Things I’m loving this week
Boscovs. Kelly and I walked into the newest Erie department store on Saturday night and were immediately overwhelmed. It was hard to know what to look at first or where to start or where the junior section was, but we found our way around pretty quickly. I think I picked up something from every department we walked though, except the candy counter and shoes because we somehow missed the shoe area.
The Help. I read this book a couple of years ago, but recently reread it when it was my book clubs’ selection for October. I forgot how funny the dialog is and well-developed the characters are. If a writer can make you both hate and love a character (see both sides)…that’s excellent character development.
The weather. It was maybe a wee bit cold on Monday, but these 60+ degree days are much more pleasant and fall-like temps.
Things I’m not loving this week
The number of friends who are #metoo. It shouldn’t shock me, but it does — the sheer number of women who can say #metoo to having been sexually harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against. Truth: I bet here’s not a woman alive today who can’t claim that hashtag.
45…as always. I could fill the rest of this post/all of the available space on the world wide web with all the stupid things that came out of our Psycopaht-in-Chief’s mouth/administration/twitter feed just this week, but…I don’t even want to dwell on any of it one moment longer. God let this global nightmare end.
Washington Post: Why Parents Who Pay Their Kids for Chores are Getting it Wrong (This has always been so hard for me. I give them allowance, but am known to take it if I feel they’re not being helpful around the house/doing their chores…so, in a way, I’m tying it to work. But, then I think…well, that’s how it works in the real world, right? It’s a confusing subject for me.)
Reader’s Digest: No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas (Some cute ideas here for the knive-averse)
Popsugar: How many Jumping Jacks You Need to Burn off the Halloween Candy (You may or may not want to see this chart.)
NPR: Sleep Scientists Warn Against Walking Through Life in an “Underslept State” (Interesting info here. I’ve been making a conscious effort to get at least 7 hours — shooting for 8 — every night, which means, yeah, I’m out by 9 p.m. , but…whatever. It does make a world of difference).
I wrote this story for the Erie Times-News. It originally appeared in Sunday, Oct. 1 Her Times section in the Erie Times-News. In the interest of reaching even more parents of kids with ADHD, I’m reposting here.
My daughter Lauren walked at 8 months. She potty-trained herself before she was 2 and rode a two-wheel bike before she went to Kindergarten. In fourth grade, she had the vocabulary of a college-age student and the grades of a high school dropout.
She would do her homework after hours of tearful fighting with us, then not turn it in. She frequently lost her stuff or couldn’t find it. She would spend her study hall writing a new language and fail her spelling test.
I just didn’t understand it, so I requested the school do an intelligence evaluation. This is a formal process in public schools that involves the school psychologist doing interviews with teachers and the child, as well as intelligence testing.
Ninety days later, I learned that, indeed, Lauren had a high IQ, but she also exhibited many of the classic signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I felt everything from relief to vindication to guilt and anxiety.
Two years later, I still feel vindicated, but I shed the guilt and anxiety long ago. I’ve come to believe that ADHD is not a disorder as much as it is a difference. It’s one that doesn’t fit well into our school system where children are expected to learn the same way, but there are ways to cope with that. Here are some things I’ve learned in the past year as Lauren transitioned from middle school to high school.
Give them some slack. When parenting a child with ADHD, it’s tempting to micromanage their lives, to constantly remind them of things, continually check their grades, email their teachers for updates, but by the time they are entering high school, it’s time to back off a bit so that he or she can learn to manage their own lives. If you are always there doing everything for them, you’re not helping, you’re handicapping.
Talk with teachers at the beginning of the year. I tell all of Lauren’s teachers at the beginning of the year that she is both smart and easily distracted and may require a seat up front and reminders to hand in (or do) her work.
Don’t overload them. Lauren has the IQ to be in all honors classes, but she lacks the discipline, organization, and patience for the additional homework, assignments, and projects that honors classes require. We settled for putting her in two honors classes in subjects she enjoys.
They live in a permanent present. Living in the moment and being in the now is all the rage for stressed out adults, but it is the perpetual state of being for those with ADHD. Lauren doesn’t think too much about the future, and she has trouble learning from past experience. It also means she struggles with transitions and never wants to stop whatever she is currently doing to do something else, even if it’s fun. Fair warnings (“We’re leaving in 1 hour”) and timers help.
Let them do it their way. Lauren doesn’t always do things the way that I would or the way I want them done. This means her closet is a mess, her backpack is overflowing with papers, and her self-packed lunches consist of a granola bar and applesauce. I’ve learned not to impose my system on her because her brain works differently than mine.
Know they may need help getting started. Those with ADHD are not good at ordination—planning and doing parts of a task in order—and may need help getting started or putting the steps in order, especially with big projects that span days, weeks, or months.
Don’t let them procrastinate. With Lauren, everything happens right now or not at all. She does not have a reliable sense of time, so later never arrives. This is one of our toughest challenges because, remember, those with ADHD don’t plan or transition to new tasks well. Not getting things done because she’s putting them off is the source of most of our arguments and the essence of ADHD.
Sports help channel energy. Lauren joined the Eastside YMCA swim team two years ago and it’s been a tremendous positive in her life. Kids with ADHD are probably better in a sport that is not team-focused such as diving, swimming, cross-country, track, or gymnastics.
Toddler rules apply. Everyone knows that toddlers are at their worst when they are tired or hungry. It’s the same for those with ADHD.
Take electronics at night, by any means necessary. This has become harder as Lauren gets older and acquires more electronic devices that she can hide from me and play until 2 a.m. But I recently won this war thanks to a smartphone app called TP Link Tether that allows me to control wifi access on every individual device in my home. At 9:30 p.m., I just deny access to all of her devices. No wifi = no Netflix or YouTube and adequate sleep for my girl.
Silence is golden. The slightest sound, such as the ticking of a clock, the clicking of computer keys, or the dog snoring down the hall, prevents those with ADHD from falling asleep. Their brains are constantly interrupted and aware of things that most of us don’t notice or easily tune out.
Mark everything they own. Lauren once lost a $30 winter hat in less than twenty-four hours. I haven’t seen her lunchbag or her winter coat in two years. I’ve learned to write her name on everything. It doesn’t prevent her from losing it, but it helps with recovery.
Set reminders as alarms in his or her cell phone. You can set as many alarms as you want in a cell phone and you can name them things like, “do your Spanish homework!” or “feed the cats.”
Hormones can wreak havoc. Take an already impulsive teenager with ADHD and add normal hormone fluctuations and you’ve got a recipe for major drama. Try not to let him or her drag you into it. Stay calm and don’t take it personally. Acting and speaking without thinking is the definition of impulsivity, a hallmark of those with ADHD.
Give them daily positive human contact. Kids with ADHD sometimes go through an entire day or week without an encouraging word. Because they are so disorganized and impulsive, they’re often corrected by teachers and ignored by classmates who find them annoying. A hug, a recognition of effort, or a little time to sit and listen to them goes a long way. See the good.
Take the long view. If there is one thing I have always known about Lauren, it’s that she will be successful at whatever it is she ultimately puts her mind to. The silver lining in ADHD is the ability to hyperfocus. When she’s in the zone, there’s no stopping her. She’s smart and capable and she will be successful at life, even if she gets a D in English and squeaks through Algebra with a low C.
She’s a thinker….get it?
Got a child with ADHD:
- Check out additudemag.com for lots of great articles and information about ADHD. Sign up for the e-news – it’s free!
- Start a parent’s support group. While no two kids with ADHD are alike, parents can learn a lot from each others’ experiences. (Invite me!)
- Your child is in good company. Visit http://psychcentral.com/lib.famous-people-with-adhd/ for an impressive list of accomplished people with ADHD
- Watch Dr. Edward Hallowell’s YouTube video in which he explains how ADHD is like having a “Ferrrari brain with bicycle brakes.” It explains ADHD perfectly.
The medication question
Every parent and child needs to make this decision for themselves. I was adamantly opposed to it at first. Then, I talked to some other parents who were candid with me about their experiences, and I changed my mind. Here’s why: I thought what if I’m denying my child access to something that can help her be successful because of my personal or moral convictions? Would I deny her insulin if she were diabetic?
If you do decide to try medication, you’ll need an official diagnosis before your doctor can prescribe anything. It’s common for most to try several different medications and dosages before finding one that works well for them. ADHD medication can be quite expensive, even with insurance.
Things I’m loving this week:
Ellen Burstyn. She was an actress popular before my time, but this podcast made me a huge fan. When you listen to the things she experienced in her life, you get a real appreciation for how far women have come in the last 50 years….and how terrifying it is that it all seems to be slipping through our fingers again (thanks to the GOP’s unending war on women).
Eminem. Yeah, I know…I should be deeply offended by him on about 15,234 levels, but…then he goes & does something like this & I’m like….he means well and I can’t really dis’ a fellow 45 hater.
Homecoming. Formal dances are kind of a hassle, but…my girls are mostly low-maintenance. I spent less than $100 on both dresses and shoes, so….I can’t complain. And, I love, love, love, love seeing all the homecoming photos on Facebook. (As opposed to all the bloody deer photos that are sure to be showing up now. Ick…I “hide” all of them.)
Things I’m not loving this week
Another tumultuous week in Trumplandia. Where should I start…there’s this crap and this crap and this crap and this crap. I could go on, but….it’s just too depressing to look it all up. It’s just every. single. day. with this f*%^ing moron.
Disability in the U.S. The Washington Post did a four-part series on disability that was eye opening. I had no idea that “…the federal government this year will spend an estimated $192 billion on disability payments, more than the combined total for food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies and unemployment assistance.” The four-part series (see links to each article on right) was enlightening, depressing, and alarming.
The Boy Scouts are now…the Boy/Girl Scouts. This is just stupid and, pretty clearly just a way for the Boy Scouts to prop up a failing membership. And, they’re not even changing their name, so….do you really think they’re going to tailor their programs to creating strong women leaders? No, once again, women will be “permitted to join” a men’s organization. It’s dumb and it’s going to hurt the Girl Scouts who actually DO care about building strong women and create programming specifically for them. Not sure who wanted this….cause I’m pretty sure none of the boys or girls in scouts (or their parents) did.
A random collection of articles, blog posts, books, and other things I think are worth sharing.
Parent.co: What it Really Means to Love Like a Mother
Medium: Thoughts on The Vegas Shooting (or Why Men Keep Doing This) (This is a non-political, thought-provoking post)
“Even though we’re in the safest period in the history of civilization, these shootings will keep happening in America. They happen every single day. Guns are a part of the problem, and so is the media. But there is a bigger problem. We are a culture that continually neglects the mental health of our boys, and our men.”
The New York Times: The Flagrant Sexual Hypocrisy of Conservative Men
“The double standards employed by some members of the “do as I say, not as I do” Christian right are nothing new. Show me a senator who votes against gay marriage, and, at least in one infamous case, I’ll show you a guy who’s soliciting same-sex encounters in the airport men’s room. (Hello there, Larry Craig!)
Show me another Republican senator who made his name as a “pro-family advocate” and I’ll show you a guy whose phone number showed up in a Washington madam’s little black book. (Howdy, David Vitter!)
Show me the far-right speaker of the House, a man with perfect scores from the National Right to Life Committee and the Christian Coalition, and I’ll show you a guy who, as a high-school wrestling coach, set up a chair in front of the boys’ shower the better to ogle his protégés, and who was eventually jailed as a serial child molester. (Dennis Hastert, come on down!)”
I’m a writer. I make a living using my words. I know a lot of words and how to string them together and combine ideas to present concepts or “paint” pictures, but I have never found the words to explain the overwhelming business of being a woman, particularly a working mother.
If my husband could spend just one day in my head, he might understand why I am continually frazzled, irritated, distracted, and literally incapable of tolerating any story that goes on longer than 45 seconds.
Case in point: This morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. to cats yowling and hissing at each other on my front porch because, of course, the cat was out all night (I gave up trying to keep the cats indoors …let alone indoors at night, long ago…if they meet their maker due to all-night carousing, well, I’m sure they’ll die happy having lived free. Yeah, that’s how I rationalize it).
But I digress….
You see, I digress a lot because my mind is continually doing three or more things. I never just write a blog post. For example, just now, in the middle of writing that last sentence, I remembered that I needed to write my daughter’s next dermatology appointment on the calendar at home, so I just jotted that down in my bullet journal.
Wait…where was I?
Oh…right 4 a.m. this morning, the damn cats wake me up, so I stumble to the living room to flip on the porch light and offer an open door to the stupid cat who, of course, runs away from me. Fine. Whatever….get your ass kicked. I go back to bed, but now my brain is up.
I worry about my daughter having friends. I remember I didn’t get my mother anything for her birthday yet and ponder what to do about that. I wonder if Lauren’s swim suit ever got hung up or if it’s molding in a towel on her carpeted floor. I remind myself to remember to sign her up for the home meets, which I now have to do in person at the Y (IN PERSON, for the love of God…). I wonder if I can get a haircut on Thursday — squeeze it in between everything else and whether i should spend the money to get my hair highlighted. Then I worry about money because there is never enough…
And this goes on and on despite the fact that I’m telling my brain to STFU because I only have 30 minutes until I need to get up to meet Betsy for our morning 4.5 miler.
When the alarm finally rings, I’m almost relieved I can just get up and stop lying there worrying and thinking.
Yeah…that’s right…running with a friend at 5 a.m. at a challenging pace on a course that ends with a huge uphill is one of the best parts of my day, which won’t end till like 10 p.m. tonight (unless I sit down or stop moving at any point after 8:30 p.m. at which case, it’s all over….and I’m out.)
And…there I go, getting off track again. Story of my life.
Here’s another one, perfectly illustrated by an artist who put into pictures what I could never put into prose. It should be required reading for all husbands…though I really think they should’ve just called it then Men’s Guide to Women.