My dad knows better than to comment even a tiny little comment about my parenting style. He recently lived with us for about 9 months and 11 days and witnessed little Beckett at his mental worst.
Little Beckett has been on Prozac for about 8 months, and suffers from all sorts of anxiety. Welcome to our family, little buddy. We’re all a raging bundle of nerves wrapped in seemingly normal exteriors.
Pre-Prozac, Beckett would have nightly meltdowns that lasted approximately 3-4 hours during which he would:
- Run away from us
- Throw things at us
- Try to hit/kick us
- Scream that he hated us
- Scream that he wanted to die
- Rip things off the wall
- Alternate between rage-crying and laughter
- Eventually melt into a heap of exhaustion and cry himself to sleep
Guess who else cried herself to sleep? Guess which 2 parents felt completely overwhelmed, confused, terrified, exhausted, and downright burned out?
After 3 other children, we knew this wasn’t normal behavior, and maybe we could have surmised as much even if this had been our first, since people just wouldn’t procreate anymore if this was to be anticipated.
Fast forward through therapists, doctors, a neuropsychiatrist, 2 attempts at ADHD meds, and lots of reading. We were left with the diagnosis of a learning disorder (Mild Functional Anomia), but no clear indication of ADHD. Apparently, learning disorders, ADHD, Anxiety, etc all go hand-in-hand much of the time, or can mimic each others symptoms, making accurate diagnoses hilariously fun.
Learning his diagnosis seemed a hell of a lot more interesting for the doc that charged us $2300 to do the testing, especially since we were still left with a child who was losing his fucking mind every night.
I began to really suspect anxiety after he permanently attached himself to my side, including at night, and began to refuse to go to school.
The horrible results of ADHD stimulants (which exacerbated his crazy symptoms) solidified my need to try a different approach, even though he didn’t show signs of anxiety to anyone outside of our family.
Thank the Jesus they were willing to believe me and let him try Prozac.
Writing that sentence made me feel guilty. Even though I just explained our entire hellish situation to you, I feel like I will always be judged by people for ‘throwing my kid on medication because it’s the easy way out’.
Want to know how he’s doing on Prozac? Awesomely. Amazingly. Life-changingly.
Is he drugged into submission and barely coherent? Yep. That’s the way we like him.
JK. He’s totally himself, only with that terrifying, uncontrollable part of him knocked off. Terrifying for him, too. At the same time he was yelling and kicking at us, he would be screaming that he didn’t know what was happening to his brain, and why did he feel that way? It was absolute torture.
He is now the same person he always was: funny, adorable, dancy, creative, sensitive, snuggly, inattentive, noisy, bullheaded. He’s still anxious at times. He just doesn’t lose his shit to the point where we’re able to see why parents resort to hitting their children. I hated the feelings that would bubble up in me after the second hour of the night had passed in screaming, pleading, crying.
All of this to give you a little glimpse behind the scenes of what some parents go through with their kids. Boy howdy, parenting is hard without these – shall we call them hiccups? It’s downright excruciating with them.
Since everybody in the world without kids likes to judge how parents are raising their kids, it’s common to hear phrases tossed around that criticize the exact thing you happen to be doing with your children.
Even worse than kidless adults are older adults who have long finished raising their kids- kids who apparently were all perfect soldiers. I imagine they never talked back, and if they were they were smacked on the behind! But surely they didn’t wait for their parents to ask them twice, or, gasp- three times to get their shoes on, or else they were sent to their room without supper! And god forbid they cry about something instead of sucking it up and brushing it off and being stoic!
I suppose if you’re raised to not have emotions or your own opinions, you’re going to keep everything else hidden deep inside of you as well.
I’ve heard several million times about how lazy my generation is for medicating all of our children. We obviously don’t feel like disciplining them, and pediatricians are handing out Ritalin like Halloween candy, so why not?
Despite my sarcasm and bitterness, which is super fun to indulge in sometimes, I know the entire older generation, and even many kidless adults, understand. I know there are people out there who get it- who understand that not everything is black and white, including child-rearing and brain meds.
But when I do hear those sweeping generalizations, as I did one day in a retirement community, here is the conversation I fantasize about having:
Me (skipping up to the old man who just can’t believe all parents throw their kids on medication these days): I do! I do! I’m one of those parents. Boy, and do I wish I had known to medicate the other three, the last 18 years would have been P.I.E.
Old Man: Well, why’d you put your kid on medication? Because he doesn’t pay attention?
Me: Nope! I don’t care if he can’t pay attention, I can’t pay attention either. Too many video games.
Old Man: Well why, then?
Me: Oh, he was upset. He cried and then that upset me, and I don’t want to create a home of bad vibes. Also, did you even know that if you give them Ritalin, they can focus on their video games for up to twice as long, and then you don’t have to interact with them at all?
Old Man: In my day if our kids cried. We would have handed out the spankings.
Me: Sp- the what? Oh, SPANX! I love those! I own several pair.
Old Man: No! A good whack on the behind, that’s what they need. Have your husband do it if you can’t.
Me: Oh…. no, no, no, no, no. If I ever did that, my son would be upset. Besides, our generation is all divorced, too. Marriage is haaaaaaaard.
Old Man: You gotta show them who’s boss! You can’t let them jerk you around. You gotta discipline them and teach them manners.
Me: We teach them manners. After school, after soccer, and before Young Entrepreneurs Club, they go to Socialization class, where they learn how to not offend people from different classes, ethnic groups, sexual orientations, gender identifications, and piercing preferences.
Me (skipping away): Here comes the nurse with your 16 medications! Enjoy!