It’s been almost ten months since my original post about my daughter and her struggles with ADHD. Just before last summer, shortly after my first post, she was officially diagnosed. My suspicions were unfortunately confirmed. Part of me was relieved to finally get an answer and the other part felt guilty for all those times that I probably should’ve went easier on her and for waiting so long to seek professional help. I suppose I was just in denial. I didn’t want to believe that there was actually a medical/psychological reason for her behavior. It was much easier to blame it all on how she had been raised during those years that I had to split custody with her grandparents. I wanted something, someone more tangible to blame.
Even after her diagnosis, I was still resistant to the idea of medicating her. I had heard of all those cases where children turn into zombies and lose a significant amount of weight and I didn’t want that to happen to my little girl. If it came down to choosing between unsettling side effects or bad behavior, I’d choose my daughter in her original state, hands down.
But, after the summer was over and she returned home from spending it with her biological father, she went back to school. First grade! It didn’t take long before the phone calls and letters began to be sent home on a regular basis. Within the first month she had been sent to the principal’s office and a few months later, she was almost suspended from the school bus for trying to steal another student’s lunch box. Her grades dropped and she had to be moved from her original seat to other ones where she would be more isolated and less likely to cause trouble. She began accumulating absences and tardies that added up very quickly. Sometimes it was due to her not wanting to go to school or her slow pace causing us to be late and other times it was me being too stressed and exhausted to get out of bed that day.
All of this was depressing and discouraging to hear. As a parent, I want to raise my child to be a productive member of society and it felt like I was fighting a losing battle every single day.
At home, HK was no better. She still seemed to forget things almost immediately and she couldn’t seem to stay on task with homework and chores. The simplest task always turned into an argument that left me breathless and furious. My patience was dwindling and I felt mentally drained.
The problems with HK caused more and more rifts between my husband and I until we came to the conclusion that we simply have different parenting styles. Raising HK still divides us to this day. We can’t agree on the proper punishment for an infraction that has already happened several times that day or what to do about a child who seems mentally incapable of learning how to spell or how to assign chores that don’t end up becoming more of a mess than before it became a chore.
Today, HK lost her tape recorder (the one that I send with her to school to make swapping messages with her teacher easier) and after struggling to decide if this was punishment-worthy, I let her go outside to play with her friends. Because, honestly, sometimes I can’t discern between normal 7 year-old behavior and ADHD behavior. I usually stick to the side of caution because if I punished her for every mistake she made, she’d be grounded until she’s 30 and I desperately want her to have a “normal” choldhood, whatever that means. But, after she didn’t come home to check in on the hour like she is always instructed to, I got worried. I called her neighborhood friend’s parents one by one, but they hadn’t seen her. Twenty minutes later, I found her down the street and around the corner completely oblivious to how far away she was and that she hadn’t came home to check in with me in over an hour. Now, we live in what I believe to be a safe neighborhood, but these days, I just don’t think kids can stay out by themselves for hours on end. Not kids like HK, anyway.
This isn’t the first time HK has been “lost”. It took me driving around scouring the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago to find her the last time that this happened. I just don’t think that this is typical behavior. I don’t see other children “forgetting” to come home or not realizing that they’ve wandered off 20 houses down the street.
I’m glad that I’ve come around to the idea of trying medication. I think we’re all desperate for a change, no one more so than she. She’s very aware of her shortcomings and I know this affects her self-esteem in a negative way. If I have to choose between possible side effects and my child’s happiness, these days I will choose her happiness, hands down.
I’m just like every other confused parent out there trying to wade through life’s problems and make it to the other side with my sanity intact and with my child by my side.