Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy ADHD Awareness Month?

Which I'm slightly dubious about. I like the idea, let's say, but the execution, in past years, has seemed ... a bit circular. Are we raising awareness among each other or the general public? Because if the general public hears the same conversational checklist every year about why ADHD is real, isn't the general public going to get annoyed and tune out?

Also I think the general public might be more concerned with Ebola right now.

And the thing is, I don't need my awareness raised. I'm pretty well aware. What I could use is some advocating. Like, can some awareness-raising expert also explain why I can't find a social skills group that takes insurance? Or why the one group my insurer recommended that allegedly does take insurance explained to me they'd just hired several facilitators that wouldn't be covered, and there's no way of knowing whether the person who'd be running my son's group would be someone covered or not covered, but hey, want to schedule an intake appointment anyway, because why are you getting hung up on whether this group is affordable, you self-centered mom who only cares about paying the bills? Isn't your son worth all your savings?

Sorry, I might be over-extrapolating.

After the enormous debacle of the private occupational therapy company that swore they'd take insurance but really meant they'd screw up three months' worth of invoices and then nag us to send them the cash, I'm not interested in taking on another facility that kinda sorta maybe well-it-depends takes insurance. I'm interested in dealing with actual experts who know how to file paperwork. These do not feel like high expectations.

My point? If we're going to go on and on how ADHD is real and get archly defensive about how medication is sometimes necessary, shouldn't we also go on and on about how potential alternatives to medication, or at least supplements to medication -- like OT, like social skills groups -- are either not covered by insurance or are completely unattainable? Shouldn't we also describe how trying to do the right thing for your child can frequently mean wanting to throw something at the wall? (Usually the phone.)

And our family is in a relatively good position, comparatively speaking, in that kiddo has a behavioral therapist, an IEP, a special education teacher who seems to be trying hard to do right by him and relatives who support him without carping that ADHD isn't real. Yet still some days are a trial.

So you'll forgive me if I'm not precisely on the awareness bandwagon. I guess I'm sitting in the corner going, "But what does all this mean to me?" And if that's self-centered, well, so be it. Possibly I'm not the activist type. More of the "get things done so I can go to bed" type.

Anyhow. In the interest of absolute fairness, here's the official link to ADHD Awareness Month. By all means, decide for yourself about it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

On spooky things

One of the utterly fun (and by this I mean frequently exasperating) things about parenting a kid with anxiety issues is that he is scared. Of. Everything. Of being in a room by himself, anytime, ever. Of unexplainable noises. Of seeing "The Wizard of Oz" even though he's already read the book and seen the play version. Come on, kiddo, we have it on Blu-ray! You already know the ending! (It's been a point of contention.)

October, obviously, is not the best month for us.

Kiddo is scared of the spooky placemats on our dining room table. He had a near-meltdown in front of the Halloween store because of the scary clown mannequin parked in a chair near the entrance, and the only way I even got him in the store was by telling him to close his eyes and grab my hand. He is, every year, so freaked out by any sort of spooky-ooky house decoration that he will refuse to go near the front door even though there is candy waiting.

And while part of my frustration is that I feel bad for him and want to help him not be scared, the rest is totally that I love Halloween. I like spooky things. I was reading Poe in grade school. (Admittedly, probably not a good idea.) Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is -- still -- my favorite TV show. I like over-the-top gravestone-bedecked houses. I like gap-toothed jack o' lanterns. I like "The Monster Mash."

I guess I'm just baffled that my love of these things did not, in any way, genetically pass on to my son.

His behavioral therapist has been working with him on the anxiety issue. And I've been trying, gently, to put things in perspective for him.

I told him all about the first haunted house I remember ever going to, and how I was secretly terrified of all the ghosties and eerie candles and things jumping out at me, but I didn't want anyone to know that, so I skipped my way through chanting, "I'm not scared, I'm not scared." At least I think I skipped.

Kiddo was fascinated. Now he wants me to tell him about every single haunted house I've ever entered, ever, and what I saw there, and was it scary.

So I've told him about the haunted house his Aunt C.'s church put on, and how we saw her there, and she stopped pretending to stab a roll of paper towels to say hi to us. (Sorry, C. I'm sure you're thrilled I told that one.) I've told him about the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, and how the floor drops in one room and you see more of the silly-spooky pictures on the walls. DH reminded me about the haunted house and maze at Sterling Forest.

I don't know if it's helping, these haunted house stories. At least kiddo sees that we went in them and lived to tell the tale.

Maybe he never gets into Halloween. Maybe it's too much to ask of him. But I hate the idea of October being this trial for him, something he has to close his eyes and cover his ears just to get through.

He does like the candy, though. So there's that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The other table

The problem with the back-room tables at IHOP is that they're sort of connected, half-booth half-table, and there is absolutely no way to stay out of other people's space. This irks me. I value my space. And also I'm used to worrying about my kids in public spaces, because of their complete inability to speak softly or to get through a single restaurant meal without lying down on the seat or all over each other, and giggling.

It's a bit of an irony for an introvert like me to have two such extroverted kids. I'm constantly thinking "Stop drawing ATTENTION to yourself!" even though I know the vast majority of people find the kids charming.

So we were sitting there in our table/booth hybrid and a cluster of young folks sat next to us. Now I was worried about youthful eye-rolling and secret young-person pity for the old lady with the annoying kids. They got to talking -- and I couldn't have tuned this out if I'd wanted to -- and my heart just melted.

One of the boys was discussing his mom's ongoing fight to get alimony payments from his dad. Apparently Dad was claiming that his son didn't need the cash anymore, because he's all grown up and has a job and everything. The boy said no, Dad knows he has mental problems and doesn't have a job and is living with his grandmother. Dad, apparently, goes to great lengths to not hand over any cash. The boy's friends commiserated.

I felt so bad for the kid. His parents were fighting, his dad didn't want to help him, he didn't sound remotely ready to solve his own problems. He had no idea what to do next, and he couldn't have been older than 21.

If your parents aren't acting like grown-ups, how are you supposed to figure out how to do it?

The kids and I, meanwhile, having finished our discussion of the relative merits of various Muppet movies, got up to go. "Bye!" kiddette said to the kids next door. They all laughed, and the lone girl at the table, a pretty blonde, said, "Bye!" right back.

They seemed like nice young folks. I hope they turn out OK.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

179 to go

The first day of school, as far as I can tell, went well. I say that because this is how the conversation with the kids went:

Me: "Did you have a good day?"

Kids: "Yes!"

Me: "What did you do?"

Kids: "I don't know."

Me: "Who else is in your class?"

Kids: "I don't remember."

Hey thanks, kids, glad we had this talk.

DH reported that kiddette somehow managed to follow the first-graders right into their classroom, briefly fooling the teacher, and then needed to be brought back to her rightful kindergarten class. Which surprises me not at all. Wherever kiddette is, obviously that's where she should be, and of course everyone should be delighted to see her.

Today, she insisted on standing bus-lookout at the corner, and was the first one on. She said she couldn't wait for "a new adventure today" in kindergarten. That's my little Hermione. (This is actually a compliment.)

The smaller bus, per kiddo's brand-new IEP, seems to be working out fine. He runs right onto it. There are only a couple other kids on it, and an aide, so we shouldn't (I think) have any overstimulation/bad behavior issues. The only possible issue: There are a bunch of neighborhood kids at our bus stop, and kiddo is the only one who gets on this bus. I haven't explained why to the other moms yet. Usually I have no problem saying "Yes, my son has ADHD, I'm sure you can tell from all the running around," because if I'm going to acknowledge it, I'm going to crack a joke in the process. But I did that at a party over the weekend and DH wasn't thrilled; he thinks I'm setting kiddo up to be pre-judged. Maybe. So I decided that if the moms ask, I'll explain, and if not, I won't. Anyway no one seems bothered. His bus arrives first, so today the other moms helped me holler at him to quit goofing with his friends and get on. He yelped, came streaking down the sidewalk and jumped on the bus.

I haven't sent in the weighted vest yet, because 1. it's hot in that school and 2. the vest is actually in kind of sad shape. It's missing a snap and I'm not sure I can fix it. Sewing? Not one of my major skills. I fail the Martha Stewart School of Domestic Perfection.

I ran right from first-day dropoff to meeting with our new behavioral therapist. We had a good conversation; she seems nice so I'm hoping she can help. I did have to explain to her what "social communication disorder" is -- THAT'S how new the term is, if parents know more about it than the professionals.

And I've spent approximately the last week fighting with the pediatric psychiatrist's office about getting kiddo's records, so that we can bring them to the new practice. In the span of three phone calls, I heard "Sure, we can get those together for you," "Oh, you need to come in and fill out a form, and then the form needs to be approved by the head of the practice and by the other departments, and oh by the way it'll take two weeks," and "Oh, we charge 25 cents a page, do you still want all the records? He's been coming here a while. Oh, just the medication records? OK, you need to fix the form then." Thus perfectly illustrating why I went and found a new practice in the first place. Well, that and the fact that our regular psychiatrist has been MIA, no explanation given, for three-plus months and the head of the practice wasn't interested in having actual conversations with us despite the brand-new diagnosis, and recommendation on meds, we'd just gotten from the independent evaluation requested by the school. (He finally suggested we discuss a plan for the school year at our final meeting last week, apparently not cluing in that I meant it to be the final meeting. I politely explained that we'd be having that discussion with the next psychiatrist.)

I sincerely hope this round of doctors and therapists is more helpful than the last round. This just gets exhausting.

So we'll call things cautiously optimistic, and see how it goes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's just crazy

Every single time something involving mental illness or mental issues becomes news -- say, someone with a psychiatric history gets into a shootout with police, or a beloved celebrity kills himself -- noted experts always weigh in to say they hope the greater awareness of these issues will help "change the stigma" of mental illness. As though "changing the stigma" is also going to increase access to mental health professionals and give people the cash to afford such professionals. Not to mention, absolutely ensure that therapy/medication/neurofeedback/deep breathing is going to be the exact thing the patient needs. Sure, that's all it takes obviously.

But every single time I hear experts talking about "changing the stigma" I can't help but feel like those experts don't listen to how people talk.

"Man, that party was crazy!"

"That girl is nuts."

"All the traffic was making me insane."

"Getting the kids to school today was just total madness."

And that's just the general terminology. We can get more specific.

"He is so anal-retentive about cleaning the dishes."

"Did I lock the door? I get so OCD about that stuff."

"I'm doing 15 things at once today, I'm just completely ADD right now."

"I'm so depressed that summer is over."

"This show is funny and sad and funny and sad. It's totally bipolar."

Now I'm not interested in being The Word Police. I've used some of the above terms and I'm absolutely not holier than thou (or anyone else). But you can't exactly change the stigma of mental illness, or mental disorders, when the language of mental health has been co-opted as slang. When the terms used to describe mental illness or mental disorders are being used, on a regular basis, as jokes.

I don't know how to change that. People dislike being told they can't use this word or that word and then they go on rants about political correctness and how no one is allowed to hurt anyone's feelings anymore and society is stifling them and blah blah. But I do think occasionally reminding people what those words actually mean, and that these are disorders people legitimately suffer from, might -- maybe? -- bring a little bit of understanding.

At any rate, it would make for a more interesting conversation than constantly parroted repetitions of "We have to change the stigma!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Is the kid alright?

I mean, I hope so. We've worked pretty hard to make him so, the past couple of years, after discovering that the moodiness and the excessive energy and the inability to focus and the inability to hear what people were saying to him added up to a diagnosis. We've continued to work on it even when I swear every single medical professional we've reached out to has somehow punked out on us. For example:

1. The occupational therapy facility promised they knew how to work with insurance companies, then completely mis-filed three months' worth of invoices, then called me in a panic, said kiddo couldn't come back until the money was paid because lots of other people owed them money too and they might have to shut down, and could we give them some cash up-front and they'd pay us back? A year-plus later, we got everything paid off by submitting every single claim ourselves, and had to explain to them that deciding to tack on extra money to your claim because gosh you had to spend all that time on the phone with the insurer is not, generally speaking, allowed. Kiddo never did get to go back there.

2. The pediatric psychiatrist has been MIA for two months' worth of appointments, which is doubly frustrating because I've wanted to go over the evaluation from the school's psychiatrist with her to see if we should change anything. We've gotten stuck with a different psychiatrist in the office instead, who spends .5 seconds discussing kiddo with me and then hands me the pre-written prescription. I'm looking for another practice.

3. The first behavioral therapist kicked things off by announcing, "I don't believe in medication." So when she also stopped believing in taking our insurance, I didn't fight hard to stay with her -- even though she did offer useful advice -- because by then, we'd come to believe that kiddo did need medication, and our belief and her belief seemed like irreconcilable differences.

4. The new behavioral therapist, whom we'd seen precisely once, was removed from our insurer's list in February. Unfortunately the office only discovered that TODAY. Less than a day before we were supposed to have our second appointment. I am not a loud person, but you probably could've heard me yelling at the office manager from three blocks away. I am, obviously, looking for another practice.

Practice makes perfect? I'd settle for practice makes competent.

And yet I know all the aggravation will be worth it in the end, if kiddo learns social skills, if he finds a way to settle in school, if his executive function skills improve, if he learns how to keep calm and carry on.

But it still knocked me for a loop when I heard about Robin Williams.

Now he was, despite what certain websites suggest, never officially diagnosed with ADHD that I can tell. (Or bipolar disorder for that matter.) His official issues were drug and alcohol addiction, and depression, at varying times. But if you ever watched him do stand-up -- as I absolutely did growing up, and loved it -- you had to have noticed the bam-bam-bam cracked-whip intensity of his performance, just a little moreso than other comics. Or maybe you watched "Aladdin" and marveled at how the animators were even able to keep up with his voice.

Plus there's his reasons for using cocaine. This is what he told People magazine:

"Cocaine for me," Williams told People in 1988, "was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down." 

Who slows down on cocaine? Exactly how quickly does your brain need to be racing?

I feel like, whatever his mental issues really were, they weren't being properly treated. And if a universally beloved, massively successful TV and film star can't get the help he needs to keep his brain in check ... well, where does that leave the rest of us?

I mean, I can't even find a therapist for kiddo who takes our insurance for longer than a nanosecond.

I have to hope that what we're doing is going to pay off in the long run. I have to keep to the notion that previous generations flat out didn't know what to do about mental illness or mental disorders, and so did nothing. I have to hope that the whole "mental illness=moral failing" attitude is disappearing, because who could look at Robin Williams and say his whole problem was a moral failing?

I am never going to be able to watch "Aladdin" again without crying.

On the way in to work today, the radio station, randomly, played the Who: "The Kids Are Alright."

Yeah. I hope so.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

In which we get good news and then hit the beach

The good news being, kiddo will have an IEP next year, or more accurately, in about a month. It's a pretty extensive accommodation plan, and I'm hoping it'll help him get through the school day in more or less one piece. Delighted that the school officials seem to see kiddo for who he really is, and what he's really capable of, and we didn't have to fight for the help. Though to be fair, the school officials seemed equally delighted that we were so upfront about kiddo's issues, and what would and would not help him. Apparently there was this one time when they informed a parent her child was eligible for special education services, and the parent, who had apparently not been expecting this news, burst into tears. I sensed a bit of relief in the room that I would not be bursting into tears.

Frankly I'm relieved we're getting the accommodations, because then maybe kiddo will be able to, say, do his math classwork instead of hiding under his desk, or participate in gym (or Phys. Ed. or whatever they call it these days) instead of sitting in time out for getting too physical/not listening to the teacher/running around too much/whatever else he was getting in trouble for because I've lost track a little. Stigma shmigma. Why make him suffer through school if he doesn't have to?

Naturally, the first person to make a "short bus" joke in front of me is going to have to run and hide.

Having gotten that settled, we left for vacation, which was a multi-part affair. First we went to Point Pleasant and were issued a parking ticket even though we'd paid for parking and properly displayed the receipt. If DH wishes to contest the ticket, he can find some way to show up for the court date. How nice. You know, Point Pleasant, my husband grew up vacationing on Nantucket and he is already not impressed by your Jersey Shore-ness. Thanks for ensuring he'll never want to visit you again. Sad for me, since Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights basically defined my high school years, but it's hard to argue with an obnoxiously unwarranted parking ticket.

And that was before the car battery died. I was expecting the cop to walk back and give us another ticket for, I don't know, not having the proper dead-battery permit?

One new battery later, we headed up to Cooperstown, where the kids tore through the Baseball Museum in about .5 seconds. Historic uniforms and interesting stats are apparently not too interesting to the kids right now. They were much more interested in the ducks wandering past our table at dinner, which was right on the lake. Also, in the hot dogs. So at least they ate baseball food.

On to Grandma's house, where the kids practically pushed us out the door so they could have Mom- and Dad-free fun with Grandma. DH and I made our way over to Massachusetts, where we met up with relatives (thanks for the fun dinner, cousins!), then hung around Cape Cod (the flea market in Wellfleet is huge), then took the ferry over to Nantucket for a day. And here's where you really lose out, Point Pleasant: The beaches are nicer up north. No cigarette butts in the sand. No fee to get on the beach. Lots of shells for beachcombers (aka me). Gentle waves. No crowds even in July. I mean I can't even make the argument. It's frustrating for this lifelong Jersey girl but I think I may have been shortchanging myself on the beach experience. I'm hoping it's possible to get that experience somewhere closer than New England.

At any rate we had a fine time. We biked everywhere and ate fried seafood and made it out to the Downyflake for their utterly perfect doughnuts. We did a lot of road-tripping and random winery visits and made silly snarky comments about whatever five songs were on the radio. The kids also had a fine time, and I think Grandma may have recovered from their visit by now, but I wouldn't swear to it.

We got back yesterday. This morning, kiddo and I had our first appointment with his new behavioral therapist. And thus we get back to routine.

Monday, July 7, 2014

And another diagnosis

Which comes courtesy of the psychiatrist who evaluated kiddo as part of the IEP evaluation process. Kiddo currently has a 504 plan, which would be fine if the accommodations got him to the point where he could perform well academically, but his grades were starting to slip. Hiding under your desk instead of doing your math classwork will do that. The hope here is that he'll get approved for the IEP and an in-class aide, because I'm not sure how he'll stay on task otherwise -- and the work is only going to get harder. 

The school suggested another evaluation just to make sure we had the right diagnosis, and that we hadn't missed anything. So kiddo and I hauled out to the psychiatrist's office, where I spent the next three hours filling out forms. No, sorry, it just felt that way. Actually it was just over an hour. So much better, right?

Those social history forms depress me. "Does the child live with his/her biological parents? Are there any custody disputes? Has DYFS gotten involved? Is there a history of drug or alcohol abuse in the family?" Etc. You get the feeling that a lot of kids who go through these evaluations have bigger issues to deal with. 

The psychiatrist was nice enough, though she had that dripping-with-sympathy look on her face that I've gotten from other medical types. Like she was waiting for me to freak out when she said "social communication disorder." No time for freak-outs, lady. I've been through this whole diagnosis thing before. He's a lovely kid, yeah yeah I know. Now what is it he has again, and what do I do about it?

What he has -- well, that's seemingly a debatable point. This particular diagnosis is new to the latest edition of the DSM, aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If this were a few years ago, he might have gotten an Asperger's diagnosis, or else PDD-NOS, aka "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified." Since it is not a few years ago, we get to be a bit of a diagnostic guinea pig, I suppose. The basic point being, he shows some signs of autism, such as the inability to maintain eye contact, but not all of them, such as the hand flapping or spinning in circles.

Social skills are definitely an issue for him. Reading facial expressions. Getting too hyped up and thus overreacting to things. Respecting personal space. This just puts a name to it, I guess? I mean aside from the ADHD, which he most definitely has, in case there were any doubts. 

Among the recommended treatments -- and this does not appear to be set in stone, because the diagnosis is so new -- is behavioral therapy, which coincidentally we were looking for anyway, so that sort of worked out. We haven't gone to a behavioral therapist since the last one quit taking our insurance, and then we spent a year fighting with the occupational therapy facility about their inability to file insurance invoices properly, so we never found a new practitioner. We have an appointment set with a new one in a couple weeks, so we'll see what happens. 

In the meantime, we're hoping to get kiddo through day care all summer with a minimum of meltdowns and/or other incidents. More information on this whole SCD thing as soon as I have some.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The redeye vacation

So first let me say that kiddo overall did wonderfully on our return trip to DH's old family vacation resort (or as the kids know it, "the hotel," even though the hotel is surrounded by a lodge, a dining hall, a giant lake, a pool, tennis courts, a go-kart course, a bumper boat course, a nightclub and assorted other goodies. I think the kids' idea of what a "hotel" is may be slightly skewed now). Unlike on the previous visit, he never once ran away from our dining room table and out into the parking lot, in front of moving vehicles. Which alone is a win. Just once did he run outside the hotel without us, and we were heading to the exit anyway so he didn't get far. He more or less stayed with us when walking the grounds, although the entire resort got to listen to me doing this all weekend:

Me: "Excuse me, who's line leader?"

Kiddo and kiddette: "You are!"

Me: "And where should you be?"

Kiddo and kiddette: "Behind you!"

Then they lined up behind me like human ducklings. I first figured out this trick on the days I took them to church by myself, and it's remarkably effective, though it requires a few reminders.

In fact the only real incident involving kiddo also involved an exceedingly rude -- and I'm assuming child-free -- woman at the next table one night at dinner, who snottily told off DH because kiddo had "bumped into her like 20 times," meaning, he'd bumped into her large purse two or three times while running behind her. Slightly difficult for kiddo to avoid, since -- not to make a fat joke or anything -- she was sitting "like 20 feet" back from her table. I turned around and lit into her after she made another snotty comment, then went and complained to one of the staffers (MIL helped). I fully agree it was not my most mature moment. I'd love to be one of those Zen moms who acts appropriately in these situations, but despite my love of yoga, I am not Zen. See: the title of this blog. The staff assured us that this woman was only there for dinner that night, as a guest of the owner (people do own timeshares at this place), and she wouldn't be there the next night. So, problem solved-ish.

Honestly, though, if you don't want kids within 300 miles of your personal space, why are you eating dinner at a family resort that is utterly full of kids?

Anyway, so it was really a lovely time, except for my eyes.

I'd been testing a couple of new eye products -- free samples with an order -- and one of them caused some eyelid bumps. Huh, I thought, washed my eyes off, threw the products out and waited for the bumps to go away. I waited all weekend. Things got worse. Put it this way: I appeared to have a thing for red eyeshadow. Also, the swelling made it increasingly difficult to get my glasses on, or to blink properly. At which point the hotel staff sent over an incredibly nice EMS team, who told me where the nearest urgent care center was, and that I should visit it. They also said I look great for my age, which was nice to hear, as I'd spent the entire weekend hiding my face under my hair, teenage-girl style, in the hopes that no one would notice my eyes.

The equally nice folks at the urgent care center gave me a prescription, as well as the info that one of the products I'd used has a rep for causing allergic reactions. In fact, you look it up: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer. I am just annoyed enough to name the product. Apparently it's the silicone in it, which ewww. I already left a complaint message with the website I ordered from, though it was a freebie, so I don't know how far I'll get.

We were sticking around for the rest of the day after I got my meds, but I wasn't inclined to be around people if I could help it -- I looked like Rocky right before he said "Cut me" - so I got a Sunday paper and sacked out on the leather chair in the lounge, and read the paper all afternoon while everyone else did the resort activities. I know MIL thinks I missed out, but the truth is, sacking out on a couch and reading is about my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, so I'd actually call that a win.

The eyes are still not 100 percent, but they're improving daily, and at some point it'll be safe to use eyeshadow again, which I will be more selective about from now on.

But the kids had a fabulous time, and we all ate too much good food, and the '80s revue was pretty entertaining, and I snuck in a tiny bit of shopping. Also, we won Name That Tune again, which was one of the goals for the weekend. So thanks to MIL for arranging things, and it is good to know, for any future visits (I assume there will be some), that the EMS staff is really nice.

Also, I tried out the archery range and, though I haven't done archery since high school, got the target four out of five times (three in the blue), despite my puffy eyes. Katniss? Katniss who?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Put the tablets away.

Restaurant dining is more or less a minefield for an ADHD parent. You have to be mindful: Will he stay in his seat? Get bored and act up waiting for his entree? Will he be too cold or will the noise around him be too loud? Will he settle for hiding in his hoodie or will he hide under the table? Will something cause a meltdown and will you have to haul him out of the restaurant until he calms down?

Will you get to eat a single bite of your meal in relative peace?

I never of course considered the tablet factor. Which is because I would never dream of letting my kids play with a tablet in the middle of a restaurant. They're out at dinner, it's a special occasion, they should have actual conversations with the other people at their table. At most, I'll give the kids pens and let them draw on the placemats until dinner arrives, presuming the placemats are paper.

But let's just say the parents at the next table were working from a different playbook (one that's battery-operated, clearly), because their kid was on his tablet the whole meal. Even though it was a semi-expensive place generally used for special occasions. Even though, judging from the large group at the table and the presents and such, they were there for granddad's birthday. Nope, the whole meal. I know this because kiddo's eyes were glued to the screen for our entire meal.

He's not capable of looking away from a screen when one is available. He kept kneeling on his seat, craning his neck to watch the other kid ignore his loved ones and play Minecraft. Then he snuck over to the other table to watch from behind the kid. Over and over again, no matter how many times we shooed him away.

Vastly irritating, made more so by two factors: 1. There were 10 of us and no way to easily move to another table and 2. Every single other table around us also featured a kid on a tablet so there was no escaping it.

Seriously, if you're just going to hand the kid an electronic babysitter so he shuts up, why are you bothering to shell out the cash for nice food? Get the kid a real babysitter, send out for some pizza and leave. That way no one has to pretend to enjoy the others' company.

One of kiddo's relatives, who was trying to be helpful, pulled out her own tablet so he would leave the other kid alone. Except that this was what we were trying to avoid in the first place. Why? Because when the cake and the candle showed up, kiddo was too busy playing Plants vs. Zombies to notice that we were singing Happy Birthday to Daddy, and when I tried pulling the tablet away so he'd join us, he freaked out.

For the remainder of the meal, kiddo either obsessed about wanting the tablet back (no way) or hung around behind the other kid and watched him play. One lady from the other table, clearly thinking she was being nice, walked by and assured me it was no problem if kiddo watched the gameplay. What I did not say was, "Actually it would be really helpful if you took that stupid tablet and tossed it in the nearest Dumpster so that my son would calm down for five minutes and I could salvage some part of this meal." Because, you know, probably not nice.

To be clear, I don't object to the general use of tablets and phones. I use my phone a lot. I love my phone. But I don't bring it to the dinner table. And I'm perfectly OK with kids using a device until the appetizer shows up, or until the entrees show up, as long as that's their cue to quit their game and start making eye contact with people.

I am most definitely not OK with other parents making my job harder. Especially since my kid -- the one having the freakout -- was the one who looked like a bad kid, not the other kids sitting silently at their tables, obliviously using their tablets.

We're unlikely to have 10 people to dinner again anytime soon, though, so next time this issue comes up -- and I have no doubt there will be a next time -- I'm going to ask the waiter to switch our table. I'll request a no-tablet zone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

T-ball follies

So T-ball is going ... just about as well as I expected.

Kiddo crouches down and plays in the dirt instead of covering second base (or third base. Or the pitcher's mound. Or the outfield). It's probably a minor (league) miracle that he hasn't gotten clonked in the head by the ball. At bat, he swings approximately an hour after the ball has whizzed past him. When the tee is set up, as opposed to a human pitcher, he does actually hit it and run to first, so there's that. But when he isn't running the bases, he isn't paying attention.

He did tag one kid out at third, to be fair, a momentous event. I was too shocked to cheer.

We'd hoped getting the glasses -- in which he looks quite dapper, incidentally -- would help focus him, in that he could, literally, focus. But seeing the field more clearly doesn't seem to make him any more interested in looking at it. And he's just as likely as before to have a meltdown if he gets tagged out, or doesn't get to be catcher, or sees a teammate getting tagged out, or basically there are lots of meltdowns.

I know there are Major League Baseball players who have ADHD (for instance, Shane Victorino), but I'm feeling fairly confident in predicting that kiddo will not be one of them.

Our friend M. points out that we should let him play for as long as he wants to, then be done when he decides he's done, which is fair advice. But I have to admit that every time he has a meltdown or starts digging in the dirt instead of covering second, I am secretly thinking growl, because I called it.

He does more or less seem to be enjoying himself, and he'll definitely enjoy the end-of-season ice cream trip, so there's that.

Anyway we'll keep helping him figure out the thing he's actually good at, and once he's got that, I expect he'll finally find that focus.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fuzzy caterpillars and caffeinated ants

First kiddo flunked his eye exam.

He couldn't read the bottom line of the chart. Or the line above that. Or the line above that. Or the next line. The doctor's assistant giving him the exam asked if this had been going on for a while, and I said, no, this is news to me, wondering how soon I could get him to an eye doctor.

"What do you see?" I asked him later, in the car, and he said that things far away are blurry. "When I'm sitting at my desk, I can't read the whiteboard. The words look like fuzzy caterpillars."

I do admire kiddo's accidental poetry.

Why is it kids will tell you all about the Lego truck they're building or the complete plot of an episode of "Paw Patrol," but fail to mention that they can't read the whiteboard at school? Doesn't that seem like the important thing?

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

I can't say I'm surprised really, though I'm kicking myself a bit for letting him go too long between eye exams. My parents figured out I needed glasses when I couldn't read the blackboard at school (I was a few years older than kiddo). DH wears glasses. All of our parents and most of our siblings wear glasses. We are a nearsighted lot. Inevitably one or both of our kids were going to need glasses.

Kiddo seems more or less excited by the whole thing. He's very focused on the box the glasses are going to come in, and whether he'll get a box, and when will he get the box? And he insisted on blue frames. He so rarely expresses a fashion preference of any sort -- if the clothes cover his body, he's happy -- that I went along with it.

Next of course we'll have to drill into him proper glasses care, and not misplacing or tossing the glasses anywhere, and how to clean them with the proper cloth and not your shirt. (I know everyone secretly uses their shirt at some point or another. Still better to discourage it.) I'm sure this will go well. I'm also sure we'll be taking advantage of the one-free-replacement clause, after kiddo attempts to find out whether glasses fly.

When I brought him back to school after the eye exam, we were met with suspicious giggles from the office staff. And a couple of ant jokes. Already I was worried. And then they explained: The previous day, kiddo had been sitting in a front room, not sure why -- maybe to talk to the 504 coordinator -- and he happened to notice a bunch of ants. And he happened to be sitting near the office coffee pot. Which was full of coffee. He decided to kill the ants, and by the time anyone caught on, he had created ant-flavored coffee.

Let me repeat. He put ants. In the office staff's coffee.

"He didn't understand what he was doing," one staffer assured me. "It's a boy thing."

"We do have an ant problem in that room," said another. "It was an organic solution."

Don't you feel like they should've been mad, all things considered? At least mildly miffed? Because if someone spiked my tea with ants, I'd be pretty annoyed. Nothing gets between me and my caffeine.

But no. A third staffer waited for kiddo to walk back to his classroom before, chuckling, sharing the kicker: Kiddo watched her pour out the coffee and said, "Wow, they're all dead. Except that one. He must be a ninja ant."

I bet you had no idea ninjas came in ant form. Oh, the things kiddo can teach you.

The glasses should be ready in about a week, and then we'll have the new, improved, four-eyed kiddo. No word on whether the remaining ants have already skipped town.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

On being the LCD

Meaning, lowest common denominator. See, I remember some stuff from math class. I just justified my education. Now if I could figure out how to calculate the tip on a restaurant bill, I'd be absolute genius level.

DH and I are the LCD. And so are you, if you're a special-needs parent. You're the one who knows everything there is to know about your child and your child's diagnosis, and what's worked in the past and what hasn't, and which medication your child is or isn't on and whether that's the second or third medication you've tried. You know the names of all his doctors and his OT and his teacher. You know her favorite book and her favorite color and what she's thinking about when she melts down. You know how he does in karate class or how she does in ballet. Everyone else knows a piece, a part, one thing. You know everything. You are the lowest common denominator in this equation.

I was reminded of that fact when kiddo had a bad time last week and got himself suspended from the bus for a day. He likes to be first off the bus. Several times he's pushed other kids to get in front of them. The driver was worried a kid would fall down the steps. I get it -- it's dangerous. Kiddo shouldn't be doing that. At the same time, I get kiddo -- he's not trying to hurt anyone. He genuinely didn't realize he could hurt anyone. He just wanted to be first. When his mind is locked on a thing, it's difficult to get him unlocked.

Fortunately the 504 coordinator gets that too, but it didn't prevent the suspension. Kiddo was also more defiant all week, talking back to us, more sullen, refusing to do things when asked, and more hyperactive than usual. Which is why I yanked him right off medication #3 and he's back on #1, which seems to have calmed things somewhat. It's not a perfect fix -- he's still hiding under his desk instead of doing his classwork -- but his usual sweet personality seems to have more or less emerged.

DH and I were displeased about the suspension. Sure kiddo should be punished if he does something wrong. But kicking a kid off the bus for a day is a bit more like punishing the parents, who then have to rearrange their work schedules to account for it. Also we would've been less aggravated if it hadn't taken 10 days to find out about the first infraction. What are we supposed to do at that point?

US: "Hey, kiddo, remember 10 days ago when you pushed a kid on the bus?"
KIDDO: "Huh?"

I mean he's lucky if he remembers what he had for lunch that day.

Anyway. DH and I requested a meeting with the school, to complain about the lack of communication and the lack of info we were getting about how he was doing. It's a good thing we did. One of the assembled officials had no idea we'd been trying a new medication. Another one was unaware that kiddo's social skills group had ended for the year. A third had revised his behavior chart but never sent along a finished version, so he was working without one. (Apparently kiddo has been doing fine without a chart, so we're leaving that one alone.) The assumption had been that we didn't want daily updates on kiddo's behavior, when actually we very much do. It seemed like everyone had a piece of information about kiddo, or about his accommodations, but DH and I were the ones who knew the most. And if we hadn't requested the meeting, possibly the officials would never have shared their information with each other (or us). 

We are the LCD. We make sure everyone is aware of everything. Because teachers and doctors, despite the best of intentions, are not going to be able to help kiddo unless they know everything they need to know. Ultimately, always, it's up to us to make things happen.

Kiddo really does seem improved this week, so here's hoping he keeps at it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In memoriam

I met Tanji Dewberry at the Happy Mama Conference -- that is, the conference for mothers of special-needs kids -- last year. I was struck by several things: She was incredibly nice; she'd turned herself into a strong advocate for her son, a little older than my son, who also had ADHD; and man, did she wear amazing shoes.

She was one of the few other New Jerseyans I came across that weekend, and she'd self-published a children's book, "Oh Fiddlesticks!" designed to teach kids how to handle their anger. I was nosy, so I quizzed her on how she'd gotten the book done, how much it had cost, that sort of thing; she readily answered every question. She signed a copy for my son.

On Sunday night, she and her son died in a house fire.

The cause is unclear, though possibly an electrical malfunction. I keep being horrified by this story all over again. She was doing right by her son and trying her best to achieve her dreams, and it is just not right that the two of them are not here anymore.

Over on the Happy Mama Facebook page, there is talk of creating a conference scholarship in her honor. I think that's a nice idea, and should one happen, I'll post any pertinent links. I keep looking for an obituary, for someplace to send a memorial contribution or a card or, I don't know, something. I feel like attention should be paid.

I can't say I knew her well. But she seemed very much worth knowing. And I think this is a tremendous loss.

Incidentally, her book? My kids like it. In fact kiddette asked me to read it to her tonight.

I'm glad I bought it when I had the chance.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hills and other obstacles

So I had a meeting with the school last week to further brainstorm ways to help our not-quite-behaving kiddo in the classroom -- they've already modified how they use his behavior chart, and I suggested a clock-style chart on his desk to keep him on task during the day, as well as a few other things. I also alerted them that we'd taken kiddo off the medication, because, turns out, it was making him fall asleep on the bus every day, and not otherwise doing much good for him. (On to Plan C.) They were understanding, and said they would keep an eye out for aberrant unmedicated behavior.

Though honestly I was kind of curious: What's he like unmedicated? Turns out the answer is, "More hyperactive than you remember." Also randomly defiant and near-constantly goofing around. It hasn't been a bad week ... just an interesting week. I haven't gotten many reports from his teacher, though, so I don't know the full story yet.

One thing about kiddo, though: He's quite charming. The school officials told me, with some amusement, how kiddo has been handling his "heavy work" assignment of carrying a load of books down the hall for his teacher. (The idea being, it's a sneaky way to build extra physical activity into his day.) He was walking out into the hallway and telling the first teacher he saw, "My teacher wants me to carry all these books!" And then the teacher would say, "Oh, let me get those for you!" And then he is heavy work-less.

The school officials noted that he is so cute, after all, that people would do such things for him, and he's pretty smart, and I said I hoped he never enters politics. Although if anyone needs a fence whitewashed, they should probably give him a call.

In the meantime, at least it's sort of warm enough to do actual exercise outside. Kiddo and I went for a bike ride over the weekend. I was relieved to find that my bike, which I got at a garage sale last year, had tuned up and then left in the garage for months because of my back issues (and also winter), rides pretty nicely. I made one other wonderful discovery:

On bike, I am faster than kiddo.

"Come back here, you little Mommy!" he kept yelling.

"You have to pedal faster to get up the hill!" I called back.

Maybe I should've gone slower. But the thing is, I've been chasing after this kid since he could walk. Through parks. Across parking lots. Down hallways and around the mall. Run run run. You know what? You chase me for once, sweetie.

Oh, am I going to enjoy this. Every single weekend, whenever we're free. "Hey kiddo, want to ride bikes? Catch me if you can!"

Mwa ha ha ha ha.

Kiddo has also started T-ball practices, and I'm pretty sure he's actually hit the ball at least twice. I'm going to take that as a plus.

Another plus: He turned 7 on Sunday (yeesh, he's 7? I have a 7-year-old?) and had a most fabulous time at his party, and even more or less patiently waited until well after the party had ended before opening his gifts. Patiently waiting for anything is a bit of a struggle for him, so I'm glad he was able to see it through.

So, lots of pluses, even among the troubles and the roadblocks. Who's up for a bike ride?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The karate kid scores

with a fourth-place trophy in his first-ever sparring match. I'll take it. First of all, I'm thrilled he even got out there on the gym floor, got his gear on -- after just getting the gear for the first time last week -- and kinda sorta remembered his moves enough to spar with someone (although he appeared to have forgotten he could kick as well as punch). Second, not every single kid walked out of there with a trophy, meaning some merit was involved. He also got promoted to orange belt level 1, which struck me as a possibly fast promotion given he just got yellow last time around, but DH thinks the first couple levels are easier to get promoted in, and after that you have to really work at it. So, fine.

I know I sound like a bit of a killjoy here, doubting the belt promotion, but I am severely allergic to the "Everyone gets a trophy! Everyone's a winner!" mentality and frankly wouldn't send kiddo to karate twice a week, or pay for the gear and the shiai entry, if I thought he wasn't really earning his wins. As they put it in my favorite Pixar movie:

Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

Kids should be allowed to be bad at things. How else will they ever figure out what they're really good at?

We did have one issue early on. Kiddo and kiddette and I were wandering the gym floor, looking for his classmates so she and I could go find seats in the bleachers, when a few of the classmates ran by. I sent kiddo after them, but he came back, upset, because the girl leading the pack told him to stop following them. I thought maybe he'd misunderstood, and sent him their way again. Nope, the girl definitely told him to go away. He came back in tears.

Now, he's had a little bit of a crush on this girl, and has been known to goof around when standing next to her in class; his way of showing off. Add to that his usual inability to read social cues, plus she's a little older than he is. I totally get where all this would be annoying to her, and if she by herself had told him to scram, I wouldn't have said anything about it. But there were other kids following her, so suddenly it was a group rejection, and I was left standing there with one crying boy, his bewildered sister and no idea what to do with either of them.

I marched them both across the floor until I found one of kiddo's instructors, and explained that the other kids were being a little mean. He promised to take care of the situation and of kiddo. Walking back through the room, I spied the girl and her cohorts standing near the entrance. I had a brief mental argument with myself -- do I say something? do I keep walking? -- and then the little devil on my right shoulder won out. "Are you always that mean to my son?" I asked her, and kept walking.

Probably I shouldn't have said anything. Probably the girl didn't mean to make him cry. Probably no one in this situation is old enough to react appropriately to anything, except me, and I still didn't. But his heart is so much on his sleeve, and it's going to keep getting broken, because he has no idea that some of his behaviors annoy people. And I can't protect him from that, and I won't always deal well with that knowledge.

At the very least, I'm starting to nudge kiddo to stay away from the girl from now on. Better for everyone involved.

Still, even with that incident it was a good day. Kiddo got his trophy, he'll get his new belt in class (what do we do with the old ones, anyway? Donate them somewhere? Make funky art projects out of them?), and he got to scarf pizza and cookies at the after-shiai party. All's well that ends well.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dear Abby, think again.

I mean, I guess it's progress of sorts when ADHD makes it into a nationally syndicated advice column. Even if you don't totally agree with the advice given.

A high school student (I'm assuming high school, no age given) wrote to say that their ADHD medication was suppressing their appetite, and so they didn't eat any lunch, and well-meaning teachers and friends have been pushing them to eat, not knowing the situation. The student didn't want to tell anyone, because some of those friends make fun of people with ADHD.

Abby (okay, "Abby") says to inform the teachers about the medication, but added this:

"It's a shame they would tease someone who has ADHD because it's a condition that so many students and adults share. However, because you feel it would make you a target, you're wise to say nothing."

No, no, no.

I wouldn't call it "wise" to hide a significant part of yourself away in hopes that no one will laugh at you for it. That suggests that people are right to laugh at it, and no they are not.

Also, frankly, if you're different, people pick up on it, and if they're so inclined, they'll make fun of you for it even if you pretend that difference doesn't exist.

Really. Just ask every kid in grade school who made Jew jokes about me.

You have to turn it around. Why is it on you to convince people not to pick on you? Why isn't it on them to try harder not to be jerks?

You should never be ashamed of who you are, and anyone who would try to make you ashamed is not someone who deserves the privilege of sitting next to you in the cafeteria.

At no point have I hidden kiddo's diagnosis from anyone. His family knows. His teacher knows. The other moms know. His karate sensei knows. Because I am not ashamed of him, and because figuring out what works and doesn't work with him is sometimes a group effort. It takes a village to tackle ADHD.

And because of that openness, other people are open with me; they talk to me about their special-needs child, or ask where to go for an evaluation. It's good to know other parents deal with the same issues.

Even if I wanted to, I'm not a good enough liar to pretend I have some sort of Stepford-perfect son. I'd rather be honest, with other people, with kiddo and with myself. I don't want kiddo to grow up thinking he needs to hide his ADHD from people. I want him to be proud of who he is -- all that he is.

Just my two cents, Abby. Carry on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The experiment begins

Because the psychiatrist, who'd meant for us to be using the generic medication all along, was nice enough to call the pharmacy and say so. The medication may not work, but at least we won't go broke finding out.

He's only been on it for a couple of days. He's a bit extra tired, but that was supposed to happen. As for any improvements ... hard to say. He's still not listening at school, and not completing his work. He had a full-on meltdown the other day, in the middle of a birthday party, in front of the other moms, because I wouldn't buy him a toy. I played it off as, "Yeah, he's tired," as I tried to peel him off the floor, just because it's easier than saying, "Yeah, he does this a lot, he has utterly no emotional coping skills, the slightest bother or disappointment makes him collapse and he's not really a brat, even though he's coming off like one right now. So anyway, what were you saying about the weather?"

Amazingly other people never seem too bothered by the meltdowns. I don't see how that lasts, though. He just looks too old to be having them.

I think we have to give the medication a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. And if not, I suppose we see what's behind Door #3, and whether it comes in a generic version.

He did score really well on some sort of reading assessment test the other day. So, there's that.

Also, he had fun over the weekend at our joint pre-birthday hibachi celebration with friends (great idea, M.), and apparently also at the St. Patrick's Day parties at school. I don't quite get the St. Patrick's Day parties. Mainly because 1. we're not Irish, 2. the holiday as celebrated in America has very little to do with the actual holiday and 3. still not Irish. Although I do like soda bread.

But he came home talking about the leprechaun that snuck into the classrooms and did mischief, or something like that, and I sincerely hope we're not expected to keep up that whole business at home, because keeping track of Santa's sled and remembering the cookies and milk and the carrots for the reindeer is about all I can handle. Jewish holidays never involve invisible magical creatures, unless you count the prophet Elijah at Passover, and all you have to do for him is leave out a cup of wine. Which he never drinks, because, I'm guessing, he doesn't like Manischewitz wine either.

Our next event will be kiddo's official birthday party, for which he has so far wanted a Lego cake, a Minecraft cake and possibly a Paw Patrol cake, unless that was kiddette, who has been placing her pre-order way too far in advance. Such indecision. Just imagine if I were ambitious enough to make the cake myself. (Not a chance.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


So kiddo's psychiatrist suggested we try another medication, as the one kiddo is currently taking appears to be -- what's the technical term? -- doing jack squat. Well, OK. I'm not especially interested in hopping back on the merry-go-round of medication hoping to find the right one, but a lot of ADHD families go through this, so it was maybe an inevitability.

I did veto stimulants, because they're notorious for causing appetite suppression. As in, the kid loses his appetite and refuses to eat. That's a freaky enough prospect in itself. Kiddo, however, really can't be losing weight. I'm not saying he's skinny, but he might conceivably blow away in a stiff wind. I can't imagine how he could get any skinnier and I'm not interested in finding out.

It's kind of fascinating, the skinniness, because right now this is what we hear every morning after breakfast: "I'm still hungry. Can I have another food?" I try to pack him extra food at lunch so he can get through the day. I have no idea where he puts it all.

So the psychiatrist prescribed a non-stimulant, saying basically, let's see if this one helps. OK. She knows I like to use as little medication as possible, so she said we should be halving the dose with a pill splitter. Fine.

Not fine. The pharmacist said that particular pill should not be split, on orders from the manufacturer, because splitting it releases the entire dose. Naturally, it was Saturday night when I learned this and we couldn't do anything until today.

So I called the psychiatrist, who never called back (I hate when doctors don't call back), and the pharmacist, who reported that he'd gotten through and the psychiatrist said to use the whole pill, and I could come pick it up whenever. Oh, OK, so actually the full dose was fine all along? Gosh, how convenient.

I went to pick it up and discovered that it was pricey. By which I mean the co-pay is $40, for two weeks' worth of pills. Two weeks? So we're supposed to drop thousands of dollars on a medication that might not even work, whose proper dosage appears to be in doubt?

It's bad enough that ADHD parents have to deal with 1. the ADHD and 2. the various amounts of ridicule and contempt from total strangers who think they're horrible parents for medicating their children. Dealing with this nonsense on top of it all is a bit much.

I did not buy the medication yet, because I want to have a serious talk with the psychiatrist first and I will be happy to call as many times as it takes for that to happen. At least we still have some of kiddo's current medication ... for whatever that's worth.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Part 2: Information

Yes, I am aware that a two-part post should really be on successive days. It's been that kind of week. Next week I should be back to my Monday-post schedule.

Anyhow. Two things happened of note: I read an article on ADHD that didn't make me seethe, and I heard Dr. Edward Hallowell speak.

First the article, regarding the new book “The ADHD Explosion" by Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler. I believe I trashed a Times op-ed by them a few weeks back, so it is much to my surprise that I found the article interesting. Their hypothesis: The rate of ADHD diagnoses varies wildly by state -- from under 5 percent of school-age kids in some states (like my state, for instance) to more than 10 percent in others. That correlates with states that passed No Child Left Behind-style accountability laws linking school funding with students' performance on standardized tests. The states with those laws had the highest rates of diagnoses and medication.

From the article:

ADHD diagnoses of public school students within 200 percent of the federal poverty level jumped 59 percent after accountability legislation passed, Hinshaw reports, compared with less than 10 percent for middle- and high-income children. They saw no comparable trend in private schools, which are not subject to legislation like this.

How do ADHD diagnoses help schools at risk of losing their funding? First, Hinshaw notes, for kids who do have ADHD, it should improve their performance in school, including their test scores. Second, it may help kids who are disruptive in class settle down, which could improve scores for the whole class. Finally, in many areas, the test scores of student with ADHD diagnoses aren’t counted. So even it if it doesn’t help the child, it might help the school.

By the time No Child Left Behind was signed into law, 30 states had already passed these accountability statutes. The maps of those states and the states that have high ADHD rates look remarkably similar — mostly Southern states, with a few in the Midwest. ...

It doesn’t mean that ADHD isn’t a real thing, with a biological basis. Hinshaw and Scheffler are very clear about that. But it does underscore our worry that misdiagnoses are being handed out by doctors with little time, little training in psychiatric disorders, and a lot of pressure to do something to help kids who are failing.

I do appreciate that the authors aren't calling ADHD fake, unlike certain other "experts." But this research sounds striking. I'd want to read the book, obviously, but I do fully believe that there are doctors rushing a diagnosis because they think they're being helpful, or because they have no formal training in the matter. Hence my regular drumbeat of "general practitioners shouldn't diagnose ADHD." It's frustrating to me because rushed or false diagnoses makes legitimate diagnoses, like that of my son, seem less legitimate. If some of the diagnoses are bogus they must all be bogus, right?

Hey, you live with my kid for a week. See what you think. He doesn't run in front of moving vehicles anymore, so, you know, you'd have that going for you.

Here's the thing. I know a psychologist-to-be. (I'm being deliberately sketchy on who.) That person told me once, that if they were treating a kid coming from a lousy home life, who had trouble settling down in class because of the lousy home life, they would prescribe the kid ADHD medication just because it would help the kid settle down. Because assisting the kid with the lousy home life takes too long? I don't know. At any rate, I did already know the "just medicate the kid, whether he's got it or not" attitude is out there. Which is why what this article says sounds right to me.

If you're going to help kids, you have to help what's really wrong with them, if anything, and not just make things more convenient for you.

Also I HATE standardized tests. I hated them when I was the one taking them. I hate them now. I call them "multiple guess tests." They don't prove anything, except how well you take standardized tests. They have nothing to do with true intelligence or education. And I was a "gifted" kid, an honors student, in the top 10 of my graduating class in high school, and I'm saying this. I'll teach my kids to do as well as they can on such tests, because it's part of the school experience, but I'll also teach them the value of independent, critical thinking, which carries a lot more weight in life than "fill in answer A, B, C or D."

... and on to Dr. Hallowell. He gave a talk at a nearby high school and you would not believe how many parents showed up. At first I thought, are these all ADHD parents? because I forgot Hallowell is also a general sort of parenting expert, not just an ADHD expert who also has it himself. (Read his book "Driven to Distraction" if you want a good overall view of the disorder.) This was a more general sort of talk, based off his book "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness."

He's a good public speaker, should you ever get the chance to see him -- resonant voice (he said he had a cold but I didn't hear it), good sense of humor. For instance, he described his family background in New England as the "WASP triad" of "alcoholism, mental illness and politeness."

His contention was that $1,500-an-hour (!) tutors to help a kid get from a B-plus to an A aren't necessary (this is some sort of New York thing, apparently?) and that helping a kid grow up to be happy doesn't mean getting them straight As or being their buddy or getting them the best of whatever, but teaching them confidence, initiative, responsibility; keeping them connected to their family, their community and their spiritual tradition; and giving them time for unstructured play. "If we could just have an attack of sanity," he pleaded.

It all sounded pretty sane to me. But then DH and I can be a bit old-school in our parenting. We don't want to be our kids' friends, though they're lovely people. We want them to grow up to be mature, responsible adults who contribute somehow to the larger society. We don't much care if they don't get straight As. You know how much that matters once the child graduates? It doesn't.

I think DH and I can afford to take the long view because we were both "gifted," both in honors/AP classes, and having gone through it, neither of us entirely liked the attitudes that went along with it. There's a difference between getting good grades and actually being smart. We prefer the latter.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I agreed with what Hallowell said and was a little surprised, I guess, that people need to hear it from a professional. I did enjoy the speech, though. I would've bought his book, since he was doing a signing, but they'd run out. Should've bought it before the speech.

Since I do think he has many common-sense things to say, I'll include a link to his website here. Peruse at your leisure.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Part one: Exasperation

I'm breaking this up into two posts because I've been short on time this week. Just catching up.

Kiddo has the occasional off day, when his hypersensitivity is extra-sensitive or he can't stay in place for more than a nanosecond or he stomps around in an evil mood because his understimulated brain craves the drama. So that might have been his problem this past weekend. Or he was acting out because DH was out of town for work. Or the 6 p.m. birthday party he went to threw off his sleep schedule (though he did have a blast at it). Or who knows. But he spent most of Sunday being thoroughly whiny and unpleasant and having those tantrums in which he collapses to the floor and wails. Something you'd expect from a 3-year-old, maybe not an almost 7-year-old, but ADHDers tend to be behind their peers emotionally and behaviorally. I can handle two or three of those fits, but when it's more like seven or eight within two hours, yeah, I'm done. Especially when one is in the middle of church.

Actually one was in the parking lot outside church, because I wouldn't let him bring his noise-making Angry Bird toy inside, on the grounds that it might make noise. It got to the point where I walked kiddette back to the car and started strapping her back in, because I didn't think he would make it inside. After that was the tantrum inside church, when he darted off toward the snack table again, I darted after him and grabbed him away (the kids had literally just had their own snack) and he collapsed on the floor. In front of everyone. It's probably just my imagination that we instantly became the center of attention. Right? It is not my imagination, however, that one of the adults announced jokingly, "It's the RE eater!" Oh good, thanks for the nickname. Appreciate that.

Some of the other adults -- as in, the ones who have kids -- tried to help, telling kiddo he needed to listen to me and such. But I still ended up dragging him to the other side of the room to start getting the kids ready to go. At which point one of the other kids, clearly sent over by a parent, brought him an apple slice. Which was nice. Really. But also entirely defeating the purpose of my dragging him away from the snack table in the first place.

I'm feeling like maybe we need to reconsider this church thing.

That wasn't the end of the tantrums, of course, because he threw a few more during the post-church playdate, about sharing toys and cleaning up, at which point I hauled them both home and quit attempting the model-parent act, being thoroughly angry and growly, and made them both take naps. Kiddo was out like a light, proving that what I really should've done was skipped church entirely and sent them to bed for half the afternoon, but the other mom and I have been trying to schedule a playdate for a month-plus. I want kiddo to have a social life, but what if he keeps getting in his own way?

And why does kiddette keep having to suffer indirectly from her brother's wrath? I honestly don't know what to do about that.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I never thought I'd say this

but I liked a story about ADHD in the Times.

Heavens! Down is up! Up is down! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! (OK, sorry, couldn't help it. Harold Ramis, RIP.)

The Times, forgoing its usual "clueless parents and incompetent doctors have been brainwashed by drug ads into overmedicating children" meme, chronicles instead how child psychiatrists are teaching pediatricians and general practitioners how to properly diagnose -- not overdiagnose -- ADHD, and to not rush to medicate.

The story confirms what I suspected:

Because the disorder became a widespread national health concern only in the past few decades, many current pediatricians received little formal instruction on it, sometimes only several hours, during their seven years of medical school and residency. 

In other words, pediatricians right now don't have the background or experience to be making diagnoses. Which is what I've said about 50 million times here.

Various medical experts quoted in the story admitted they didn't have very in-depth knowledge:

Harriet Hellman, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner in Southampton, N.Y., who is licensed to make mental-health diagnoses, said that there were times she would identify the disorder through mere instinct, a “hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling.”

So I'm glad that this seminar exists and I wish there were lots of others like it. Because the biggest problem with ADHD is the lack of information -- not just among doctors, but among the general population, who still think that the disorder is a made-up thing to justify lousy parenting. 

And just when I'm sort of OK with the Times comes this op-ed arguing that universal pre-K might lead to an epidemic of ADHD diagnoses. To quote:

Introducing millions of 3- to 5-year-olds to classrooms and preacademic demands means that many more distracted kids will undoubtedly catch the attention of their teachers. Sure, many children this age are already in preschool, but making the movement universal and embedding transitional-K programs in public schools is bound to increase the pressure. We’re all for high standards, but danger lurks.
Right, fellas, the key is "many children this age are already in preschool." Except it's probably private preschool, it costs parents lots of money and if there is a problem -- as was the case with my son, who got in trouble basically every day for a year at two different preschools before he was diagnosed -- there are no experts on staff and no resources available to assist. We yanked him out of day care entirely the summer before kindergarten and kept him home with a nanny because the school setting was so difficult for him -- and that was after he was diagnosed. But the school wasn't equipped to deal with him, period. (This was all pre-medication. Something else the writers rail against.)

My point? Sure, it's possible overdiagnoses might result. It's also possible that legitimate cases of ADHD will be caught earlier and treatment plans, behavioral or otherwise, begun earlier, thus preventing a lot of anger, angst and heartache for those families.

So I'm a little dubious about this op-ed, and annoyed at the Times all over again. It was nice while it lasted, right?

Monday, February 17, 2014

And there it is ...

The moment, the exact moment, when it is blindingly obvious that you are not dealing with a neurotypical kid, no matter what people say about blah blah blah ADHD is fake etc. The moment was at the snack table.

Our church has a snack table for post-service munching and chatting. Generally the offerings are cakes and crackers and cheese and fruit. I try to discourage the kids from attacking the snack table, because there isn't a ton of food there, and because generally we go out for lunch afterward anyway, so I can get some sort of protein into them and so I can get the Sunday paper and more or less read it in peace while they split the comics. Such is my strategy.

Kiddo, however, will not be denied the snack table. He'll swoop back onto it again and again, like a carb-craving vulture, even though his RE class just had a separate snack, even though he knows we're about to go out for lunch, even though I have told him not to. I do occasionally worry how this looks to the other folks there, some of whom might not know what he has, and might just think he's a greedy little brat. Invisible disabilities are fun, right?

So I told him flat out: You may take one snack, and then you're done, because we're going to go to the restaurant. He agreed and took one snack. And two minutes later was begging for another one. I said no, and two minutes after that I saw him dart to the other side of the room and I went and dragged his protesting little body away from the snack table. Reminded him again that he was done, and that we would be leaving shortly. He said OK.

Kiddette was finishing up the craft she had made in class, and while we waited for her, I saw him dart across the room again and grab something. Not like he'd forgotten. Not like he was deliberately disobeying (though yeah, he was). Like he wanted the snack so badly it was all he could think about and his entire body vibrated with the need and he had to grab it even though he'd get in trouble because it was not physically possible for him to stop himself. As though he had absolutely no choice in the matter and it just had to be done. Boom.

Classic ADHD moment. Impulse! Action! Consequences? Oh shoot, there are consequences?

The consequence was that we did not go out for lunch after all, but instead went straight home. That's generally the consequence if they act up at church. Unfair to kiddette? Sure. Unfair to me, missing out on my paper? Um, yes. But we can't let him get in the habit of ignoring us. We have to remind him, constantly, of the natural order of things: Action-consequence. Over and over again. We have to be the structure for him, until and unless he's capable of building that structure for himself. He needs to get to the point where he can, maybe, pause and think about an action beforehand, and then, maybe, make a different choice.

It's so unbelievably frustrating sometimes. I hope the work pays off in the end.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The winter of everyone's discontent

There cannot be more snow coming. Seriously. I am in denial because our patio set is caked in white and my poor garden gnome is buried up to the top of his hat and there is no more room for snow in these parts, so it's just going to have to go somewhere else because I said so. The kids had two snow days and a delayed opening last week. At this rate the school year will be extended until Aug. 30.

The best part about driving home from work in the snow? I mean, aside from the 5-mile-per-hour rate of speed. Definitely how you can't even see the lanes anymore and you keep behind whoever's in front of you because you figure they must be in a proper lane, and if they're not, there's two of you doing it so it's a lane now, right?

Punxsutawney Phil, you are not beloved in New Jersey this year. A certain restaurant in the area is jokingly advertising fried groundhog on their billboard. At least I think they're joking.

Spring will be a nice change of pace. Sunshine. Flowers. T-ball. Um.

Yes, we signed kiddo up for T-ball. I have expressed my reservations, though not in front of kiddo. Team sports are not recommended for ADHD kids -- they're likely to get sensory overload and shut down, or forget whatever it is they're supposed to be doing, or miss social cues from their teammates as well as signals from their coach, or overly freak out when they screw up, or any number of other things that would make them less than stellar team players. Every other family in our informal moms group has said they tried signing their son up for a team sport, and it was a disaster.

Individual sports, in which the child is basically competing against himself, is a better bet. Hence why kiddo takes karate. One of the other kids in our group fences. Swimming is also good (just ask Michael Phelps) and I would think track would be too (because running comes quite naturally to these kids).

Still. Our friend M. points out that this is the year to get kiddo started in baseball, if we're going to do it at all. And T-ball is very low-key. And DH, who knows something about baseball, would love to have some father-son bonding over pitches and catches.

So we signed kiddo up and maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he'll do great. DH says he has a nice even swing, and that's something that can't be taught. Maybe I'm just being Mommy Chicken Little here.

If he hates it, he can drop it. He'll have an out. And by extension, so will we.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Existential crises and other weekend activities

So I bought kiddette a book about Emma Lazarus. This seemed like a good idea at the time. She's fascinated with the Statue of Liberty, which I expect we'll be visiting at some point when the weather warms up (HAHAHA that's a good one, clearly we are going to be having winter forever and I will be driving to work in the snow every day from now on), and this lovely children's book explains all about Emma and how she wanted to advocate for immigrants and so she wrote the poem that's engraved on the base. You know the poem. Don't make me weep for the future of literacy in America. Just say you know the poem.

Kiddette loved the book and we were reading it when, toward the end, she wanted to know where Emma was. Here's the thing: Emma died young, before the poem was added to the base. The book gently phrases it as "she lived a short time after" or something like that, so kiddette missed the nuance. So I explained to her that Emma -- who I'd already said was a real person, who lived a long time ago -- had died.

Now I've had endless conversations about death with kiddo, but in this interested abstract sort of sense. Most notably, during the opening chapter of "The Secret Garden," but I had that coming because everyone Mary knows dies of cholera by page 12 or so.

Kiddo: Do people die of cholera?

Me: No, that was a long time ago, no one dies of cholera now.

Kiddo: Daddy's sick. Will he die of cholera?

Also, he was fairly gleeful about the evil aunts getting squished by the peach in "James and the Giant Peach," but in his defense, they are pretty evil.

So I've gotten used to the idea that death is an endlessly fascinating topic but not an upsetting one.

Kiddette, apparently, begs to differ. As soon as I told her Emma Lazarus was dead, she dissolved into tears and was inconsolable for several minutes. Then she started asking whether various family members were going to die. Then she asked whether she was going to die.

Sweetheart. Seriously. You are 4.

I'm not going to lie to her -- obviously, otherwise I would've said Emma Lazarus is totally fine and lives right around the block -- but I'd like to be diplomatic about these things whenever possible. So I said that everyone dies eventually, but that she was going to live a long long time and grow up and do wonderful things, and she seemed fine with that. I have no idea if that's what you're supposed to say. I never looked it up, because I didn't expect to be having this conversation with a 4-year-old. Next she's going to ask me where babies come from.

Kiddo meanwhile is -- well, it's hard to say. He's had a couple of good-enough days at school. He hasn't complained about the vest -- to us, anyway. He got a good report card (as expected, just fine academically, less so behaviorally). But he's been a hair-trigger away from a meltdown on pretty much a constant basis. On Saturday, he utterly flipped because he didn't have time to watch TV before karate class, to the point where I nearly didn't bring him to class. On Sunday, he utterly flipped because the guests for our impromptu Super Bowl party were running late and he wanted them to come play with him. Today, he utterly flipped because he would not be woken from his nap and thus missed out on playing in the snow during his 197876879732877684th snow day of the year. I wonder what he'll utterly flip about tomorrow?

He's got no coping skills, emotionally. Something that would be a minor annoyance to another kid is a major crisis to him, and he can't process it. I don't know if it's the ADHD or the OCD talking, or if they're just sort of ganging up on him and it's a team effort. I can't lie -- it's exasperating, even knowing he's not doing it on purpose. I'm not always sure what to do about it.

Today was kind of a freebie with the snow day, but we'll see how he does the rest of the week. If the modified class accommodations keep helping, great. If not ... hmm.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

No vest for the weary

Kiddo wears a weighted vest at school. Not all day, but at timed intervals; X minutes on, X minutes off, that sort of thing. It's supposed to help with his sensory issues, since he doesn't feel grounded, doesn't "know where his body is in space," as the therapists say; to ground himself, he might otherwise "seek input" by crashing into things and/or people. (Or my hip. That's been going on for years. A hug from kiddo is more like a full-body assault. I'm used to it, and will brace myself when I hear him coming so I don't topple over.) Also, carrying the extra weight around -- aka "heavy work" -- helps burn off some of the extra energy. At least in theory.

In practice, he's been complaining at school about it, wanting to take the thing off as soon as he gets there. He's never said anything to us about it, but maybe he thinks we won't listen. Or maybe getting out of the house is such a monumentally herculean task every single weekday, requiring the extensive use of timers and repeated instructions and occasional threats ("OK, you can skip breakfast today if you don't want to get dressed. I'm going downstairs, bye." Obviously a threat we've never carried out. But still), that he's just doing what he's asked so he can be done more quickly. Because doing any routine sort of anything hurts his brain.

This came up during our meeting with the school last week, set up because he's also been shutting down approximately after lunch, lying on the floor, refusing to do his work, basically hiding in the sensory corner. We were trying to figure out how to settle him so he could focus on the work, which his teacher (and I) are positive he can do, because he's smart.

By the way? I love that his teacher set up a sensory corner in the classroom, even if kiddo would rather spend all day in it than do his work.

I'm not sure what to think about the vest. He's never had an issue wearing it before. But possibly, he's finally noticed that the other kids don't wear one.

"Hypersensitivity" is another part of the whole ADHD puzzle. It means ADHDers are very, very aware of what the people around them are doing or saying, like having antennae permanently at work, and are liable to think they're being criticized or laughed at when they're not.

One time a year-plus ago, kiddo and I were walking through a parking lot, and maybe 20 feet away were a couple of teenage girls, laughing to each other. Kiddo was utterly convinced that the girls were laughing at him, because he'd just lost his toy car. I explained to him that 1. they were total strangers, 2. they were twice as old as he was, 3. they were too far away to hear or be heard and 4. why would they care about his car anyway? And yet I couldn't shake him on it. That's the sort of thing we occasionally deal with.

So, is he being hypersensitive about his vest? Has it outlived its usefulness? His teacher is going to switch him over to a weighted lap blanket for parts of the day to see if that makes a difference.

The other possibility is, well, he's just tired. It is, as every other adult on the planet is fond of pointing out to me, a long day. (Gosh, and I do appreciate the daycare guilt. Thanks.) He'll still take a nap if you let him. How do I know? It's 5 p.m. on Sunday and he's napping right now. And has been since about 2. (I suspect he's going to be annoyed when he wakes up to discover it's too dark to play in the snow. Sorry, kid.)

So if he's just too tired, what do I do, start sending him to school with mocha lattes? Slip a Red Bull in his backpack? Because while he can lie down at the nurse's office for a few minutes as needed, they don't do naptime in first grade.

At the school meeting, we agreed that they would adjust his behavioral chart, add in more little breaks throughout the day and give him extra chances to move around, in addition to using the blanket. Maybe it'll help, maybe not. If he really is too tired to function, does he need a 6 p.m. bedtime? And in what universe would that be logistically possible?

Tell you the truth, I don't blame him. One of the more disappointing things about adulthood is the lack of naps. Or maybe it's no summers off. Yeah, it's that.

This isn't 40

Well, it is, but I hated that movie. Sadly. Normally I like anything from Judd Apatow, and I think Paul Rudd is both funny and adorable, but that particular flick was so full of  whining and juvenile behavior and leering at Megan Fox (see: juvenile behavior) that I sort of wanted to smack all the characters upside the head. Especially when they blamed all their problems on their parents. Especially when they decided they would solve all their financial issues by selling their bloated house, because apparently no one in this movie had been following the real estate market. I think the movie should've been called "This Is 40 in Overentitled Los Angeles But Not Where Real People Live."

Anyhow. 40. I don't feel 40, however that's supposed to feel. (Unfulfilled? Angsty? I'm Gen X -- isn't that how we always feel?) I see no midlife crisis over the horizon; I won't be trading my perfectly practical family car in for a convertible, because I hate when the wind messes my hair up, and also I can blast Daft Punk just as well in my practical car. Besides, I'm pretty sure the boomers redefined "midlife" on us and I shouldn't be planning a crisis until at least 55.

To celebrate, DH and I went away for the weekend and Grandma and Grandpa stayed with the kids. I felt a cold-type thing coming on and stayed in bed the day before, and more or less fought it to a draw. DH was less lucky, and spent the weekend in a bit of a stupor, guzzling tea and soup at every restaurant we visited. DH is a trouper. Especially since my idea of a grand time is wandering the streets of a cute little town and checking out every single shop in sight. In other words, a guy's worst nightmare.

The playhouse in town was screening "Gone With the Wind" for free on Friday night, and I hadn't seen it since high school, when I promptly dismissed Scarlett as a bitch. It seemed fair to give the movie another shot. Quite a few people showed up -- pretty good turnout for a four-hour movie -- and everyone applauded when Scarlett said "I will never go hungry again!" and then when Rhett said "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Also, I now think Scarlett is a tragic case of a charming young girl irredeemably hardened by war, and Ashley is a spineless jerk. And Rhett is also a jerk. But wow, impressive cinematography.

So I shopped, and we ate entirely too much great food, and then we came back and DH slept for most of the day. And then we had a big family dinner to celebrate at which I again ate too much great food. It's back to salads and homemade smoothies for me.

I'm just not feeling this 40 thing. The only differences between me now and me 20 years ago are 1. better hair, 2. better clothes, 3. children. (I was probably with DH 20 years ago too. Or we were "just friends." Always one or the other.) And since the children are the greatest part of my life, I'm hardly going to see that as a minus.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The trouble with blankies

Both kids have blankies. Adorable. I know. Kiddo's is green and fuzzy. Kiddette has two blankies -- a fuzzy pink-and-white one, and a smaller, crocheted pink one that she acquired in the hospital, along with her little infant bonnet. It's like a blankie tag team.

I wouldn't mind so much the blankie love if said blankies would just stay in place. Like, on their beds, all day. But kiddette absolutely insists on bringing her fuzzy pink-and-white blankie -- aka Main Blankie -- to school, even though she hasn't taken a nap roughly since she was still wearing diapers. (Every day her teacher sends home the daily report and writes "NO NAP" on it as though we should somehow still be surprised at that fact.) This means that Main Blankie must travel from her bed to the general area of the front door so that she can bring it to the car. For some reason this is such a herculean task that it isn't done until five seconds before she needs to leave, and the entire parade of coat and backpack and car is held up while she wanders around looking for the blankie that she'd left in a heap atop her bed.

On the other hand, kiddette never insists on bringing the crocheted blankie -- aka Auxiliary Blankie -- anywhere, and frequently forgets about it at bedtime, so it doesn't cause any trouble. It can be found at random spots throughout the house, sort of like an Elf on the Shelf, except softer.

Kiddo doesn't bring his blankie to school, so there's that. He just brings it everywhere else. Grandma and Grandpa's house. The supermarket. Karate class. Any sort of car trip requires the blankie, even if the trip is only five minutes. The worry is, he's been known to bring toys places and lose them. How hard could it be to misplace a green fuzzy blankie?

We nearly found out last week. I brought him to karate class, then we dashed home to get food before heading out to a doctor's appointment. Naturally, he'd brought his blankie and a toy. The toy came into the doctor's office with him. The blankie, as far as I knew, did not.

We managed to leave the office without forgetting the toy, came home and began our weekend project of cleaning out the playroom, because we are drowning in toys and many of them are baby-scaled. And next time I will pay someone to do that for me. I swear the toys multiply when we're not looking, like clothes hangers. Sometime around bedtime, kiddo began to flip when he couldn't find his blankie. And DH and I realized we hadn't seen the blankie all afternoon. Or the toy he'd brought to the doctor's office.


What if he had brought the blankie in? What if he'd hauled himself in my car afterward and forgotten to haul his stuff in with him?

What if his blankie and his toy were sitting in the parking lot of a doctor's office 20 minutes away? The increasingly icy, dark parking lot?

DH and I managed to get kiddo to bed, with the promise that we would keep looking, and then started to play "CSI." He had the blankie before lunch ... did he have it after lunch? He made me wrap the toy in the blankie so he could pretend it was a present. Was that before or after the doctor's appointment? It's not in any of the usual places he hides it in. Are we sure it's in the house? 

Proving that becoming a parent makes you take leave of your senses, we were convincing ourselves that DH needed to drive out to the iced-over parking lot and check. Fortunately, DH had a better idea. He dug through the massive pile of still-unsorted toys in the basement ... and pulled out the blankie, still wrapped around the toy from before. Where it had clearly been all afternoon.

I was delighted, and also wanted to smack my forehead a few dozen times.

Kiddo was ecstatically reunited with his blankie in the morning. I don't think we've had any incidents since then.

I know I should appreciate this whole blankie thing, and how adorable it is, and how in a few years they won't want to hug me or a blankie anymore. But that's a little hard to remember when we're all playing Blankie Hide and Go Seek at school time, or bedtime, or pretty much any other inconvenient time.

Still I hold out hope that they'll start being more mindful of their blankies. Because clearly, I'm not up to the task.