Homework

I HATE homework.

Hate it.

Hate it.

Hate it.

Especially MATH homework.

Why must it be such a fight? How hard is it to teach this child about numbers. Why do I continually lose my temper? Why! WHY! WHHHHHHHHY!

Ahh. I feel better.

Thanks for listening.

Morning Routines

Poor Nathan. The bus comes to our house at 7:30 a.m. this year, getting to school at 8:45 a.m. It takes me 17 minutes to drive from home, so I can understand at least a 45 minute drive, which is what he had when he started school in Kindergarten. But an hour and 15 minutes? Seems like an awfully long ride, especially when it is the same on the way home. At one time, his pick up was 8:10-8:15, meaning he could sleep until 7:30. Gee I miss those days….

Getting Nathan ready for school in the morning is still a major thorn in my side. I’ve faced up to the fact that he needs 45 minutes to an hour (not 20-30 minutes like little brother Eric) to be ready to go. He simply can’t cope with “busy” in the morning and too much input, especially before his meds kick in, renders him unable to do any little thing. And I do mean anything. This child can sit doing absolutely nothing when he’s faced with too much to do in too short a time period, even with me encouraging, yelling, pleading and bargaining for him to “move”.

I’ve finally convinced both of them to eat breakfast in the morning. It’s not much on quality (Cinnamon Corn Pops are Nathan’s choice du jour) but it is something. Lunch always includes a fruit and vegetable, so I am consoling myself with that. Sure, I’d like to be the Betty Crocker mom who lays out a spread of bacon and eggs or even cut up fruit and yogurt. The truth is, I’m just not that organized yet. (But, I’m working on it…) I’ve read that breakfast cereal (and simple carbs in particular) are actually not a great start to the day. My personal favorite is oatmeal and fruit but the kids won’t touch that one yet. I’d like to get a protein in them before school, not just the milk they drink. Maybe sausage and toast would “go over” – at least I don’t have to stand at the stove and babysit those – hello broiler!

Anyway, the routine as of now seems to be working, mostly. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack lunch, race to the bus. But, I think I agree with Eric’s sleepy comment yesterday “I’m not sure I can do another 200 days of this”.

Update

Well, it has been a little over a year since I last updated this blog.  When last we met, Nathan was in need of medication…..and here’s the update:

We started Nathan on a course of Concerta (18mg) which was a miracle drug for him.  Suddenly he could concentrate, learn, grow and made huge gains in the last quarter of 2nd grade.  He stayed on that level for a year, growing at every appointment, making good progress.  We noticed in the winter that he didn’t seem to be doing as well on 18mg so we asked for an increase to 27mg in the spring.  Again, a nice increase in his ability to function, grow and learn.  I even kept back an 18mg dose, just to see, and it was a nightmare.  We could tell instantly that he needs the 27mg.

It has become obvious to me that Concerta was the missing piece for his puzzle right now.  Without it, he is constantly eating (and not healthfully), has no control of his emotions and is generally frazzled all day.  With it, he can function at an age-appropriate level and even after it wears off (around 7:00 p.m.) he is able to keep himself “put together”.  Nathan has expressed that he needs his medication because otherwise “my brain feels all fuzzy”.  That is a big step for him.

We’re entering the land of Middle School this year – Grade Four.  Yikes. What happened to my baby?  He has been replaced by a kid with a huge appetite, a giant grin and lots of attitude.  I wouldn’t change a single minute!

Fast & Painful

If you’ve been following my random blogging, you know that we’ve been struggling with whether or not to try medication for Nathan. It has become painfully obvious that doing “everything we can” for him has to include medication.

We went to Celebration of Learning (aka Parent-Teacher interviews) last week to discover that any little distraction keeps Nathan from completing even simple math questions. He simply cannot stay focused when there is anything, exciting or not, happening around him. He’s been spiraling downwards for a few weeks but it is affecting everything now. Home, school, Eric. That’s the hardest part in a way – that his troubles are affecting Eric. It’s not bad yet, just some misbehaviour, but so unlike Eric to not listen, to back-talk, to whine uncontrollably.

Whatever.

Nathan and I headed to the family doctor (new guy, again) to take a second look at his now-healed ear infection. Husband asked about ADHD meds at the first appointment & was told “no problem”. So I went, medical binder in one hand, hope in the other and asked for medication.

The doctor? His “preference” is to have us go back to the pyschiastrist who originally dx Nathan & have him determine the first cycle. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! But, I just said “okay” even though I wanted to cry. I felt about a big as a churchmouse at that point. Here I am, finally ready to medicate & the answer is “no”.

So, I went through the phone calls that are required to get a pysch appointment. Fortunately, we have a Goddess of Mental Health on our side. She helped me get an appointment with our old family doctor, made a pysch appointment (for MAY!) and Thursday next week, we should be on a medication trial.

At this point, I’m not leaving without a prescription. Either he gets Concerta…….or I get Xanax.

Spelling

Though it is getting easier, I still consider Spelling homework to be one of the worst forms of parent-torture ever invented. Why is it that 15 words, most of which are less than 6 characters long, elicit such drama and trauma in my life?

Torture? Surely I jest you say. Oh no my friends. If you haven’t had the blessing of spelling homework yet, I say, “Just You Wait”. (Done in my very best Eliza Doolittle voice too)

There is no describing the joy of repeating each spelling word a minimum of 4 times, reminding the child to at least try the word another 16 times, standing over top the child and pleading with the child to just-try-the-word-already….all the while attempting to not lose your cool.

And, dare help you if you have a spectrum kid who knows all the “rules” surrounding spelling homework.  Take a peek at the list in my house:

1. You cannot use the word in a sentence. Period. I am totally serious here. The use of the spelling word in a sentence may cause said child to have a meltdown.

2. You must repeat each word a minimum of 4 times, each time essentially sounding out the word, where appropriate. And even when it isn’t, like with “the”, you should make an effort.

3. Capitalization, particularly mid-way through the word is acceptable. For example spelling “castle” as caSTle is correct. The point is to get the letters right. Duh Mom.

4. No matter how many spelling words there are to practice, 5 is the maximum number per night. No sneaking in #6 or (god forbid) trying to do all 15. When we hit 5, we’re d-o-n-e

And then, after all that joy and shouting, we finish the homework and move on to Reading time. And that my dear readers is a whole different post. Feel free to cue the theme from “Jaws” in your head.

It gets worse.

It seems that spelling homework *actually* produces results. No kidding. I have real scientific evidence. The weeks we battle through the homework, he gets at least 13/15. If we take on spelling no-holds barred, winner take all style – he gets 100%.

And this my friends is why I obey the rules and commandments. I am certain that Hell is a 24/7 session of spelling homework.

More Med Thoughts

At the risk of this becoming the main focus of my blog…it is what keeps me up at night these days.

Based on some on & off-line conversations, I realize that my biggest concern is that ADHD medication will somehow alter the “good” parts of my son.  I love his creativity, his effusive hugs and his ability to find joy in most everything.  I’m also really afraid that it won’t work.  I know Ritalin isn’t going to make him skate with both feet, hold a pencil with ease or make him understand a game like baseball. 

Yet, I wonder if it could?

Would the ability to focus on something (other than computers) for more than 5 minutes in a stretch give him the edge he needs?  Would it push him to try things that are hard and stick with it long enough to see the results of his effort?  Would it make him less prone to fly into a rage, hitting me & throwing things?  Would it make family time a little more pleasant?

I read an interesting website that posed the following question - Parents say they can “handle” their child on the weekend or holidays, so they take a break from the medication.   But, how much time do you spend saying “Nathan, I’m on the phone.  Nathan, stop bugging your brother.  Nathan, don’t climb on the furniture.  Nathan, are you listening to me?”  The website then posed this question – What do you suppose that is doing to your child’s self-esteem?

Therein lies my problem.  I don’t want to admit I can’t “handle” him.  I don’t want to say that his quirks and inattention are too much for me & that I can’t work with him to get over it.  Yet, for some reason I am also okay with yelling at him?  With losing my temper on a daily basis?  With being so overwhelmed at times I can’t see a way out? 

Nathan is a wonderful person.  He is kind, loving and smart.  More than anything, I want him to be successful, happy and independent.  And, for myself, I just want things to be easier.  For academics and athletics to come naturally to him, the way they do for Eric.  It is selfish, I know, wishing for an easier life.  I’m just afraid that the one thing my kids will remember about me……..is that I yelled a lot.  

I’d rather they remembered that I laughed.

Is it Time?

I keep thinking about blogging again.  Really.   It seems like I blog to get the pain out & I’m feeling it again these days.

Nathan is 2nd grade now.  He reads at an age-appropriate level, though not as well as some of his peers.  He spells well, but his handwritting really holds him back.  He has friends, but doesn’t “get” sports. 

He’s been a tough kid to live with these past few months.  Tantrums, anger, hitting, back-talking….nothing I can’t handle and yet, awful all the same. 

Neil wants to try medicating his ADHD.  I am undecided.  I hate the idea of putting my baby on medication, but yet he isn’t making the gains he needs to either.  We’ve been doing the GFCF diet, supplements and therapy up until now.  It truly changed his life. 

But now, I wonder.  Does he need another life changing moment?  Does he need to try “western” medicine?  Or, is it a phase?  Will he get better or worse?

I’ve asked his teachers for their opinion & our next IEP is coming up at the end of the month.  My cousin, who finally had his ADD dx as an adult, insists we need to try it.  His words    “I finally didn’t feel like a failure all the time”

That’s a pretty powerful opinion.  Have you got one? What has your experience been with ADHD meds?

A Break

No, not a blogging break, I think I’ve had enough of those….

My kids are giving me a break by going to Grandma’s for the weekend.  I enjoyed a blissful night of quiet last night wherein I refused to do anything.  (Well, I made supper, but that was it)

I didn’t realize how desperately I was in need of some ‘alone’ time until last night.  I couldn’t even get up the desire to go for a run, sweep a floor, fold a shirt….nothing.  I was even too tired to play on the computer.  (Now that’s exhaustion!)

I’ve got a huge “task list” to accomplish this weekend and I’m hoping to have a big city runaway too.  Might be possible, but if it seems like it will be more stress than it’s worth….I guess I’ll just stay home.  The fact is, I don’t really need anything.  A new pair of runners, since the new ones I just bought put my feet to sleep…but really don’t need stuff.

The children however………..need everything.  2 pairs of shoes each, adjustable waist pants for Eric, socks, t-shirts, winter clothes (I know it’s August, but I bought a Columbia winter parka in Minneapolis on July 1st), boots, school supplies and on and on.

I know I should take them.  I should.  But I fear there is too much to get in one trip & I need to think about each item.  I don’t know about you, but my guys are more the “grab anything” shoppers, not the “let’s carefully choose each item” shoppers. 

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.  This break is just what I needed.

Still My Baby

Nathan is such a cuddly sort these days.  Actually, he’s a bit of a cling-on.  Hanging on me, hugging, rubbing, snuggling….it’s almost creeping me out.

See, I don’t mind at home, but in public, having your 7 years old hang off your waist, is not so cool.  I hate to discourage him, but I wonder at what age is it that PDAs with your mother are not okay.

The thing is, I thought he’d be long past wanting to be “with” me now.  Long past wanting public hugs and kisses.  Long past wanting to hold my hand.  But he doesn’t.  He wants to hang out, he wants the reassurance of my touch, he still wants to be my baby.

But, don’t call him a baby.  He’s MUCH to big for that.

Ups and Downs

Nathan has a summer tutor again, though he’s only managed to see her 2x so far.  Trust me, it’s not my fault.

He was supposed to go again yesterday, but as it turns out, she cancelled all her kids.  Except mine.  Who was sitting, quietly, anxiously waiting for her to show up in my office.

After waiting a half hour, I phoned her cell…..to her credit I think she did feel pretty bad.  But, that was nothing compared to the crushing disappointment Nathan suffered.

His big eyes welled up, he climbed into my lap and buried his head in my chest.  He didn’t whine or cry or say a word, just tried to be a big, brave boy.  It nearly broke my heart.

The worst part for him was that a swim was on the agenda for the day.  So, I promised him a trip to the pool after work.  We got home to see the combine in the field for the first time but he still wanted to go swimming.  But, the pull of that big yellow New Holland was pretty strong, so we did a shorter swim & he got a ride with Dad later in the evening.

I can’t believe how much he’s grown emotionally over the year.  I guess he really isn’t a baby anymore.