the tension!

Its the knucklehead’s biggest ever gymnastics competition tomorrow- the national gymnastics games for pre-level to level 3 and last year he JUST missed qualifying for nationals.
I am trying very hard to be calm for his sake, but I’m nervous as hell. I am doing everything in my power not to think about Saturday because when I do its instant butterflies!
But it IS a national competition!
I CANNOT imagine how he must be feeling, he seems remarkably calm to most people, but I know him well enough to be able to tell the difference between his nervous silence & just plain calm…
But it IS a national competition!
The competition is huge logistically too, over 1000 gymnasts competing in just 2 days. I must say to the organisers credit, they do remarkably well keeping everything on time and on track.
I pray for the knucklehead’s sake that he’ll do well, maybe even bring home a medal. But I don’t want to say anything because his disappointment when he doesn’t get one is palpable! At the same time – I don’t want him to think that I’m not supporting him when I don’t say anything about medals…
But it’s a national competition!

Okay, So My Jaw Was On The Floor!

Sunday’s total F1 farce by far overshadows the Michael Schumacher debacle of a few years ago- in Austria I think it was- where Rubens Barrichello had to move over for Schumacher at the last moment and made it so glaringly obvious what he was doing.
It will also live for a very long time in the memories of F1 fans and critics alike.
And I’ll wager the whole debacle will be partly blamed on Ferrari anyway- because the demand for a chicane on turn 13 made by the Michelin shod teams was neither opposed nor supported by Ferrari. “They” will say again that the FIA panders to Ferrari and to Michael Schumacher. This is of course the anti-F1 contingent’s favourite argument!
Granted, seven of the ten teams boycotting the race gave Ferrari the ideal opportunity to catch up a little in this season’s point standings. But that’s not the kind of racing I like to see. This season has been hugely disappointing for us Ferrari fans but it has been an exceptionally exciting season none the less.
I feel that the Indianapolis “hiccup” could have and should have been handled differently by all involved. Indianapolis was re-surfaced. Michelin knew this so maybe they should have done more testing to ensure they had the right tyres for the day. Maybe the FIA should have made a
plan to put in a chicane on turn 13, given the accidents during qualifying- especially since they had the time to do so. Or maybe the cars should even have raced- slower than usual and for no points since I think that would have been just as damaging for the teams. Too many “maybes”…
My bottom line is this- safety first- i think I would rather remember this race for the farce that it was than for a driver having been killed on the day.

Daddy’s Day

I love my dad. My dad knows I love and respect him, I just don’t think he knows how much. He worries about us and he loves us and when he can he helps us out but he never panders to us. He’s there to hold us tight when our hearts have been broken, and he’s there to congratulate us when we do well. He’ll drive to the ends of the earth at any time of day or night if one of us gets stuck somewhere. He’s not big on chatty conversations, but when he does talk, it’s really worth listening. If it wasn’t for my folks- I would probably have chickened out of a lot of things. A major part of my life is striving to make my parents proud- to show them that I actually was listening- most of the time at least.
And then there’s the other part of my annual father’s day.
There are often times when I wish I could see into Damien’s head. I’m sure every mom on the planet has wished she could read her child’s thoughts (when they’re not clearly visible in their eyes), but one of the few days that I would give almost anything for that ability is on Father’s Day.
I took a friends little boy to church with me on Sunday (let’s call him ‘T’). As we were sitting there, watching the other Sunday school children sing a song and then give little packets of Jelly Tots with messages on to all the dads in the congregation, it struck me that the little boys sitting on either side of me are both dad-less. T’s father pays maintenance and he sees him occasionally but its T’s paternal grandmother who makes a point of trying to see him when she can. Damien has never met his father, and though he asks the odd question once in a blue moon (like “does my father like animals?” and “do I look like my father?”) he has never actually asked to see him. I also try my utmost to be honest when Damien does ask a question. I always keep in mind that he may one day want to find this man and I don’t want him to remember all sorts of mean things I said when and if he does, I want Damien to make up his own mind. I would love to know what Damien is thinking on this particular day of the year, more to put my own mind at rest that he’s okay than for any other reason.
I must also confess, it’s the one day that I really wonder what Damien’s father is thinking and feeling. Knowing he has a son who he’s never met or seen. We agreed when we split up not to see each other or have any contact (see previous blogs for more details) and I am extremely grateful to him for leaving us alone. But I do wonder if he wonders, if his family wonders, if he’s thought about what he will say if Damien ever tracks him down. If he has any other children* silly and morose I know, but I can’t help it, especially given my relationship with my father.
Damien is truly blessed that he has such a big close knit family that loves him as much as they do, we would both be lost without them.
Oh, and I have also come to the conclusion that the mothers of children who are born out of wedlock (i.e. illegitimate) are “punished” for their indiscretions by having children who look unmistakably like their fathers- to remind us everyday that we’re never entirely off the hook!

If a cat has decided to love you, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Katrina Smythe.

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?

Let Me Count The Ways…

How can I put into words the feelings and emotions I experienced this weekend?
My baby boy has qualified for the team that is going to represent our province in a national gymnastics competition! Every time I think about it I want to giggle and cry and scream all at once! It’s really hard to put it into words.
This would have been a pipe dream three years ago. After he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was five, we spent several years bouncing around between psychiatrists, psychologists, specialists, GPs, treatments and support groups trying to find something that worked. I read every book, visited every website, joined up for every free newsletter I could lay my hands on.
Then, three years ago, I found a doctor on the internet who specialized in treating ADHD and who lived in our country (yes I was a little surprised).
Since we started seeing him on a monthly basis and getting proper treatment our loves have completely turned around. We don’t fight with each other like we used to. He is actually doing school work and homework after a few years of literally empty books.