” thunders the father, and the subject is closed. Sure, single mothers don’t have the “go ask your father” option (as in when your child asks, “Mom, what’s oral sex?”), but decision-making is a simple process: what Mom
says, goes. Although, of course, it’s ideal to reach consensus through discussion, being a single parent does mean you can say, “Because I’m your mother and I said so.” It’s heady stuff. Meal times aren’t set in stone Family therapists tell us that quality time is important, and that, in these days of TV addiction, eating a meal together around a table is paramount. I find it much more fun to watch a video in bed with my kids at 6pm as we stuff ourselves with popcorn, and much more intimate. We can always throw together some pasta later. We’ve breakfasted on Smarties at 5.30am, lunched on chips and Coke at 11am and then, starved for “real” food, gone out to a nearby farm to pick cherries until we all got sick. Now, that’s what I call togetherness.
Single mom’s friends are interesting. Because they’re distrusted by wives and lusted after by husbands, single moms are usually pariahs. So they make up their own circle of friends. I’m proud to say that the adults who influence my children in wonderful ways include a gay artist,
a deeply thoughtful author, a genius plumber, an autistic masseur, a lapsed (but not for sexual reasons) priest, an alternative healer and a terrifyingly energetic photographer. None is married, and every last one of them is wildly interesting. Vive la difference! By Tracey Hawthorne

Still A Taboo Subject?

My son has ADHD. I am fine with it, Damien is fine with it, he takes his Ritalin every day including weekends and we have both seen some incredible changes in our relationship as well as in his school performance. He is now bringing home certificates for his research and artistic capabilities; he gets silver awards for the speech festival (which he loathes); he has qualified for his gymnastics provincial colours three years running (this year he even qualified for the national competition); he gets merits for his class work; he does his homework; he completes and hands in projects on time and I no longer dread school parents evenings! Granted, putting Damien in a private school with nice small classes has made a world of difference too, but even BEFORE we changed schools we started seeing a difference. Yet I am still hesitant to mention it to anyone. The one time I decided to broach the subject openly in conversation, I was questioned ruthlessly as to whether he ACTUALLY had ADHD or if his teachers and I just couldn’t cope with him. I was totally gobsmacked to say the least! That ANYONE could look me in the eye and ask me if I had a reason for medicating my son. I should have said “I did it for fun” just to see how she reacted. That I am a single parent has nothing to do with my decision or with Damien having ADHD. I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone that we tried everything and anything else first. The (non-existent) ADHD diet, very specific multi-vitamins that are supposed to help, countless psychiatrists, psychologists, OTs, speech therapists, GPs and specialists were consulted. We even had his hearing tested! That Damien was poked, prodded, ECG’d, tested, examined and analysed until he wanted to have a fit if I mentioned seeing a doctor. He started developing a complex about himself- the fact that he had to see so many doctors when he wasn’t feeling sick started making him think there was something wrong with him. Then we discovered the doctor we have been seeing for the last three years. He prescribed Ritalin, and one of the huge differences between him and the other doctors we’ve seen, is that he actually monitors the dose and Damien’s performance using input from me and from his teachers. One of the aspects I battled the most with, was convincing family and friends that he couldn’t always help his behaviour. That the connections between action and consequence didn’t exist for him most of the time. I mean, bad behaviour is bad behaviour right? Wrong. In Damien’s case (and many children like him) he just doesn’t think because he can’t, he doesn’t know how. Plain and simple. He tricky part of course is where to draw the line between what he can’t help and when he’s misbehaving. I have to keep reminding MYSELF, several times a day; that he doesn’t think before he acts or speaks, that I must look him in the eye when I give him an instruction (and even make him repeat it). Make no mistake- our life is far from being a picnic- but having a decent doctor and the correct, monitored dose of medication means that we can actually have a conversation now. That he can visit friends and go to birthday parties alone without me panicking about him driving the other child’s parents insane! That I can leave him to read books while I browse elsewhere in the shop without me worrying that he’s going to be climbing the shelves or opening all the packaging. The level of trust in our relationship has gone up a thousand-fold! Obviously there are lots of things we still argue about- like keeping his room tidy, that he shouldn’t be borrowing or exchanging toys with friends, remembering to pick up after him self and wash out the bath when he’s finished- but these are the same things other parents have to argue with their children about. Every disorder or illness must be treated when it can be. No-one gives you grief for prescribing anti-depressants or chemotherapy when it’s necessary* so my point remains this: Why do I have to justify putting my son on medication to treat his disorder?