Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Right of Passage

C lost a tooth two nights ago. He has had three loose molars for weeks and I've been shocked he hasn't been completely obsessed with freeing them from his mouth. Afterall, this was the boy I had to worry about a few years ago because he was wiggling baby teeth that were not ready to come out so much that he prematurely pulled a tooth.

We put his tooth in the tooth fairy pillow and hung it on his door. As he struggled to get to sleep I struggled with how and when we were going to finally break the news that the Tooth Fairy is in fact me. We struggled with a similar situation this past Christmas when C's staunch belief in Santa and a few choice words with a classmate lead to a huge blow out and many tears. We had contemplated telling him about Santa then but held off, deciding starting with the big red jolly guy would be way too much of a shock. (Okay - I chickened out and A didn't want to be held responsible by C for "ruining his life" as he is fond of accusing A of already).

So I sat there that night thinking now is really the time to start the process. I was inspired by a recent post by MOM-NOS and how she tackled a similar situation with her son. I loved the way she handled it, slowly and gently leading her son to the answers he needed to have. I know in my heart that to not show my son this truth is unfair - it is unlikely he will get to the truth on his own.

Or so I thought.

See, the tooth fairy, in her exhausted state fell asleep waiting for the boy to fall asleep before visiting. The money never made it into the pillow. Thinking fast in the morning I told him that was because he was awake until after midnight (whole other post) and the tooth fairy cannot come if you don't fall asleep early enough. I told him tonight she would come IF he went to sleep early. Smart right??

He was supposed to be asleep last night and instead he kept coming out for various reasons. Finally he just looks at me and says "Hey, guess what I know?" and before I could say anything he answered his own question "You are the tooth fairy".

He looked expectantly at my face, waiting for my response. In my head I spun through possible answers. Remembering MOM-NOS I looked him in the eye, all the while thinking maybe he was not ready to hear this. I forged ahead, taking a deep breath and said "you are right". His face lit up, my stomach stopped twisting in knots. He jumped up and down yelling "I knew it! I knew it" and then he asked me "Really?" a couple of times to ensure I wasn't going to change the answer. He walked around the house for a few minutes muttering to himself "my mom is the tooth fairy" and I thought "uh oh, he thinks I am THE tooth fairy!!!!" so we talked and sorted it out that I am HIS toothfairy, not THE toothfairy.

I've made him promise not to tell his brother who is only 5, has not lost a tooth and who cried desperately last week when I informed him that Hannah Montana is not real (oops). We talked about the responsibility of being the big brother and not ruining things for him. I am hopeful he can do it.

I wonder if he'll figure out Santa and the Easter Bunny after this??? He usually doesn't transfer information well from one situation to another but then again, I didn't see this coming either.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Something Else

"He has ADHD doesn't he?" says one of the mom's in our treatment group as we all sit in the waiting room, anxious for group to get under way as the room begins to fill up with more people.

Her question throws me off a little but considering we are in a "Leaky Brake" group I answer simply "Yes, amoung other things".

She glances at her husband quickly as she nods her head repeatedly, so subtle yet there. "We were lucky to have dodged that one" she says.

Her words, so simple yet laced with judgements about my son, cut through me like a knife. I try not to visibly recoil from this woman as I try to form a response. I know she has made this statement after watching C "in action" at the group - his frenzied manner, going under the table, checking out every door in the room, going into closets and closing the door behind him. Hiding out under the table and needing to be coaxed back to join us. Those not really knowing ADHD and not really knowing my son would think that was ADHD - THAT was not ADHD. What this mom can't know is that she has hit a nerve so raw with me I want to instantly cry. I've been grappling with his "behaviour" in the group - not the behaviour itself but trying to sort out what it means and feeling like it sets him even more apart from others - even those who I thought he would be most like - other kids with "Leaky Brakes". Bringing him to this group is at a great emotional cost to me and yet I am determined to see it through.

Before I answer her, my eyes wander back to my boy at the chalkboard, white residue all over his backside, and I laugh out loud and ask him "How on earth did you get chalk in the middle of your back?". He twists his head in an attempt to look for himself. He turns in circles a couple of times, trying to get a look and then stops - finally realizing his attempts are futile. My anxiety about him, his behaviour and this group are out the window. I LOVE this boy, I ADMIRE him so much.

I turn to the mom and say "Well, most of what you see with him is NOT ADHD - it's something else" and I turn away, intending to leave it at that.

I was thinking that she would understand she was beginning to cross the line but instead she quips "So what is it?". I turn and look at her, acting like I didn't quite catch her question, also hoping she might realize when she has to say it again that it's actually none of her business. In my head I am so forthright but in person I hate to be confrontational or rude - I really want her to stop. But instead she looks me intently in the eyes and with pressured, pointed speech poses her question again "So what is it if it's not ADHD? What other diagnosis does he have?".

I grapple and decide to call on sarcasm and making light of this uncomfortable situation - my two best coping mechanisms. "Oh, what doesn't he have as a diagnosis!" I say as I add a laugh and a motion with my hand as though dismissing it all in one fell swoop. "Oh yes" she says, leaning back in her chair and I think to myself - okay now she's done. Instead she once again looks intently at me and says "But do you agree with the diagnosis he does have?" and I can hear the doubt and judgment in her voice. I quickly answer "Yes, every single one of them".

"So what is it - that we see - if it's not ADHD?" she asks again. I wonder about just getting up and walking away but instead I answer "I don't know yet - we are still figuring it out".

"What do you think it is?" she fires back immediately

"I don't know yet" I answer, forcing myself to stare back in her face, willing her to back down from this.

"But what do YOU think it is? You must have some ideas?" she has moved closer to me, invading some of my personal space and I pointedly move away from her without breaking eye contact (which is KILLING me, my son is not the only one that sucks at eye contact).

With drawn out, very pointed speech I say one last time "I DON'T KNOW".

I could tell her about his early life, the adoption. I could tell her about the suspected Aspergers - I could narrow it down for her and say "possibly attachment issues and/or Aspergers". But I don't want to. This woman is not safe, she does not value or appreciate my son. She uses our discussion to make herself feel better about her circumstances, as in, "At least our kid isn't like him". That's fine - she can think what she wants but I am not sharing anything more of my son with her. She doesn't know what she is missing. She can't know the wonderful spirit of my son from watching and judging him these past few weeks. In turn I will not judge her by these few short weeks and this intense exchange, my son has taught me this. Instead I will choose to see her simply as a mom also searching for answers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Something More

I love how life forces bring things to us in a way we least expect but are most in need of. I have been driving C back and forth, 2 hours each way, once a week for a treatment group. It's all about Tic Management and it is the hardest and the best thing we have done in a long time. Last week we also had a private meeting with the Psychologist about his OCD. The Psychologist is also the one running the Tic Management group. Before we began speaking of the OCD he had concerns about C's "activity level" at group and wanted to talk about effectively managing ADHD symptoms before we could even begin to tackle Tics or OCD - or anything really. I got where he was coming from - completely. Put C in a group situation, new people, new room and it is not going to be pretty and it is definately far from calm and orderly. That is who he is. I know it, our family and friends know it but I forget that others don't know it. I forget that they will see his frenetic behaviour and think "ADHD" when in fact it is not. I know it is not. The ADHD he has is primarily innattentive and if you could see him at home, school or familiar places you would see a much calmer and attentive boy - the ADHD meds work for what they are supposed to work for. This, what the Psychologist saw at group, is exactly part of what I am searching for more answers about as I wrote about here and here.

At the end of our private session the Psychologist looked at me and said something to the effect of "I now understand what you were trying to tell me. This isn't ADHD - it's something more".

Yes - something more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Self Advocacy

I've not been around much . . . well, not true. I've been around but it just seems to hard to try to post. Things are great and things are horrible . . . I cannot try to explain right now but I do want to share this letter C wrote the other day.

April 19, 2009

My name is _______ and I am 10 years old and I am in the 5th Grade at ___________.

At recess everyone else goes outside but I don't. I go to the games room.

Sometimes I like to go to the games room because they have lots of games but its not very big.

Sometimes I want to go outside to play with my friends but I can't but I don't know why.

I feel upset, sad and angry that I can't go out to play.

I wish you would let me go outside.