Sunday, October 31, 2010

Right Those Wrongs, Son!

Restitution - big word but simple meaning. Pay your debt. Make it right. Part of the discipline we use in our crazy household. If you download on someone else's phone or computer, pay back that download fee. Mom or Dad help him figure out what he can do for work to earn the money and then give it back. A carefully written letter accompanies that money.

Our son always asks why kids who take things from him or do something mean to him don't have to write a letter to HIM, but this past finally happened. He brought home a full-page letter of apology from a child who hurt him that day. Restitution in reverse!

This process sure looks ideal on paper but what a huge nightmare at the end of an exhausting day when we're trying to push through the home chores & dinner. Parenting isn't easy. In fact, it's horribly draining. My hope is that if I stick with this and hang in there, someday I'm going to be glad I did. Hope so! I think it's about time for bed. I'm going to need my energy...tomorrow!

You're Exceptional! (Self-Esteem Building)

Quite challenging is the job of building self-esteem in a child I'm constantly correcting and redirecting! How do I convey the essential message that my son is precious and valuable to me? I have to remind myself there are LOTS of ways to let him know I value him. Because he gets into more trouble than not it seems, I have to squeeze in those positive affirmations as often as possible every day. "You're amazing!" and "You know That? - Wow, Bud, you're so smart!"  He's always been fairly cuddly on his terms so I made a conscious decision when he was younger, to give him pats, high-fives, hugs & kisses (those may fade soon as we approach the teen years) whenever he was near me. Kids whose self-esteem bottoms-out, turn to drugs & other illicit behavior for companionship & validation. I love this boy with all my heart and the idea of us heading down that path worries me.  Whatever I can do on a DAILY basis, to let him know he is unconditionally loved and valued, I try to do.

His special interests change rapidly & don't hold his attention long but when he shows interest in something, we "jump on it." Wanna cook? Let's go! Puzzles? I'll do one WITH you. You like "Calvin & Hobbes?" We check out 2 from the library! Favorite game? T.V.'s off - I'm here to play it. High energy kids need equally high-energy parents. These kids take more time than most but I'm really praying and hoping the time I give him pays off one day! Maybe it's paying off even now!

ADHD Resources

The following book list is recommended by Dr. Douglas Marlow, Ph.D, a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Oregon (and the doctor who helped the most last winter, when I felt I was at the bottom of my resources & strength.)

* The ADHD Parenting Handbook,  by Colleen Alexander-Roberts
* Healing ADD,  by Thom Hartman
* The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD,  by John F. Taylor
* Driven to Distraction, (more for adults) by Ed Hallowell
* Taking Charge of ADHD, by Russel Barkly

More Great Books:

"ADHD And Me: What I Learned From Lighting Fires At The Dinner Table," by Blake Taylor, New Harbinger Publishers, 2008. (This author is currently in college & writes from a "kid's perspective - I'll update when I finish. Looks to be excellent!)

"Project June Bug," by Jackie Minniti, iUniverse Inc., 2008 (I have just ordered this after reading RAVE reviews online. --I'll update after reading!)

"Cory Stories," by Jeanne Kraus, 2005 Magination Press
This fun paperback book is especially written for kids with tips for parents included. The author has 20 years experience in the classroom and this book was inspired by one of her sons.

I hope if someone has another exceptional ADHD resource to recommend, they'll mention it here. Thank you.

"Mom, I Didn't Get Invited"

Boy, this one's tough for me. The pain goes deep in my heart. Many times he's come home without an invitation.  How do I explain to my son that not every parent or home is equipped to deal with the tornado that he is? That kids don't want someone at their party who will open their gifts ahead of them. Or a child who will destroy their toys? Yes, I've sat him down a few times and explained that parties take a lot of energy and parents don't want to have a visitor tearing through their home and things. It's only fair that he knows the truth as he gets older. We discuss what kind of behavior he should have when he does get invited. But mostly, I tell him parties cost a lot of money & nowadays parents usually just allow a couple kids to the party. (That was hard for him to understand the times he thought all the other cubbies had invitations.)  Usually parenting an ADHD child is frustrating and just plain exhausting. At times like this's particularly sad.

Can't You THINK First? (Sorry, this one's longer than normal!)

The majority of us have problems at one time or another, thinking before we speak or act. Slowing down enough to process the results of what we say and do would help us avoid oh so many messes.  ADHD kids deal with this minute-by-minute but they're clueless they're "dealing" with it because they generally do not think it through and process results. Hense the term "impulsive" is one of the top symptoms of ADHD.

I'm in the middle of a pretty deep study on the disorder. Get this. Apparently,  true ADHD children are not just acting out of control because they're really bad kids with inattentive parents. And, apparently not every child who is active is a true ADHD child. What is true however, is that ADHD is a neurological disorder. Their brains look different then those of children who toe-the-line & listen when spoken to. WOW!!

I've learned some fascinating stuff ~ kids can have different levels of neurotransmitters, depending on which kind of ADHD they have (more inattention or more impulsivity), which change their behavior. In particular, ADHD people have a variation on the transporter genes for the neurotransmitters. Yikes, big words that basically tell me their brain is wired differently.  So, if I think that I'm going to change his behavior by just telling him to do something. I'm stupid. Do I quit guiding him with rules, quit following through with consequences & give up on a day-to-day routine? Not on my life! I'm no doctor but from what I've been reading and told by my Psychologist, Dr. Marlow, it seems that I need to carry on with those to develop some new "grooves" in his brain. Wow! The brain is an amazing thing. Meds....hmm, lots of debate out there. Most kids are active. Kids who are just active but don't have the official ADHD label, don't need ADHD meds. Too many kids are labeled ADHD and on meds. These are facts.  However, if I had kidney or heart disease, would I see a doctor for the proper medicines?

I understand that medication is not the "cure-all" for ADHD.  Parents of ADHD kids have a hard battle to fight. We need to roll up our sleeves and get busy. What I know (but don't always do) is that I should be tough without being MEAN. I can be consistent without belittling him (ie "What kind of stupid thing did you do?") I can have strong guidelines but add in lots of fun stuff for high-energy boys! And.....last but not least, I can remember that as his mom I am the one person who can love him for the exceptional kid he is. I can build his self-esteem & hope that my parenting mistakes will be forgotten with tons of positive replacements!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Entrepreneurs - Tough To Raise?

I've been reading about entrepreneurs & celebrities who admit to having ADHD.  Actor Jim Carrey  soared to the top of my suspicions long ago  & Ty Pennington of "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" in  more recent years, just proved to me that energy, if channeled correctly, could go far to bless others. I remind myself that they are successful because of that out-of-control energy level & out-of-the-box thinking that are synonymous with ADHD.  Were these celebrities & entrepreneurs tough to raise? I don't know but I'm guessing their mothers' blogs would have looked something like mine or just maybe crazier!

The following excerpt is from Psychology Today, "7 Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs with ADHD," written by  Shane K. Perrault, PhD who is the Coach and Psychologist at Entrepreneurs with ADHD:

"Believe it or Not, people with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business (see The Davinci Method, by Garret Loporto), and many business leaders have ADHD. To name a few accomplished business people with ADHD:
  • Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines.
  • John T. Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems.
  • Ingvar Kamprad, Swedish founder and chairman of IKEA stores
  • David Neeleman, founder and CEO of Jet Blue Airways.
  • Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinkos.
  • Charles Schwab, the founder, chairperson, and CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation, the largest brokerage firm in the U.S."
I've decided this is exciting - It's tough raising my future CEO but I'm really getting excited about what's ahead!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Goals!

Ecstatic!! That's exactly how I felt last evening when my son scored not one, but TWO of his first soccer goals. It was the second to the last game of the season & after 3 years of soccer, he finally scored! As he dashed out of the car, heading for the warm-up session I whispered quickly, "Hey Buddy, let's try for a goal."  "No, Mom. I don't think so," was his quick reply. This season he was scared to try because he was embarrassed if he missed. But tonight was different. Somehow, in the last 15 minutes, he decided to go for it and rushed toward the ball as it neared the center of the goal. With a swift kick the goal was HIS! That's all it took. He was bitten by the taste of victory and he stuck to that ball till the end of the game. In the last few minutes he attempted several goals before landing his 2nd goal of the game. The whistle blew. This game was over. Now he would be known for more than just lightning-speed running across the field ~ he would be known for scoring points for his team. The smile on his face lasted well into the night. His first real lesson on persistence will stay with him forever!

From that first year of soccer when those 7 year olds ran circles around the ball on the field, often swarming like bees toward the wrong goal, every game has been a thrill. Seeing the progress that practice & persistence affords has been just as much the joy of the journey as these two goals tonight. "Lord, help me to look at every step with my son as progress, no matter how difficult at times, this journey may be."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Sweet, His First "Prank"

Who laughs at these things? Only every person I've told them to!  I needed to get to work early one morning this week. Early is a huge stretch since "on time" is nearly impossible.  Set the alarm a tad earlier just to be sure. Everything was in order for a great start. That is, until I awoke to a brighter-than-normal bedroom the next morning! Interestingly, the clock cord was unplugged. My fears were confirmed when I saw the kitchen clock - 7:11 am!!  Mystery solved within 2 seconds. "SON?" His quick "I didn't do it," sealed my assumption to which I responded for the millionth time in his life...."WHY did you do this?" He hung his head and said he wanted to see what it was like to pull a prank."  I now had exactly 15 minutes to be showered & ready to go.  This was what he coined his "first prank" which really makes no sense because he's pulled pranks every day since he was 18 months-he just didn't have a WORD for it!   I guess I'll laugh now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

He Hates Scratchy Tags

Most of his life he's been troubled by textures. "No scratchy clothes!"  If I miss a tag and it hits his neck just right, he could go into orbit trying to remove it. Shirts better have a soft feel to them or he could short circuit. Nothing too tight around the waist (not too loose either). But the biggest issue of all has been with socks. I gave up years ago trying to find a brand he would wear right side out. All socks are scratchy on the inside and feel very soft on the outside. None of our first 3 children even knew this. I've searched the stores for expensive, cheap, name brand, store brand & came to this conclusion....all socks need to be worn inside out so their soft side rests against his sensitive skin.  Fortunately  friends have quit saying "your socks are inside out."  This isn't a battle worth fighting.  Fabric issues are common with ADHD kids. I'm wondering if he'll wear his socks inside out when he's an adult....guess I'll have to wait and see!

Fishing, Sushi & Roadtrips

Thank God for finding 3 things that hold the interest of my son! He can focus while engaged in any of these things:
  • Fishing - Taking apart his and Dad's gear, dumping bait & losing his tackle box are things of the past. Now my boy can fish for....get this, 6-8 hours straight. Baffles friends (and us). Needless to say, we take him fishing as often as we can.
  • Sushi - Stumbled upon this one quite by accident but he routinely gets out the rice cooker & seaweed and prepares to enjoy making his favorite snack! No time to slice these rolls. He eats them like hot dogs!
  • Roadtrips - Often ADHD kids are a disaster to seat belt into the car. With a gps, binoculars and books, our wild child turns into an extraordinary traveler. (More difficult to do when gas prices are high!)
Regrettably, we can't just fish & eat sushi but hey, I'm thankful for small diversions!

Cell Phones And Downloads

Ugh! The very thing that I've come to love the convenience of has become a nightmare in my son's hands! Wish I could say it's only happened once. The thing I'm learning about ADHD is that it's often paired with brilliance. Not always good. Once in church (yep, right up there in the front too) our son's father sat with him in a gospel quartet concert. I suppose Dad thought he was listening due to the fact that he was sitting still in the pew. Unfortunately Mr. Download himself eyed a lonely cell phone, begging to be used. This was shortly after these handy telephones became equipped with the deadly ability to "go online" and download games! $9.95 later our son was discovered. He made "restitution" with owner of the phone - oh, that was NOT his father's phone. Sure he learned his lesson by making restitution, we took our eyes off of him a few weeks later while friends visited. I realized he had disappeared and found him upstairs with a phone that wasn't any of ours. That one was $30. He had to work to earn the money & pay back this phone owner. Plus, he wrote a letter of apology. Between those two instances there was another small one - paid back as well. I love my friends but glad they're telling me they password protect downloading now, from their phones. (And the wise person in the back says, "they shouldn't have to...well, back in my day a good spanking cured all.) I wish the wise ones knew how different today is!

Supportive Friends & Family

Need to say no more, but I will! A huge thank you to the family members and special friends who look on with love. They know I have my hands full. They don't have to tell me! They know I am tired. Some days are longer than others.The phone rings and caller reports a misdeed of my boy. I thank them kindly (inwardly aching) and move on. Family & friends engage my son in conversation even when his eyes dart around, searching for something to get into. They listen to me laugh and listen when I cry. This road is hard. I'm the parent of an ADHD boy who is often out of control but I have family and friends who not only don't tell me when I'm making mistakes, they tell me I'm doing a good job. To those who have ever said to me, "Charlotte, you are a good mom." (You know who you are.) THANK YOU! I appreciate the encouragement.

Enduring Gradeschool

We think the gradeschool years (K-5) should be fun-filled, carefree years. Learning set in a fun atmosphere, mixed with some Art & Music....nothing gets better than this! Not for the ADHD child.
School involves:
  • Listening attentively
  • Being quite
  • Recalling information
  • Following directions
There's nothing here that comes easily (or at all) for the ADHD child and mine is no exception. What gets us through this phase? I do not know yet. I'm not "through" it and have to admit, not really enjoying it. We parents of ADHD kids are in this together. I try to back the teacher(s), and be in communication with them (that's easy - they have my number in speed dial). Each evening as needed,  we talk about that day's issues briefly & then try to create FUN evening that he can end his day with! I want my boy's last experiences of every day, to be happy experiences if possible. No matter what, I love him!

FEAR In Public

I have some fairly normal fears:
* Heights
* The dark
But nothing surpasses the fear I've had of venturing out into public with my "wild child." The saying "You can dress 'em up but not take 'em out" applies. For years I've struggled with the tantrums, running off and largest issue of all: his embarrassing public statements. "Mom, look at that man. He's so FAT!" "Why does she smell like that?" and "What's that on his face?" all within hearing distance of the person. Good son has learned to not say these things.  All's not yet perfect. He has no problem  arguing to the bitter end in front of cashiers & interrupting when someone we meet stops to chat. He's a smart kid. Waiting til I'm reading labels on packages, he bolts to another section of the store. Recently I was paged from Jewelry because he had used his money to buy something and was a few cents short on cash. (Yes, I knew he had run. I was looking for him at the time!)Too old to put in the cart any more and living in an age where leashes are no longer acceptable, I leave him at home while shopping or pay the consequences & the bill at the stores!

Lock And Key?

Determination is a "key" attribute in my son! If he needs or wants something, he will get it. Hence, we found ourselves installing a keyed lock on one storage room in our home & purchasing a small safe for such things we value & can't replace easily. Sadly, the "hunter" found the BB gun in the storage room, using that forbidden key. For about 1 hour he had the time of his young life with that BB gun...and the BB gun moved away shortly thereafter. Consequences: BB gun is gone. Then, he found the instructions to the safe. Hmm, really smart parents leave those lying around, huh? And what 10 year old reads the fine print (combination) on instructions? Our boy! So glad we can outwit this kid. Yikes! We're a little rough around the edges but we're learning.


Mom, the Sleuth.

Sometimes I throw up my hands. "I don't care. I don't want to know what he just got into. I'm tired!" Then "Detective Mom" rises up and the search is on. "Where is the new box of ice-cream bars?" I search the regular hot spots...bathroom drawers (all of them), bedroom closet, under his pillow. Nope. Nothing. Then I look in the bathroom garbage can. A smile crosses my face. It shouldn't. There are 12 wrappers and sticks in that garbage can but I breathe a sign of contentment. I'm not immediately concerned for my son's health. My son has put garbage WHERE IT GOES! Those wrappers are in the garbage can and I'm thrilled. This rarely happens. Then the other Mom kicks in. The "you're going to pay for this mom" rises up and seeks out culprit. He "only had one" but admits defeat when wrappers are produced by angry mother.  Restitution is critical with all kids, and with no exception....adhd ones! He will pay for the ice cream and has no dessert for several days. Because he would do this again I won't buy any more for a while! Mom learns lesson. Child probably doesn't.

Discipline That Works?

For an ADHD kiddo, is there any discipline that REALLY "works?"  Contemporary solutions such as time outs provide me with 5-20 minutes of knowing where my little guy is. That's about it. It goes like this: "Hey, sit in this chair and think about what you've done." He sits, clearly not even remembering what he did. He sits straight for 10 seconds and then the chair magically turns into a trapeze. Dangling & twisting in every position but "sitting still" he talks throughout the time out. When the timer "beeps" I'm thrilled to send him back to play, positive he has no intentions of changing the behavior that sent him there.  But, we do the time. We hope that somehow, the consistency will deepen a good groove in his brain and someday he'll remember the appropriate behavior on his own.

WHAT Were You Thinking? (My 1st Blog)

I recall the moment I began to realize that parenting this cute boy wasn't going to be easy. It was a busy afternoon in my home office. Our adorable & talkative, then three year old was playing on the floor nearby.  When I noticed the loud crashing sounds of toy cars had stopped, it was too late... I bolted through the house calling his name. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen the drops of red and blue food coloring were dotting my newly-installed, white linoleum. He was standing on the kitchen counter, eyeing his nearly empty bottles. "Isn't this cool, Mommy?" he questioned, his eyes not leaving his masterpiece. In that first moment I recall KNOWING this was just the "beginning." I gasped in horro,r but that was long ago and so many crazy experiences have sinced topped that first one! Many family and friends have encouraged me to put these "funny" (to them!) stories into a book.  Then the idea of blogging came to me. This is my beginning. I'm hoping that writing helps me cope with the rapid rocket, often destructive tornado that is my precious boy. If our experiences encourage someone else, that's a bonus.