Stop Judging and Start Loving

Often it is too easy to judge another persons parenting ability without fully understanding the method behind the madness. Cause you know.. the old saying goes “it takes a tribe to raise a child.”

“Don’t judge a person without full understanding of the situation. Just because you don’t agree, doesn’t mean that you are right.”

Lately, something has been getting on my nerves.. and that something is the stink eye from ignorant and impatient people. Like I have mentioned before, my five year old son Lucas has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). As quoted from the Royal Children’s Hospital ADHD is a developmental problem which results in poor concentration and control of impulses. The three most common symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity and overactivity. The disorder can impact upon the child’s ability to learn and develop their social skills, and also family functioning.

There is no denying that my son has a clear case of ADHD because most days it is a battle zone. This is no exaggeration either, the kid has aged me by about ten years. I have greys on my head with a style that you would best find on a skunk. My poor husband.. the top of his head is almost as smooth as our ten month old’s butt. Depending on the day, it can even develop a nice shine (sorry love). So even though without a doubt he tests our boundaries and pushes our patience, we still love him unconditionally and can sympathise with other parents who are equally having a shit day with their children.

Going out in public is our hardest test. Most recently, I took him to the cinema for a treat as we had been quarantined to the home following a gastro outbreak. We had a ‘chat’ before we went into the cinema, and again when we took out seats. Looking back I was pretty calm about it all, but gut instincts were telling me that it wasn’t going to end well. Lucas gets this glazed look in his eyes where it kind of looks like no one is available to take your call. Anyways.. within twenty or so minutes of the movie starting I was packing the bag and taking the pram out of the movie. Then there was this high pitched scream that followed me. It was obvious to everyone around me that I was getting anxious, my eyes were watering, and my voice was beginning to crack. All I got in return from the other patrons was judging eyes and filthy scowls. It can be be debilitating when you are being judged with such contempt.

Then there are the times where we go do basic chores at the local shops, or we go for a trip to the maze of Bunnings, and very rarely a play centre. This is where we get the other end of the spectrum. We are firm but fair on him.. at all times. Under no circumstances do we give this kid sugar as it just perpetuates his symptoms more. Whilst shopping we were telling Lucas that sugar was poison.. well it kind of is.. and then this elderly woman said right to my husbands face “God will get you!” It made him do a double take because surely a stranger wouldn’t say that, but when he asked her again what she said she again said to his face “God will get you!” Thankfully husband has a thick skin and he calmly said to her “No he won’t.. ”

Back to the sugar, having to tell people that your son is not allowed to have lollies, cakes or chocolate, people look at you sideways like you have two heads. Honestly what is the big deal? At times I have to be a hawk eye on Lucas as he will casually invite himself to take part in the festivities you find at birthday parties. He has drunk half consumed milkshakes with my back turned, ate crumbs from the floor, and I have even had parents come and ask me if they can buy him food (for example hot chips or a muffin). Now I see the kindness.. I really do.. but really? Watching what he eats is extremely important for us as food which contains high amount of sugar causes him to have an allergic reaction. Could you imagine the outrage if I was to give a child nuts and they have a nut allergy. Not so nice is it?

So here are three reasonable things to consider when you see a child that is causing grief to their Mum, Dad or Carer.

  1. If the parent is visibly upset, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they are okay or if they need a hand. I was once helped by a store cleaner and it honestly saved my sanity.
  2. Keep your bad looks and opinions to yourself. You have no idea how shit this can make another human being feel. Again the saying goes “it takes a tribe to raise a child.”
  3. If a parent is having a go at their child, don’t think that they are an awful parent. They just might be at the end of their tether because their kid has been an incessant nag.

So that is it my loves.. hopefully that gives you a little insight about what it is like in the home with an ADHD child.

Much love

Melanie xo

 

How do I turn this damn thing off?

It’s been quite a while since I posted last, unless you count my response to some trolling. Mel has been gently requesting that I write something, and gently reminding me that “it’s supposed to be our joint blog but I do all the work.” Code for “I really want you to blog, now, yesterday, last week even.” My usual response is along the lines of “I’ll blog when I’ve got something to write about.”

It seems that time has come for me to get off my blessed assurance and crack to it. It does take quite some effort for me to write, while words seem to flow freely from between my lips, getting them out of my fingers is a whole other story. Feelings of inadequacy and the overwhelming sense that it needs to be perfect usually prevent much from happening. Let it be know, it’s something I’m working on, and most likely always will.

Lately, something has been happening in our home. Something that I’m not proud of, and I am trying to change it. I’ve been losing my cool with our eldest son, Lucas. For a while there, it was almost as though if he coughed, I would tell him off, yell, send him to his room or, dare I say is, give him a smack. I’ve only ever smacked him on the backside.

Am I proud of it? No.

Did I grow up with the same kind of discipline from my parents? Yes.

Do I hate them for it? Not at all.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m happy about getting my butt smacked, because lets face it, no one really is as a kid. You hate it. Dad and I were having a talk about discipline once, and he mentioned that when we were smacked as kids, it was more frustration on their part than anything. And it is absolutely true. There are only so many times you can politely ask someone to put their shoes away before you start to sound like a broken record. And trust me, both Mel and I try not to sweat the small stuff, but take it from me, that shit adds up. Real fast!

Everyone has their own opinions on parenting, and it’s all well and good to have opinions, however, what might work for your family and circumstances might be completely the opposite for another. Is it OK to lose your cool at your child? No, I don’t think it is. Have I done it? Yes. Very recently in fact. I did it such a monumental fashion that I’m sure the neighbours were filling out father of the year nominations for me. Did it make me feel better? Not one little bit. I actually felt worse.

It was weeks and weeks of pent up frustration that all boiled to the surface in one spectacular explosion of a verbal tirade. One that ultimately says a heck of a lot more about my attitude towards Lucas in particular, than it does about his actual behavior. The end result? ‘Daddy, can I take a truck to bed?’

It all kind of hit me. What kind of role model was I setting for him? Blaming my son, who is 5, for my lack of self control. It just started to sit wrong with me. I won’t lie to you, he is sometimes not an easy kid to look after. He is highly impulsive, doesn’t listen, does whatever he pleases, regardless of what we ask him, and some days, he just will not stop talking. It has a tendency to wear you thin after a while.

As most of you are well aware, I do a bit of reading, not as regular as I would like. After some talk about leadership with one of my business mentors, I came to a simple solution. If I want to lead my team to victory, I first need to lead my house. And to lead my house, I need to lead myself. Real leadership comes from leading yourself and others will naturally follow you. Not by telling people what to do. That defines a boss, and not someone that I aspire to be like.

What does this all have to do with parenting? Well, my young padawan, parenting is just another form of leadership. While you might not be directly engaged in ‘parenting’ (ie, 1 on 1 time with your child), everything you do, in and out of the home is parenting. Its 24/7, 100% on all the time. It’s hardly a job, it’s life. Whether we like it or not. Once the kids are in bed and you put your feeit up for the evening, crack a stubbie and snap off a couple of rows of dairy milk, yup, you’re still parenting.

Recently, I came to the realisation that I just didn’t want to be like that any more. Not just for my own sake, but absolutely for Lucas’s sake. He

deserves better than that.
So I have started to make a committed effort to lead myself better. To be the kind of father my boys look up to, and aim to be like. To be the kind of man that if we ever have a daughter, I would be happy for her to marry.

It hasn’t been easy, some days are harder than others. The things I do are pretty simple though. I usually stop what I’m doing, take a few breaths, remind myself that it isn’t his fault, he’s just a kid and he is wired a little different than most, and really, does it matter in the grand scheme of things?
He’s got a great personality. Loving, caring, zest for life and can find wonder in the smallest of things (a dead jumping spider for example), so I reckon that it’s a damn good start.

As parents, our kids will always do as they see us do, not what we say. We need to make sure our actions match our words so that we don’t create confusion in developing minds.

I’m by no means a perfect father, nor do I ever think I will be. I am however committed to improvement.

I’d love to hear what tips and strategies you guys use to keep calm during those stressful parenting moments!

Cheers,
Chris

 

 

ADHD: What it’s like in our household.

I honestly don’t know where to start with this post.. as trying to navigate from start to finish is a slightly overwhelming task for me. So to give this blog a bit of context I’ll explain to you some ADHD facts as quoted from the Royal Children’s Hospital website.

Lucas was a bubbly baby, with a big personality.

‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a developmental problem which results in poor concentration and control of impulses. The three most common symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity and overactivity. It can impact upon children’s learning and social skills, and also family functioning. Every 3-5 in 100 children in Australia have been diagnosed with ADHD and it is far more common in boys than girls.’

When Lucas was born he was the perfect newborn. He slept, he ate and he barely made a fuss. It wasn’t until solids were introduced where I noticed that something was a bit off. He was very sensitive to textures, and I’d spend more time cleaning up his vomit than actually feeding him. So to make it easier for everyone (mostly me), he practically ate the same food just to ensure that it stayed down. Can you believe that even today he can vomit caused by a certain texture? Not that long ago, he threw up on himself because he had berry seeds in his smoothie.

Just before his first birthday I introduced him to Gymbaroo, which is a program specifically designed to educate parents on child’s development. At Gymbaroo there is gym equipment for your children to move, climb and develop their strength. There is also a play mat area where each week the educator discusses topics of children development. This includes balance, coordination, fine and gross motor skills, speech, auditory, visual processing and body awareness. I noticed that Lucas didn’t flourish like the rest children, and he was always ‘that’ child. You know.. the one who squeals, snatches, unable to participate and is so disruptive. In the end it was just too stressful to continue, and we had even won a term which we barely attended because in the end I’d be turning red with frustration.

Taking Lucas to parks, playgrounds, play centers and birthday parties were and still continue to be a stressful event. When he was around two/three years old he was terrorizing another child, trying to snatch their bike away. On my way to sort out the issue, the mother grabbed him by the shoulders and screamed ‘NO’ in his face. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Have you heard of the fight or flight response, well I am neither of these. I freeze! Always!

Another incident occurred in a doctors surgery, where I was trying to calm him down and he just wouldn’t listen to reason. The doctor picked him up by the ankle and held him upside down. Again, I froze, looking dumbfounded. Looking back it at it, I should have approached the mum and addressed the doctor about their behavior. Because, lets face it, we are the adults and we need the control.

Our biggest issue to date with Lucas is his impulsivity. Last year, when I was heavily pregnant with Flynn, Lucas went on a walkabout. We have a tall Colorbond fence, and Lucas decided to open it and take our pets for a walk. After an hour of searching for him, we knew we had to contact the police. There is a massive golf course that runs through our suburb and my fear was that he would decide to go for a swim and likely drown. Once the police arrived, they had a helicopter on standby in case it was needed. Thankfully I always ensure that our pets are tagged and this is how he was located. A lady called me to say that not only did she have our dogs but also our son who invited himself in for a cold drink of water. He was having a grand old time.

It wasn’t until Kindergarten where someone else noticed his behavior. During his first term of school, his teacher suggested I take him to a pediatrician just to ensure that everything was okay. Eight months later, due to a very long wait list, he was finally assessed. It only took 45 minutes to diagnose him with ADHD. But we weren’t really given much, except to attend a seminar on positive parenting. When we were approaching the final week of Kindergarten , we spoke with the school on how his behavior could improve as he was scoring as a below average. Chris and I learned that WA does not have funding to support children who have ADHD. Soon, hopefully within the next two years, we will be relocating back to the eastern states.

There is still room, lots of room, for improvement from our part. We try so hard, but our own ignorance and frustrations taint our ability to be patient with him. It’s a big learning curve for us, and we try hard to ensure that he is on the right track. He does not consume processed or refined sugars and he eats a mostly plant based diet. We supplement magnesium to help him control his behavior. We try and give him a structured day so he knows what to expect, we give him small goals to complete so he feels accomplished and has something to work towards. We try to avoid negative words like don’t, didn’t, isn’t and wasn’t. Most important of all though is that we tell him we love him.

 

Much love

Melanie xoxo

 

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