Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summertime and the living is ...

... not easy exactly, but easier, in that we don't have that panicked rush out the door in the morning so that kiddo doesn't miss the bus. Not once all year did we miss the bus, incidentally, and for that I want a medal, or a gold star, or perhaps some sort of grown-up Girl Scout badge.

Kiddo of course is loving the fact that he doesn't have classwork or homework and gets to stay at day care all day and run around on the playground. Because he has no idea how many workbooks I'm going to be making him do, not to mention the school-mandated typing program (which was not working this morning, dear school, can you get on that?) or all the books we'll be reading, not least because I signed both kids up for the library's summer reading program. This made me nostalgic, because I always did those programs when I was growing up, and (nerd alert) loved them. Because I would've been reading all summer anyway. These days you don't even have to fill out the book titles; now you just fill in a little circle for every 10 minutes you spent reading. Technically I suppose you could count reading the goofy stuff on cereal boxes. Fortunately I am an honest sort, and already know (thanks to a similar exercise during kindergarten) that the average picture book takes five minutes to read out loud, so I told kiddo we'll fill in a circle for every two books he reads. This gives us a reason to go to the library once a week, which kiddo loves because he can play games on the computers in the children's area. Not exactly the point of the library, but it's typing practice, right?

He's staying on medication this summer. One of the big points of contention in ADHD circles is whether to give your child a "drug holiday" during summer and winter vacations, and sometimes also on weekends. The Child Mind Institute in New York has a pretty good summation of the issue here. Sometimes the side effects of a particular drug are tough on a kid; sometimes the kid doesn't grow or gain weight the way he should. Sometimes (I think) parents feel so horrible about medicating their child just so he'll survive school that they look for an excuse to quit, even temporarily.

It was never in question that kiddo would stay on medication. For one thing, we haven't noticed any side effects. For another, he's more even-tempered and able to listen and follow instructions -- just as relevant at day care, karate class and at home as it is at school. Social development is all the time, not just during the school year, and socially and behaviorally are where he needs the most help. Academically, not so much.

Look, if you're on medication for a specific issue, that issue likely isn't situational. A favorite example in the pieces I've read is diabetes medication; if you need it, you need it every day. Kiddo doesn't stop having his alphabet soup of ADHD/ODD/OCD just because it's summer. He's been frankly a bit of a nutbar this past week or so anyway, in the transition from day care plus school to just day care -- running around, getting the other kids wound up -- and I can't even imagine how much worse that would have been unmedicated.

In retrospect, I can see signs of issues in him going back to age 2 at least. Easily frustrated, temperamental, constantly running, strangely agitated by things that shouldn't be upsetting (for instance, the Defcon 1 meltdown he had at a breakfast event once, because the bagel was pre-sliced; he called it "broken," dissolved into tears, wouldn't touch it). No concept of personal space, to the point where kids were biting him at day care because he got in their face and they didn't have the words to tell him they didn't like it. Total inability to listen, to the point where you could look him right in the face, tell him to do something and honestly, truly, he didn't hear you.

He's much improved over this past year or so, but you want to build on successes, not ignore them. And therefore he stays on medication. ADHD isn't just a school thing. It's a life thing.

Anyhow. I am unlikely to post again before the holiday, what with work and cleaning and cooking and possibly filling in the new garden bed I dug this morning (and not a moment too soon, since I have veggies overgrowing their pot), so I'll just say now Happy Fourth, and may your burgers be perfectly grilled, and if you -- unlike me -- live in a state where fireworks are legal, may you please be careful with those things. 

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