I'm extremely decisive. Quickly, extremely decisive. It can be a very good thing - seriously, never allow my husband to pick a birthday card, it will take four hours and he will read each one, whereas I look at three and grab one and it's awesome and I'm done.
Being extremely decisive means I make up my mind quickly. I do a lot of research on stuff, so might take a few extra moments, what have you - but when I have made up my mind, it's pretty firmly made up and I don't often change it. In fact, I would say, if I do change my mind on something, it's pretty serious.
Today, I followed a prompt on a Facebook post to an article, published on Psychology Today. The title of the article was, Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD.
You should maybe go read the article. It's well written, by Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D.
I'm not a Ph.D. In the alphabet soup of life, I'm a No.hD, so maybe that makes Ms. Wedge more qualified than I am. I kinda doubt it though. She's definitely more book learned than I am, but I'm no slouch in the research field. And I'm definitely the expert in the six kids I have been blessed to have. Six of 'em. Six. That's half a dozen, and some days, it feels like many, many more.
Some days, it doesn't.
Bear with me as I go on a tangent - one which will be resolved fairly soon. I hope. I'll try to be minimally verbose. HA!
I have some pretty smart kids. One of my kids appeared, at first glance, to be a bit less smart. Not a dummy, just - average. Said kid was really, really quiet and didn't like to draw attention, and so we just kinda, you know, let Child X be. (If you think I'm naming names here, or even defining pronouns, you've got another think coming. My kids read here, and I know teachers and friends who read here, and I need NO ONE to feel bad - God knows we've had enough of that in the past several years.) In first grade, the teacher said, "Child X has some signs of learning disabilities. You should explore testing."
Oh, hahhahhahaaa - nope, I said. Not MY KID. Learning disabilities are for parents who don't know how to discipline, who want to be their KID'S FRIEND, and my kids are SMART. Kids with learning disabilities, well, they are just dummies. (Yes, I am FULLY AWARE of what a nincompoop I was back then, please feel free to remind me 100000 times. You aren't saying anything I haven't crucified myself with time and again.)
Second grade rolled around for Child X, and the teacher - a veteran teacher for more than 30 years, with 7 children of her own, said, "I really believe that this child is a beautiful and bright youngster who needs some testing for ADD and LD." Again, no way, no how. Child X was sent to third grade, and the teacher tragically died in the second month of school. The new principal taught in the class for two weeks until a new teacher was hired, and the principal called me into her office - she informed me that my child DEFINITELY had LD's and was quite probably ADD, and she arranged for us to go for educational testing. (This principal actually has her doctorate in Elementary education.)
This was not asked of me. It was basically a fait accompli.
Well, fine, then. I'd go, but they'd show the school - my kid was FINE. NO issues. They were all WRONG. The testing was months long - plural - and took place in the school, out of the school, in the office - and was extremely thorough.
Except that they were all right and I was all wrong. My kid was indeed ADD, and had a veritable alphabet soup of LD's to go along for the show. Well, fine. They could label him/her all they wanted, but there was to be no medication. NONE. I wasn't doing that. Wasn't having any part of it. I would work with him/her nutritionally, supplementally, and with as many work arounds and accommodations as I could - but no one in the world was going to put MY kid on some nasty, probably carcinogenic, definitely mind altering, medicines.
God, I was so stupid.
My husband said he'd had the same issues in school, and still felt like he struggled with a lot of them, and his parents were big believers in firm discipline. He'd been hit, spanked, made to kneel on rice, extra prayers, what have you. I was already no slouch in the discipline area, but I decided to toughen up even more. We instituted strict punishments, worked with positive rewards, money rewards, fines, penalties, chore charts, consequence jars, etc. etc. etc. We started boxing classes for the extra discipline, gave the kids (plural) extra push ups/sit ups for infractions.
I was DETERMINED that there was no way my kid was going to have issues. I was the perfect parent, the one with the perfect kids. You see, there is so much social stigma against big families - and so many people who just believe with all of their heart that there is no possible way one family can meet the needs of all those kids, no wonder they are such a mess.
Fourth grade - my kid was failing, and the teacher told me that Child X was so quiet, never asked for help, she never knew that there was any issue - "I just never even know Child X is in the classroom!" Hesitantly, I did a tiny bit of discussion with the Dr., and we tried a medication for ADD. It didn't work, my kid hated it, and we went off of it. See, it didn't work, Child X doesn't have ADD.
Fifth grade, we did accommodations as best we could, but it wasn't ideal.
Sixth grade, all hell broke loose. My kid had a super sarcastic teacher and it was a teacher I wasn't a fan of, and we clashed quite badly - and things didn't go well for my kid. We had issues, plural. I spent an awful lot of time berating my kid for forgetting stuff, for not doing the things that were expected. I was a huge nag - but I was determined to be though of as a GOOD PARENT and good parents did those things and didn't have a kid who failed - and they CERTAINLY didn't rely on medication.
One day, when yet another book had been forgotten, my kid was so upset with the punishment that would be coming and the reality that the teacher was going to be upset again and that the mother was yelling AGAIN -
that Child X ran out into traffic in the middle of rush hour to get away from me and from it all - Child X hoped to be hit by a car.
Read that sentence again.
Child X HOPED TO BE HIT BY A CAR. BECAUSE CHILD X THOUGHT S/HE WAS STUPID. BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE IN THE FAMILY HAD ANY ISSUES AT ALL.
I cannot tell you what that did to me as a mother.
I was a failure.
We ended up at Children's Hospital, in the care of a very good doctor, who made it her first priority to read through the testing and after talking with both parents and child
recommended medication for ADD. And she virtually talked straight over me, when I spouted off about overmedicating and lack of discipline and not my kid and I am a good parent and People in France don't medicate their kids and ADD kids are not disciplined and their parents want to be their friends and it's a society wide failing and normal childhood behavior and she straight up told me to
shut up. And every argument I had, every anti medication issue I had - she shut me down. And she got absolutely zero from recommending medication for us - she didn't even prescribe it.
She wanted to help us. Because that's her business. She helps parents and kids who are struggling. To keep them from running out in traffic.
And for the next several years, I have made it my business to research ADD and causes and medications and work arounds and accommodations and 504 plans and I don't have a PhD, but let me tell you what I do have.
The knowledge that France isn't Nirvana. French parents aren't better parents and French society isn't better and I'm NOT a lousy mother and my kid, my kid - is a freakin' genius who happens to be twice gifted because Child X has ADD and LD's and a hugely high IQ - and Child X learns differently.
And if Child X was in France, with a different parent - the outcome would quite probably be the same. Or maybe it would be different.
Articles that say that the rise of ADD in America are the fault of overachieving parents who push their child and ask for drugs because they want better grades, that French families provide their children with structure and guidance and a firm hand - that only if we lived like this, we'd all Stay Gold, Pony Boy - articles that dispute the fact that there is something chemically wrong, articles that dispute the published brain scans and studies and diminish the very real struggles that some families have
well, I take extreme offense to those articles.
As a parent who hates to fill that medication every month, and yet hates to see what happens without it, how it affected her sweet child to bring Child X to a point so low that the child had the beginnings of an ulcer and thought death would be better than getting into trouble again - as a parent who researches things like comorbidity between anxiety and ADD with regards to locating a medication that will work, as a parent who devotes hours to things like 504's and accommodations, buys every planner in the world, keeps a master calendar that would cripple a different parent - and to be told that all of the issues are
because you aren't being a parent but instead trying to be a friend and that other people can discipline far better than you ever will
Well, excuse my French
but Kiss My Ass.