LAST WEEK WAS DIFFICULT BUT I AM COUNTING MY BLESSINGS.

Last week starting Monday was difficult. A lot went wrong and by Thursday my stress level was beyond reason. I am a woman of faith, and by Thursday I let go and let God and moved on. If you are not a person of faith, this is not an attempt to convert you or make you believe as I do. This is how I handled things. It is also why I will not go into the details of what went wrong. I trust God will work things out. However, in the midst of all that was wrong I was able to see something was very right.

I have said before I love my kid’s school, but an experience a family member is having with another school made me love it even more, especially the principle. This woman lives the philosophy every child can learn. For the purposes of this I am going to refer to her as Mrs. C. Mrs. C came to the school when my son was in Kindergarten. This was a God send for me, but I did not know it at the time. She is a little Italian woman from New Jersey not a lot older than myself, but a presence when she enters a room. Initially things felt very distant. During this time my son and daughter were both difficult in their own ways, and I was out of sorts. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan and this was our first, and only, deployment so things were out off. Over the course of three years Mrs. C along with some wonderful teachers taught me how to advocate for my son. They offered options to me. They guided me through the process of setting up accommodations. His Pre-k teacher helped me recognize his sensory processing disorder and indirectly guided me to his play therapist. (She was recommended by the coordinator of a program recommended by the Pre-K teacher). When I wanted to homeschool my son for a semester to help him through a rough time Mrs. C helped me with that and had a teacher assigned.

I don’t press for personal information about teachers. It is not my business, but Mrs. C shared information with me regarding her parenting journey which let me know she understood mine. With every teacher change Mrs. C is available to address questions and concerns. She has attended accommodation meetings and made sure they went smoothly. I am not naïve. I know her presence at my son’s accommodation meetings were as much to protect the school should they need to ask him to leave as it was to help, but my point is she didn’t make me feel that way.

It is not often you run into someone who wants to legitimately help you and your children succeed. I have been blessed to have so many good people in my life to give me a leg up and guide me through this journey of parenting my different kids. I am grateful to God for them. Without them I am not sure I could handle this juggling act that is parenthood too well.

BLACK ADHD MOM

WHY IS MEDICATION TABOO?

I have said before we medicate. Have you noticed parents are almost apologetic when they admit to medicating ADHD symptoms? The level of animosity people feel towards medication to treat the symptoms was initially shocking. It would not be socially acceptable to look down on parents who give their kids medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, a broken arm, fever or cold. When it comes to a cold we medicate mostly for comfort. Typically, in regards to treating a cold, parents agree making sure the child can rest comfortably and recover outweighs any risk related to giving medication. Every medication I have seen comes with a side effect list, and therefore carries risk. However, when we talk about mental health and behavior problems everyone becomes a Holistic expert. “I give my kid this and that, because I will not medicate my child.”

I do use supplements. I have taken the time to learn and teach myself what supplements are considered helpful in treating ADHD. My kids are seen by a psychiatrist who supports the use of supplements and guides you in their usage, but who will also help you medicate when necessary. She has taken the time to educate herself as a medical professional, and mother, on how supplements may help with brain function. This is by no means intended to bash the use of natural alternatives to help with ADHD. That being said, ADHD is a very real condition, and just like there are cases where diabetes and other disorders may be treated with diet only there are also times when medication is necessary. The same is true of ADHD, there are times when a Holistic approach works wonders, but there are also times when medication is necessary. I refuse to feel guilty, because medication is necessary for my kids right now. I have had it said to me by other parents, “I will not do that to my child.” As if giving medicine is akin to killing them. Let’s look at it logically. If exercise and dietary changes, supplementation, clear defined structure, and making sure they get enough sleep only has a minimal effect on a child’s ability to control ADHD symptoms during school, doesn’t medication seem warranted? What if the parent is someone who cannot do all of those things? Supplements are expensive, not all parents can afford them. The parent may not have the time or ability to successfully implement all of the aforementioned interventions. Does that mean the parent does not care about their child? No, it doesn’t. It means what works for one family doesn’t work for another, and that is OK.

At the end of the day how I deal with my child’s concerns is my decision. I am not a big fan of the side effects and issues that arise from the use of medication, however at this time, that it is the most effective way to ensure my children’s academic success. We continue to seek and try new methods and pray maturity will help with management. Bottom line, I think parents should see medication as tool to use in your arsenal to help their child achieve success, and they should not feel a need to explain why they have chosen that tool over a more natural approach. This is a complex process that requires more than one approach to ensure success.

I want to leave you with a question raised in the book “Raising Boys with ADHD” by: James W. Forgan Ph.D and Mary Anne Richey. The Book is quoting a physician who indicates he is often asked what is the risk of medicating my child? (Not an exact quote) The doctor turns the question around and ask what are the risks if you do not medicate your child? (not an exact quote) This one question and how the doctor elaborated on the answer made me see medicating my child differently.

BLACK ADHD MOM

HAVE YOU EVERY HAD A ROOT CANAL? (OR SOMETHING ELSE DONE YOU REALLY WOULD RATHER AVOID)

You know the dread you feel before a root canal? That underlying fear of just how bad you think it is going to be, but then there is this sense of urgency to get it over with. That I how I feel about the next two weeks. My kids start school on Thursday. I love their school. I have already had our accommodations meeting for the beginning of the year. I am generally comfortable with what we have in place, and what I am not comfortable with just have to play out, and I have already put my game plan in place. Let me anticipate the next question. “Why are you dreading the next two weeks? I read your last Blog and you seem to be on top of things.”

I am dreading that point when all my careful well thought out planning falls through and everything goes straight to hell; while I figure out how to deal with the reality of having a middle schooler, 5th grader and a 3 year old. Experience has taught me this usually occurs after the first two weeks of school. So let me break down how my years tend to go.

Phase 1: The Honeymoon phase

This is where the kids love their teacher, no new work yet, and they still like their classmates. The kids have not seen most of these individuals all summer and they are planning to do all sorts of fun things together. Including year long extracurricular activities, which will inevitably result in them hating each other by May, because they never get a break from each other. This is also the time when you have very few behavior troubles or difficulty getting homework done. You also manage to get out of the door on time during this phase of the school year. This last OOOOOOH about a week. This is usually the phase we do the accommodation meetings in this phase.

Phase 2: The Happy to Be Back to School

   This is different from the Honeymoon phase. They still like the teacher, but homework and real school work has started. If we are going to see behavior problems the signs start right about here. Now, if your kid is as over achiever, like my oldest son, he or she will try to see just what the teacher is made of very quickly. If you have a more passive aggressive child, my daughter, we see such behavior as excessive bathroom breaks, and completely zoning out during teaching time. Since I have learned the hard way how they approach things the teachers get warnings at the beginning of the year. The problem I am running into, and dreading, is the teacher often times does not listen. Don’t get me wrong. They listen to me when I am saying it, but usually they are in the middle of the honeymoon phase and child 1 and child 2 are still so sweet. This occurs more often with my daughter than my son, because she is not technically a behavior problem. (My son practically has a warning label. Generally teachers heed warning labels.) With my daughter the issue that arises is her behaviors are a problem for her academic progression just as my son’s are. This phase usually ends around October, which is also when I have meeting number 2 for the year.

Phase 3: Is it time for Christmas Break yet?

 By the end of October, I am in need of  a break from getting up and so do my kids. They are tired of their teachers, and honestly their teachers are tired of them. We need the break and this is where I see missing work, we end up being late. We are usually in full swing with extra-curricular activities. Honestly, we are all feeling a little over stretched once we hit November. By Thanksgiving and Christmas we are ready to stop going to school.

Phase 4: Refreshed and ready to go.

If I had to pick my favorite time of the school year it is January to May. The teachers are re-energized. The kids are re-energized. There are usually a lot of fun activities in the second semester. My kids do testing at the top of the school year so the end of the year is all about learning new things. My kids have adjusted to their teachers and classmates. The school weeks go a lot smoother and frankly are much more enjoyable. It would be perfect if the weather were better in January and February. I would say this is the most tiring part of the year, many summer sports start training in March or April, but it seems to be when everything comes together for my kids.

Phase 5: May and early June we are sick of Y’all!!!!!!

I have said before I have 1 extroverted child, 1 introverted child, and 1 somewhere in between (not in school). The extrovert has usually annoyed her introvert friends so bad they are sick of her, and she is sick of her extrovert friends. That fighting for the lime light thing has gotten old. There are few exceptions. My introverted child is simply sick of everyone. I mean everyone. Classmates, teachers, me, siblings, therapist. He is just a pill for about a month and a half until he is completely off his stimulate meds. I am also sick of everyone and ready to cocoon in my house for the summer until I emerge again in August. This is the end of the year. I have finally gotten to the point where the end of the year is a relief and I don’t dread it, because we pretty much shut down for the summer. I give myself and my kids a running break. We do some enrichment work and we zone out. Why? Because the circus starts back soon enough.

Pre-First day of School Jitters

Every year in August I have the pre-first day of school jitters. I worry about how the new school year will go. I worry about how my children will connect with the new teachers. I worry about how they will react to the medication starting again. The start of the new school year is not exciting for me. The start of the new school year is stressful.

This year I am taking things a little at a time. I have already filled out most of the new school year “paperwork”, it was online. I have noted to make my first lunch order on August 17, 2015 in my calendar and I will write the check and put it in my designated folder, yeah I am making a designated folder for back to school. I have already printed out my action plans for asthma and allergies, it goes in the folder. I have already contacted the doctor to get new prescriptions that I need to deliver to the school on day one, inhalers, epi-pens etc.. New uniforms have been ordered and will be here in the next week or so and the ones that fit are washed and put away in the appropriate drawers. The kids are helping to get the house organized, but they do not realize it. With all of this you would think I was an organized person. I am not. I am one of the most disorganized people I know.

It always seems like other moms manage to keep their houses clean, work, handle all school requirements, plan weekly meals, sign up the kids for all extra-curricular activities and build a perfect calendar so it all works together. That or their lying to me. They head some committee, become room parents and still manage to remember all paperwork, money needed for the beginning of the year, and get the kids to school well fed and on time every day. This mom is not me. My goals are much lower. Making it through the first month without a meltdown, too much missing work, or being late every other day. In addition to scheduling beginning of the year accommodation meetings, learning how to be a middle school parent, ordering lunches on time and getting some type of reasonable routine established pretty much sums up my first month goals. Not to mention that whole moving my personal career forward thing also is in the mix.

When I write it down, I realize I manage a lot in addition to all the other things I listed, which are on my responsibility list too. I guess the part I know I am missing is the seamless part. I am a realist. I know what I see is not reality, but the mom that can look perfectly put together while she pushes the baby in the stroller and walks in with her elementary school kid, and I look like crap warmed over, fussing at my kids to move faster and carrying my uncooperative three-year old, makes me feel like I should do more to make my life seamless. Then I realize she may not have to do as much as I do. My mornings are interesting at best. Getting out of the house takes the level of determination, organization (remember I struggle with this), and structure it took me to get out of professional school. Yes, it is that serious. Honestly, it may take more than that, because in professional school I was not married and I did not have any kids. I have to think ahead. If I am one beat behind the whole house of cards falls and I am left starting from the beginning. My next week starts Friday night. Other moms seem so put together and their kids seem so well-behaved while all I see is chaos in my house. It’s not that I care what they think, I care what I think. I would love to feel the calm it appears other mothers have. Yes, I am aware that appearance is really just that, only an appearance. Every person has challenges and difficulties.

I know I am not the only parent who feels this way. I am sharing a few things I am telling myself to keep my expectations realistic:

  1. You are a human being, you require rest, relaxation and self care.
  2. A dropped ball is not a failure, it is a dropped ball pick it up and keep running with it.
  3. Remember why you do what you do. It is for your kids therefore all the stress is worth it.
  4. People cannot help if you do not ask. Communicate what you need so you can apply number 1.
  5. It is perfectly fine to set personal goals outside of what you do for the kids.
  6. It is perfectly fine to be frustrated.
  7. If you manage to get the important stuff on your to do list done, the day was a success.
  8. Make a to do list so you know the day was success.
  9. Your big kids are old enough to take on greater responsibility, make it happen.
  10. Faith and prayer can get you through the toughest of times.

These are things I need to keep in mind for the upcoming school year, and with regard to everything I do. The older I get the more I realize most things are not serious enough to get really upset about. I am trying to relax and enjoy the ride, even though that is not my natural personality. What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming school year?

By: Black ADHD Mom

Random Affection Crew

My three kids are the “Random Affection Crew.” The self-appointed leader is “Ms. Random Hugger”, my daughter. She will not give me a kiss to save her life, but I can count on a random path blocking hug. She will decided she needs to snuggle out of the blue and commit other overall completely unsolicited random acts of minimum affection. Please note I said unsolicited. A requested hug or kiss, from me, is immediately denied. My oldest son is “Mr. Random Compliments.” I can walk downstairs looking a hot mess, yes a smoking hot mess, and he will say you look beautiful today mommy. He is also my daily source of I love you mommy. Lastly, there is “The Kissing Bandit”, my three year old. He will subject me to random serial kisses either prompted or without prompting. He demands his snuggle time and will completely take offense if you do not take the demanded time to hug and kiss when he want’s you to do so.

Focusing on these aspects of my kids’ personalities helps to keep me aware they are human beings not a disorder. The disorder or disorders are something I have to help them live with, but it does not define the kind of person each one will become.

How often do you ask yourself “What can I say positive about my kids?” I know it seems like a simple question. I mean we love our kids so much we automatically assume we think of them in a positive light, but do we? Have you ever said to a friend, my kids are great little people? I am not talking about being that parent. You know that parent who gave birth to, or fathered, kid perfection. This kid is great at everything and is also the sweetest, most obedient child on the planet. You know the parent you want to call BS on when you see their brilliant kid is still eating dirt at 12, they call their parent a jerk for saying it is time to go, and mumbles cuss words while walking out the door (exaggeration intended). This child is also known as “The second coming.”

No, I am talking about meaningful reflections with fellow parents, WHO WANT TO HEAR IT. I am talking about vocalizing the words I admire the fact my kids do _____________. This doesn’t mean you are pouring over your kid and lavishing them with compliments. I don’t do that and I will not do that, because I think that would make any human being a narcissistic prick. I am talking about challenging yourself to think about the good you see and focus less on the bad. Doing this helps me deal with the more difficult aspects of parenting. Doing this is also very new to me. I found when I started writing this Blog I wrote about all the difficulties dealing with parenting children with ADHD. It made me reflect on how I want to portray my kids to world. Do I want them seen as a conglomerate of difficulties or as complete human beings who are working hard to overcome personal challenges.

I am choosing complete human beings. How about you?

Black ADHD Mom

VALIDATION NOT NEEDED BUT HELPFUL

I have struggled over the last week to find something to write about and one of my really good friends called me last night to say keep doing what you are doing. She conveys the following story:

There was a ten year old boy who has a diagnosis of ADHD, he is going to fifth grade. He does not know letter sounds, which means he could not read. The teacher from the previous year realized he could not read, and told him if he is not a behavior problem he will move to the next grade. The child is being brought to a tutor to assist him academically, by a church member. The parents have not shown-up for any tutoring sessions for this child. The only treatment they are aware the child is receiving is daily cod liver oil.

I am not saying the parents of this child are not involved, but from the state of the child that is what it appears. There are so many reasons why this child may be in the state he is in, but it does boil down to someone missing the boat.

This is a snap shot into what things could be like for my son if I did not do what I do. I am not a perfect parent. I miss things. I forget things. We don’t do work every day. I don’t live a perfectly organized life. What we do is try to do better. We try to master necessary life skills, and I bring people on board to help me do the things I need to do for my children. This snap shot is motivation to keep working. Many times I look at my son, and I feel like nothing I do makes a difference. There are days, where meltdowns and over-reactions are just a way of life. I worry about social interaction, self-regulation, medication side effects, and who his new teacher will be in the fall.

I am so focused on how far he has to go, I have forgotten how far he has come. I have forgotten my first grader had a terrible time learning to read and write. Math seemed impossible and he spent most of the day under a desk. My Kindergartener who was so introverted the teacher could not assess what he had learned for the year, and my Pre-K child who had to be carried in the door in a football hold. I now have my rising fifth grader whose only modified subject is Math. He passed all of his classes and many with an A or B. He had emotional problems at the beginning of the year, but he ended the year on a high note. He has come a long way. We have a long way to go, but I feel blessed we can see significant progress.

No, I did not ask for validation, but maybe it was needed. It changed my perspective on my child and maybe I see more good than bad because of it.

School is Starting Soon. STRESSED!!!!!

A fellow Blogger, a teaching parent, posted a Blog regarding building a good parent/teacher relationship. I appreciated this a lot, because many times the beginning of the year is that awkward getting to know you period. It is really hard to build a relationship with a teacher when you are dealing with the growing pains of your kid’s adjustment to his or her class. The most important quality I have developed is patience with the process, and it is a process. With that I think teachers need to understand that not all teachers are as well meaning. I think parents need to understand not every teacher is out to get your child. Body language, tone of voice and volume all communicate just as much your words. If a parent is tired and overwhelmed tell the teacher, so they know you are not a disinterested parent. If a teacher is at a loss tell the parent, so you can work together to find a solution. I have found the best parent/teacher relationships I have had included open communication and mutual respect. I have linked the Blog below. It is very informative and does a better job than I can to explain how to interact with each other.

http://ateachingparent.com/2015/07/16/2%c2%a2-worth-how-teachers-can-build-positive-parent-teacher-relationships-survey-results-2/