Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Parenting Conundrum.

To medicate, or not to medicate: that is the question many parents of children with issues that present as ADHD face. You have society screaming at you that ADHD is overdiagnosed, and you'll medicate your child into zombie-hood. Your support systems are leery at best, as they primarily hear the same things society is screaming. You and your spouse are wound tighter than clock springs waiting for the time your child either realizes they are seen as "lesser" or "undesirable" by other children, or the time they dash off into the street after a ball and never come home again. Your child... Sometimes you know what they think, sometimes you don't. In rare moments of lucidity, Mad Natter would say "I like being sick, mama..." while he was fevered and lethargic, continuing on to say, "my brain slows down so I can think..."

It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks, all that matters is what's best for your child. We hear that over and over again, don't we? Repeated ad nauseum from the moment you get pregnant until... well, probably the day you die. You do what's best for your child.  Absolutely - unless what you think is best for your child runs counter to what they think is best for your child. If you choose counter to them, you are doing harm to your child! You're hurting them, and they need to be saved from you! You, obviously, are uneducated on the ramifications of your horrible decision, and it is up to them to educate you.

As homeschoolers, we see that mentality often, typically from outsiders who either have no interest in learning why we do what we do, or from those who feel that our choices with respect to our children are somehow a reflection on their choices with their children. As a cosleeping, combination-feeding, baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding mother, I'm pretty used to this. I've fought this battle several times over, most notably when Mad Natter and I were having troubles nursing. Both sides were screaming at me, if I didn't give him formula, I'd be hurting him. If I gave him formula, I'd be hurting him. It took some time for us to make our decision (hours here, not weeks or anything), but in the end we went with what would be best for our baby, our family - we gave him both milks. You'd think making a decision would stop the madness, but it really doesn't. That's when you start feeling the people watching your every move, and you actually see the judgmental looks that you didn't notice before.

The same has been the case as Mad Natter got older. I would watch with large amounts of envy as parents would walk through stores with their children and not have to keep them in carts. I'd see them walk through parking lots, and not ever wonder if their child was following them. I'd see them moving calmly through aisles, not once thinking there was a chance their kid would knock over the endcap of glass Ragu jars if they didn't hold onto a hand (or is it a paw, claw, or hoof today?) the entire time they were within eyeshot of the display. Parents who could call their children with a simple, "Okay, guys, let's go!" and the littles would line up like ducklings behind them, and off they'd go. Everywhere I went, there were families of wonderfully behaved little ones. Parents who didn't ever look as though they had to restrain their five year old so he didn't pull down an entire display of apples at the store, or their four year olds so they didn't pull all the cookies off the shelves, one package-type per fell swoop, or their six year olds, so they didn't take off at top speed into a grocery store two states and a separate country from home.  How did they manage this?

Some of it, sure, is part and parcel of having children who are incredibly curious, excited, and interested in their world. But other parts - like last month's trip to the store where Mad Natter blithely walked out into a parking lot without even looking, even at six - are more worrisome. After spending hours upon hours in research, reading everything I could find on the topic, and trying as hard as I could to get someone to listen to us... We found someone who would. Our GP watched as Mad Natter's switch flipped, and told us it was "really kind of obvious, isn't it?" She sent us quickly to a pediatrician, who also happened to see the switch flip (it's remarkable how in other offices, the visits were timed to end almost precisely three minutes before that switch flipped, so it wouldn't go until we were in the parking lot), and took a couple notes - including Skeeve's own ADD diagnosis - and sent us off with a plan. When we met with him, sans Mad Natter, a week later, it was decision time again. Do we medicate? Do we not? Psychotropic medications are nothing to shake a stick at, so where do we even start? In the end, it boiled down to one thing.  A sick little boy - wrapped in blankets on the couch, watching a movie while he hugged Daniel Stripe-ed Tiger - who looked at me with wide eyes and said, "I like being sick, mama. It slows my brain down so I can think."

We're probably very not through getting blowback for deciding to medicate our son. But at this point, we've come to realize we need to do what's best for him. Not what others think is best for him, but what is truly best for him. And anyone who doesn't like that? Honestly, they can just go hang. We do what we need to do to make sure that Mad Natter is happy and healthy, and that he can think all the time, not just when he's sick and tired. We're not likely to ever be that duckling family. But I have hope now, hope I haven't had in a good long while, that we'll soon be able to leave the house a little more stress-free.