Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't Poke The Mama Bear!

I’m really very laid back. Not a whole lot ruffles my feathers.

I’ve learned to pick my battles with myself, my husband, my children, and the world, for that matter. My social life has experienced enough attrition over the years (the fluff is gone) that it’s all love with my friends.

You know what you can’t do?

You can't mess with my kids. Period.

No one would mess with “Sissy”, my daughter. She’s tougher than I could ever dream of being. What attribute does she get from me? Once she opens up, you’re in for life unless you majorly F%CK it up. I’d give you another chance but not her.

My sensitive son is only beginning to understand some subtleties of relationships. He takes everything to heart, bleeds for others, and would give you the clothes off his back and my money out of his pocket if someone needed it.

Raising Matt was a daily challenge.

He’s also bright, charming, and vibrant but he’s different, too.

I knew it as did his teachers.

In first grade, Dr. C. said, “Our little lion doesn’t fit into this box called ‘school’. He’s a square peg. The problem is he has to get through it. In the end, he’ll be fine.”

“Are you holding him back?” I gulped.

“Heavens no. He’s too bright!”

Every time I’d see her over the next 13 years she'd ask, “How’s our lion?”

During 4th grade, our lion was officially diagnosed with learning disabilities that prevented his extremely intelligent brain from realizing it’s true capabilities, which is something we surmised all along. His mind worked differently. Imagine running on a treadmill set at 8mph, which is fast. It’s moving so quickly if you pause at all, you'd fall off. That's how fast his brain processed.

It also decided to mix things up at the same by changing the order of words and letters so when he saw “it”, “and” and “the”, they never looked the same the next time he read. His coping mechanism was to listen carefully because it was the only way to insure he'd catch everything, which became extremely unpopular with teachers who insisted on note taking.

I’m simplifying this but, in essence, this is what it was like.

We resisted medication in 4th grade choosing accomodations and modified nutrition first. In sixth grade, he had a complete breakdown in a “team” meeting that reduced him to tears. He begged for help. My heart was crushed as I watched him crumble before my eyes.

The only option left became medication because falling further behind wasn’t one with high school right around the corner.  It was a blessing. The moment you realize your child’s brain is “unlocked” is one of the happiest days you’ll ever experience but it’s not without issues.

He couldn’t eat.

He couldn’t sleep.

His physical growth was a concern.

His stomach hurt.

But he handled himself in social situations better.

His grades dramatically improved when he remembered to turn in homework.

This seemed to be our academic answer.

Doctors say kids usually grow out of the need for medicine. But when? He still wasn't growing. “Is it because he can’t eat?” we asked.

He waited to grow. We waited.

Then came the day he decided, “I’d like to try without it.”

“Ok.” Yikes! Not a great idea.

He began eating, gaining weight, and looking healthy. Yet we saw him slipping almost immediately. Finding a balance proved impossible. You can’t force pills down the throat of a 15 year old. I’ll admit to trying.

It took until mid-terms sophomore year for him to ask for them back. Defeated, his awesome doctor reassured him, “Matt, your brain just works differently. There’s nothing wrong with that.” God bless him.

Getting our kid, with attention issues and dyslexia, through high school became one of our greatest accomplishments (struggles) as parents. It took more support than I can accurately explain.

He was accepted into every college he desired and his confidence was brimming.

When he left for school, we warned him not to let anyone know he took medicine. In fact, guard it.

Freshman year, he was exhausted from not eating, little sleep and a weakened immune system due to lack of nutrition. He was sort of a mess. He decided to take himself off his meds, again. What he didn’t realize was the amount of sustained focus required for each and every class, tests, project and paper. He ended up calling the doctor himself to reinstate his prescription.

Funny thing about controlled substances, they can’t be faxed or emailed anywhere. A paper copy must be taken to a pharmacy. Identification is required. You can get it every 30 days and not a day sooner then the last time it was dispensed to you. And since he was home last weekend, I handed him his pills personally.

Today, he showed me the bottle with only 12/30 left explaining that someone stole 15 pills from his room.

It’s a crime to steal controlled substances.

It’s a felony to sell them.

My kid is slightly anxious by nature and already concerned about studying for upcoming tests. It’s not merely a crutch.

My solution is “It's against the law. Call the police!”

His idea is a 50 lb. safe because he doesn’t want to make waves and confront anyone.

I know. I know. He has to work it out himself but I’m still mad and I want someone to get in trouble.

It’s been a long road to get here and we don't need anyone else messing it up. We do that just fine on our own.

38 comments:

  1. You and your husband are such amazing parents for letting your son find his way, and helping him be the absolute best that he can be. It sounds like he is going to do just fine.

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    1. He's a work in progress as we all are. Thanks for the kind words, Samantha! We tried our best. I was very nervous his entire freshman year (last year). I believe he's managing. And sleeping with his medication.

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  2. So hard. So very hard.

    I'm glad you held off on medication for a while though - until it was clearly needed. As a teacher and dean of discipline, I've seen too many instances when parents resorted, at very young ages, to medicating for "poor behavior" and not for true chemical imbalances. It was a way for them to avoid dealing with discipline problems at home, and it just sloughed the issues onto the kid. Schools can encourage it at as well, but I've never seen that first hand. It always came from the parents. Horrible. On the other hand, it's important that children who are "square pegs" are able to feel like they can manage their lives - with various types of assistance. And they can!

    It sounds like your son has found a way to manage, and it sounds like he is learning about that big bad world at a rapid clip.

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    1. We left medication as our last option and used accomodations for close to three years to manage his learning. It was diagnosed that his brain actually functioned when his body was moving so he sat on a special squishy seat for grades 4-5 so he could move. He also sat front and center and received a lot of extra help (teachers staying after school to tutor him).

      He developed extremely good coping skills for school. He was never afraid to ask questions or approach a teacher for help. In fact, he was most comfortable when he (himself) developed a close relationship with his teachers. Even with his college classes now, he emails teachers with questions, asks them in class, and visits during office hours, etc. At least that's what he's telling me.

      He's upset about the meds because he knows what it means for him. I think he has a plan.

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  3. Gina, thank you for sharing your story. I definitely can relate to being a mama bear now that I'm a mama! My sister-in-law has two girls, each with their own unique challenges. Her oldest, 10, has aspergers and ADD. Her youngest, 9, has severe juvenile diabetes and ADD. I have seen her struggle so much as a mom with how to handle her daughter's challenges, and how to handle the closed-minded views of people she meets. Bless you, Gina! What an awesome mom you are.

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    1. Well, thanks but you do what you have to do out of love. I can say that there were/are many frustrating moments especially when they can't focus on work and it takes forever to get the smallest amount completed if they'd just sit still or whatever(stressful) but you keep reminding yourself to have patience and they're not being naughty! Because of the issues he had/has, I'm very conscious when people make off-handed and joking remarks about people with ADHD or someone displaying hyper behavior (and the accomodations they receive). Even one of my friends has and I usually respond, "You know, if they had a choice they'd trade places anyday."

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  4. Oh, goodness, poor kid... It is downright awful that someone stole his meds, criminal, and I'm seething for you and for him.

    That being said, it is a good idea not to tell other students that he's on meds. It is a bad idea not to tell his professors -- hubby is a college professor and he'd much rather know if he's got a student with a learning/attention issue than to not know. He does his best to adapt his teaching to the needs of each student (his largest class has 20 students) and if he has that info, he can do a better job of doing his job. I hope that makes sense...

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    1. I don't get mad often but I was LIVID! And he was pissed.

      He never told anyone but he probably didn't hide them well enough in his desk because kids (rotten as they are) go through everyone's stuff and take whatever they want.

      He talks to his teachers or in the large lecture hall classes, he's gone to office hours. I don't believe he had told them directly. That totally makes sense and I will run it past him. Managing himself is a full time job, let me tell you. However, he's as fun and charming as they come!

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  5. Oh Gina, I don't think you'll even know how much I needed to read this.
    I am so impressed at the way you and your family have dealt with the meds, and I am also so proud of your son.

    Right now we are dealing with an impending diagnosis for my 2.5 year old that will earn him a spot on the Autism Spectrum. This is week #2 of his bedtime anxiety meds, and I was so incredibly torn about giving them to him. I hope that our story ends up as hopeful as your is, with the exception that somebody stole your sons meds. That is so not cool. Oh, AND ILLEGAL, like you said!

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    1. It's a tough decision to make then you wonder if you're doing the right thing because you can see visible side effects. It's brutal, really. And I know the whole anxiety thing as well. He's talked us into the ER a few times in his early teens and the physical expression of anxiety is a real thing (physically painful).

      I wish you all the love and support we received. Best of luck with the meds.

      Totally illegal and my guess is Matt will have more than a word with the guy if he ever finds out who it was.

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  6. Thank you for this inspiring tale of fortitude and ongoing hard-won success. I've got a 10 year-old kid right in the middle of these issues and more (mood disorder as well as ADD) and we have had to go the medication route, but getting it just right can be so hard. He is a really bright kid who thinks he's stupid because he struggles so with focus, and it just breaks my heart over and over every time he screams "I'm an idiot!" Yes, people whose kids don;t have issues have no idea how hard it it. Rewarding, amazing, wouldn't trade our kids in for all the world, but still, TEN times the effort of raising an easy-going "typical" kid. (Oh, and did I mention my other son, this one's twin brother is autistic? yeah, I haven't really slept in 10 years.)

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    1. Varda! You have your hands full with both boys. I'm sorry!

      He has been on 3 different meds and many different dosages. Their bodies change, obviously, as they grow and some meds have different side effects that they are willing (or not) to put up with mostly related to ability to eat or sleep. He felt stupid sometimes (called it rarely however). Got his self esteem bumps from sports and us. My daughter was/is a breese so I was lucky there because raising him sucked the life out of us. I know the stress you feel because you just want them to be happy, well adjusted and productive and empathetic members of society. It does work out, believe me. There's a place for everyone!

      This is a saying I cut out of the newspaper when the kids were little and still hanging (and so yellow).

      “Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem
      so high that the rest of the world can’t poke
      enough holes to drain it dry.” ~Alvin Price


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  7. When you said on Twitter you were mad, I get it. How unbelievably awful and frustrating. I hope the college was helpful to you and that you were somehow able to get your son the medication he needs. And, for what it's worth, it sounds like you're doing a great job getting your son to be a responsible caretaker of his health. I hope things work out.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. For a college kid, he manages his health pretty well making his own appointments with his doctor at home, who I trust, and he's constantly at the "free" health center on campus. The rest of the family is of very hearty stock. He didn't get that from the gene pool, I'm afraid. Nope! When you lose the prescription or the meds themselves, they can't be refilled until 30 days from the last dispensing. He's SOL!

      YES! I said that on Twitter because it was giving me trouble at the same time. I hope you saw that I had to open a new account @ReallyGina1.

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  8. I really admire the way you approached all of this, and what a responsible young man your son is! You must be so proud! It sucks that he got his meds stolen. The safe seems like a good idea - smart kid!

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    1. Thanks, Stacie. I'd say he is only sometimes responsible and I'm usually proud but he's a constant work in progress as am I! It does suck and I'm usually the level headed let's figure this out person. I sort of went ballistic. He was the more rational voice this time/for once (?). The safe was a bright idea!

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  9. Well damn. I would be super pissed!! I want someone to get in trouble too. That is just RIDICULOUS!!! Humph.

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    1. It just totally hacked me off! We all work so hard to support his academic efforts and for something ridiculous and crappy to happen really stinks! Thanks for being in the fight with me. You'd be a great wingman, I'm sure of it!

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  10. I'm so sorry someone did this to him. My reaction would be the same as yours, "call the police!" but as a mom you do have to let them make their own choices and work things out. (will you remind me of that when my nine year old reaches high school and college ages?)

    A safe really isn't a bad idea. And it sounds like he is a great kid with a great mom.

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    1. Yes! I will remind you so I hope we are both writing long enough for that to come to be! We parents who have experienced stuff like this become great resources and sounding boards down the line! We can't do anything about it if he's not willing. He doesn't want to stir things up but he won't let it happen again, I predict.

      The safe was his idea so hopefully everything "valuable" is under lock and key! He is a great kid. Thanks for your kind words!

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  11. UGH, how stressful for your son (and for you!)

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    1. Thankfully it happened the week after mid-terms or he would have been royally screwed. Thanks for your comment, Gia!

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  12. This blew me away. I had no idea. I wish the medication didn't make him so sick physically. What an arduous journey. I would never ever mess with your kids. Or you-- you're a beloved mama bear. God bless you all.

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    1. Most medication for this has negative side effects, mostly loss of appetite and sleeplessness. Yes! It was a long journey. He's very happy at this very moment and hopefully his studies are going well. You can mess with me...I'm a softy. Not my kids though. I'm fierce where they're concerned! Thanks for your kind words, Christie.

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  13. What I like is how he's played a role, how you've let him have an active role in his medication (at least at/by a certain age). It's the openness that is admirable. And yeah, someone stealing the pills is just...wrong and I'd want someone accountable too. I'd go for the safe though (but then you don't want whoever stole them the first time to come back and get angry over the safe). I had my birth control pills stolen once (stop laughing! That chick must have been desperate!). I'd only taken a few. The doctor called in a one time script that didn't affect the refills I had on the original one. Maybe the dr could give just the amount he needs until the time to refill the other?

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    1. At some point you have to give them some say because it is their body and it doesn't feel good. It takes a whole lot of conversations and rationalizations. It's a daily thing and I still worry everyday even though he's away.

      he wanted to kick someone's ass as much as I did but he's thinking long term. He can probably talk the doctor into a new prescription but the pharmacy won't fill it. He's between a rock and a hard place. Saw the safe today and his valuables all locked up.

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  14. Pissed isn't even the word that's what I'd be!

    Rotten kids stealing his meds. I'd be taking names and kicking asses if I were you.

    I talked to hubby about it asked for his advice him being a former cop and all and these were his thoughts.

    He believes you and your son should strongly consider reporting it. This is what his immediate thoughts were.

    The thief will know your on to him and will not likely strike again if you do. The insurance company may replace the pills with a valid police report. And it affords you son protection. What if the thief was caught selling those pills and tries to implicate your son?

    Me I'd just hunt the little bastard down and kick his ass.

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    1. Believe me. I wanted to and involve the president f his house. He said he wanted to handle it.

      These kids are selling it. If they get caught, they are (1) expelled (2) charged with a felony. Good luck then.

      We talked about this today before I left. He was still adamant. He said if he caught wind of who it was, he'd kick his ass! He would to. Doesn't like to be messed with but who does. This is when his toughness and skill from wrestling comes in handy.

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  15. I didn't realize I was so naive, but for some reason I am really shocked that a student would steal someone else's medication! It just seems really cold. And I would definitely call the cops, but that's easy to say when I'm not having to live in the situation.

    I liked your comment at the beginning about having nothing but love for your friends, because the fluff is gone. I wrote a post last year about being done with female friendship and it definitely hit a nerve. There are a lot of women out there who don't have time for the fluff (or the mean) anymore. I may not have many friends, but the ones I do have are real.

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    1. They sell it. It's very common but it never happened last year in the dorm. He wants to handle it and everything is now under lock and key.

      I had a four hour car ride to think about your comment about friends. When you are young and making them, there is so much surface stuff and small talk. Then you began to form real bonds, then deeper connections. As your kids get older you really don't have the physical or mental or emotional capacity for anyone that doesn't add value. You are so focused on your husband and children and time is precious. I truly believe in quality over quantity in just about everything.

      Thank you fr your comment, Azara! Loved your post as you know.

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  16. I am at the very beginning of the dyslexia journey with two of my younger kids. It has completely thrown me for a loop and I am learning more than I ever thought I would need to in educating my children.

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    1. Best of luck, Stacy. Stay on top of schoolwork, communicate with teachers and once "officially" diagnosed, make sure the school district follows through. I became almost line a job with the amount of time it took with the school. Parenting is parenting so you do it with love. I will say that you have to remember to be patient especially when they are learning to read (sight words, too). It is frustrating and will take them much longer. They develop great coping skills, though! Keep talking to other parents who have experienced this as well!

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  17. What a terrible thing for this to happen. I hope your son's safe idea works out for him so this doesn't happen again.

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    1. Me, too! Thanks for visiting, Vanessa!

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  18. I want to punch the person who stole them, probably his roommate. Though a guest could also

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    1. His roommates are sweet guys. My guess is another guy in his house (75 guys live together). He's on guard now and I think he will punch the guy if he finds out. For now, safe installed in closet!

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