Letting Kids Be Kids
You’ll have to forgive my mood in this post. I have a particularly nasty chest infection. It hurts when I move, laugh, talk, or- you know- breathe. Pudding is also home ill with tonsillitis. She complained about her head hurting at the weekend, and took an extraordinary (for her) five hour nap on Sunday, but since we visited the doctors and got her medicine, she seems back to herself.
With one exception.
Because she had a fever, we didn’t give her her usual medication for ADHD. Sometimes Pudding is doing so well, I forget what a vital component medication has been for her. Then we take a break, and I remember.
I remember Pudding before she was five, with a body and brain that seemed to be in overdrive. And now, even though she is ill, it is just the same. Her body can’t get the rest she needs to recover. Her brain is seeking stimulation that she just can’t handle at the moment. She needs to rest, and that is the one thing she can’t do.
I never wanted to put Pudding on medication. I looked in vain for another way. We tried a few ADHD treatments where we felt the side effects were worse than the results, and then made a last-ditch attempt before giving up. Her particular chemistry found the right match, and the hyperactivity reduced considerably. It isn’t perfect, she still struggles greatly with attention, but her engine isn’t in overdrive any more, and slowing down just a little has helped her in every possible way.
Honestly, I don’t know if the child who couldn’t sit for even 20 seconds would have been welcomed into a mainstream class. I’m not sure if the child who skipped through books so quickly that every single one we owned was torn from its bindings would have ever slowed down enough to learn to read, or write. I know that she finds it easier to get through her various therapies now. I know that she is able to learn now. And play. And swim. And do all the other things that kids can do.
She may have made this progress anyway, but seeing her these last couple of days makes me think it would have been slower, and harder. The faster her wheels spin, the deeper she sinks into a rut.
I’m not saying that medication is for every child- far from it. Stimulants were terrible for Pudding, and a spectrum child seems far more likely to have atypical side effects. I still want to be the idealist mother who could find another way. But I know we made the right choice for our kid. I know that she is happier, feels better, when she can calm herself.
So what really ticks me off, is when I read yet another unscientific article about how ADHD (and sometimes ASD) is a construct of our times. Sometimes people actually send me these articles, wanting to help, I suppose, but doing quite the opposite. I can think of a dozen other ways to help other than telling me I’m doing it wrong. Sometimes I read, sometimes I just delete. They always read the same. Parents and doctors don’t let kids be kids, and if we just let our children play outside, or kept them off candy/ computers/ TV, or gave them the right diet/ vitamin/ parental attention they would be fine. Let kids be kids, and don’t turn them into zombies!
When the truth is- I just want to let my kid to be a kid, that is all I’ve ever wanted. This is one of many ways I help her to do just that. I wouldn’t even care about how exhausting her condition is for me, if it wasn’t even worse for her. There is no magic pill, but if there is something that helps her, perhaps even reduces the risk of harm coming to her, I’m going to keep on doing it.
And if there is anyone who thinks Pudding’s ADHD or her autism aren’t for real….well, they’re more than welcome to come here and get a dose of reality. Because much as it hurts at the moment to chase around a child who can’t keep herself out of harm, it hurts a whole lot more to be judged for doing it as well as I can.