What You Should Know About My Decision to Medicate My Child
When you look at my child, the chances are you don’t know that she has a secret struggle.
You probably think that she talks too much, and that she talks too loud.
She is the child that interrupts when the teacher is talking, and the one that doesn’t pay enough attention to instructions.
You may have even seen her acting like the class clown, more interested in making her peers laugh than actually doing as she has been asked.
No doubt you’ve noticed that she fidgets and gets out of her seat when she should be engaging in something sedentary at her desk.
Many of you may also have witnessed my big six year old in the throes of tantrum, the likes of which you haven’t had to endure from your own child since they were three.
You may see these things and think that I’m a shit parent, or that she’s a spoilt brat.
I know you do…and I’ve learned to be okay with that.
Because, you don’t see what I see.
You don’t see the child with so many ideas running through her head sometimes that she can’t stop them from popping out of her mouth. She doesn’t want to stop them – she is excited to share them with you.
You don’t see the child with a curious mind, who wants to know and learn everything…if only she could stay focussed on the teacher’s voice and not be distracted by the whispers of a friend, the tapping of a pencil, the ticking of the clock, the beautiful bright picture on the wall….
What was that the teacher said?
You don’t see the child that has struggled so hard all day to make sense of her surroundings, to fit in, to do what the teacher wants her to do and maybe get that much needed encouragement or pat on the back, that when she sees she can finally fall apart, knowing that she is safe and that I will pick her back up.
You don’t see the child that was larger than life and twice as loud during the day laying in my arms at night, with big fat, hot tears rolling silently down her cheeks that pool in big patches on my shoulder as she describes how ‘everyone else in the class knows what to do except me.’
You don’t see me trying to holding onto her tightly, desperate to keep the pieces of her fragile self-esteem together.
You don’t see my tears joining with hers to make even bigger patches on my shoulder.
You can’t even begin to know how hard it is to watch your beautiful child doubt her self-worth, to compare herself to other children unfavourably, and start to dread going to school because she feels ‘stupid.’
Well, it’s been a long eighteen months of paediatrician visits, interviews with teachers, and psychologist tests, and the professionals have told me what I knew all along.
She isn’t stupid. In fact, she is far from it.
She has ADHD.
Which doesn’t mean that I’m a shit parent. And it doesn’t mean that she is a bad kid.
It’s not an excuse. Or a label.
It means that she finds it hard to focus, to pay attention for any period of time, and to quiet all the thoughts bouncing around in her head long enough to know what the teacher expects of her.
It means that she can become easily overwhelmed with the activity, and stimulus around her.
It means that she learns differently to your child.
And it means that she needs extra help.
So, we’ve made the decision to trial medication – to try Ritalin.
It’s not the easy way out.
It has taken us weeks, and months of soul-searching to make this decision.
We feel that we owe it to her to see if medication can make it easier for her to navigate school, and to recuperate some of that lost confidence again.
We feel that it is important that she is confident, happy and able to learn. A good school foundation will pave the way for a positive attitude to learning and school for her future.
We have done our research and we are doing what we think is the right thing for our child.
So next time, when you hear that a parent is medicating their child please don’t judge that child or their parent negatively.
You may not see that child as well as you think you do.