Our Son, The Science Experiment…Part Deux

Joe and Me

Two months ago, hubby and I decided to take our son who has ADHD off his medication for the summer. We did this to see if he would eat more, sleep better, and perhaps experience a growth spurt and to see if he was, after three years on the medication, any more capable of working on his own to control some of his impulse and attention issues than he was when he was 8. In short, we turned our son into a science experiment. We were so concerned about our decision that I even blogged about it, which is how we arrive at Part Deux. Joe’s first week without his Concerta medication was rough for the entire family. We vowed that the second week we would try harder to remember Joe’s struggles, to cut him more slack, and to be more patient.

It hasn’t been easy, but over the course of the last eight weeks we’ve definitely seen some changes. Joe eats a lot more now than he does when he’s on his medication, and he sleeps later and more restfully too. Although we haven’t weighed him, he does seem to have filled out a bit, which is encouraging. We’ve found that he is now more capable of self-regulation. If something upsets him, rather than the time- and energy-intensive histrionics of the past, he is able to calm himself more quickly. The medication has given Joe a baseline understanding of how his brain is different, and the knowledge he’s not a bad kid but instead merely one whose brain just doesn’t give him enough help with attention and short-term memory. If he’d never been on the medication, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience what is “normal” to other people. Without that crucial piece of information, he’d still feel lost about how to achieve what society expected of him. Now that he understands how it feels to be in control, he can work towards achieving those results both with and without the medication. This is huge for him.

I’m not exactly sure how this experiment will end. If I could write my own ending, though, Joe will have grown a few inches and packed on a few pounds over the summer. He will realize that he’s not a bad kid but that he has some unique challenges. He will understand that the medication helps daily life run more smoothly for him, but that it doesn’t define him and that he’s still a wonderful person without it. As for the rest of us? We will have earned a much greater appreciation for how difficult things can be for Joe and have more patience to help him get to where he needs to be in his life. Two months ago, I was hoping this would be the right decision for our family. Today, I’d be willing to place bets that this experiment will be a great success.

Taking A Chill Pill

Joe likes skiing as much as Luke likes shopping for school supplies.

This morning I took Luke shopping for school supplies. The entire time, I could not stop hearing Andy Williams singing It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Occasionally, while dropping a notebook or box of crayons into the cart, I would sing a few bars. Luke was not amused. I kept picturing that Staples commercial with the dad cruising through the back-to-school aisles gleefully with his shopping cart while his kids looked like they were being dragged to the gallows. That one just brings a smile to my heart. After we had all the supplies purchased, Luke and I went back to my car where the temperature gauge registered a balmy 86 degrees at 10:30 a.m. This ridiculous summer of hot, hot heat is starting to get to me. I continued to sing Christmas carols all the way home. Summer may be my favorite season, but this one has been rough. I’m ready to move on.

Just how much am I ready to move on? Tonight, I spent about an hour researching ski passes, ski lessons, and equipment rental for the 2012/2013 ski season. I really am dreaming of snow. You see, this is the year that Joe gets his free Colorado ski pass from the state. Yes. The brilliant and beautiful state of Colorado offers a free ski pass to all 5th grade students. Okay. Okay. Technically, it’s three free days at each of 21 ski resorts, but that’s still a lot of free skiing. I could not be more excited about this. Joe is not quite as thrilled as I am. You see, Joe is not fond of downhill skiing. At least, he thinks he’s not. His father and I contend that he simply hasn’t had the right ski experience yet. This year, we aim to change that. I mean, the kid loves snow, never gets cold, and can snowshoe or cross-country ski for hours. He’s ready. We’ve begun preparing him for the inevitable.

“Joe…this is the year you get your free ski pass,” I reminded him as I researched ski lessons.

“I don’t like skiing,” he whined.

“What don’t you like about it exactly?” I questioned.

“The going fast downhill on two little sticks. The riding up too high on the chairlift. The falling. The wiping out.”

“This year we’re going to get you ski lessons. You will go every Saturday for four weeks. By the end of those lessons, you’ll be good to go. Luke will take the same lessons so you won’t be alone,” I assured him.

“I don’t care. I don’t want to do downhill.”

“Joe…you know we do three things in this family. What are they?”

“Hike, bike, and ski,” he sighed. “Can’t I go for 2 out of 3?” he asked.

“You can,” I quipped, “right after you turn 15 and are old enough that we can leave you without a sitter for the day and go off skiing without you.”

He skulked off. See….it’s cooling off around here already. I can almost smell the snow.