* An Explanation

Thank you to everyone who has expressed their sympathy and support over the last few days, it really means a lot to me. Although last week was emotionally taxing, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole situation right now. I had a very good talk with Herc’s counselor on Friday, and it seems that we’re all on the same page. Turns out she was wondering how to broach the topic of medication with me, because she is well aware of my objections to it in general. And while we’re not all jumping on the kiddie-drug bandwagon just yet, we have agreed that it’s time to pursue a formal evaluation and diagnosis for our dear Hercules.

For all you anti-med folks out there, I feel I owe you an explanation. After all, I have been standing on my anti-medication soapbox for some time now, and feeling pretty damn righteous about it, too. But one thing I have learned in my lifelong pursuit of a radical unconventional life is that you have to be careful or your rigid adherence to a certain worldview may turn out to be just as counterproductive as any mainstream worldview if you’re not willing to acknowledge that sometimes the other side has a good point. Rigidity is never a good quality in any belief system, says I. If you recall, my worldview began to flex a little when I read this post.

So while I still believe that ADD/ADHD are overdiagnosed and there are millions of over-medicated kids in our under-funded schools who are victims of our pharmophile culture, I must also concede that there are legitimate cases of ADD/ADHD and perfectly sound reasons to medicate those children and plenty of parents who owe their sanity to the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals.

As for my personal journey with Hercules, I’m having to come to grips with the fact that Hercules has been given every opportunity for success and we’ve reached a plateau. I tried the Nurtured Heart Approach and I think it’s excellent and it certainly helped us manage Hercules’ behavior better. Martial arts has provided him with an opportunity to succeed in an area that comes naturally to him and to reinforce the basics of discipline and self-control that we’ve been trying to teach him. His counselor has helped to rebuild his self-esteem after a disastrous Kindergarten year. This year in first grade Hercules has a fantastic teacher who has been exceptionally diligent in her efforts to accommodate his needs and she goes out of her way to provide him with every opportunity to succeed.

And yet, in spite of all of these things our beloved Hercules is still struggling to survive, especially in school. Perhaps one could argue that the entire education system is inherently flawed and structured against kids like Hercules and that is probably true. However, I also think that what is being asked of Hercules is not at all unreasonable. His ability to sit still and focus on his schoolwork has been the least of my (and his teacher's) concerns, because I feel as though I can make up the difference at home in terms of his education, so no matter what he’ll learn to read and write. But what Hercules cannot seem to do is to interact and socialize with his peers without becoming angry, defensive, aggressive, and downright violent. This is a problem that is wearing everyone down because there just isn’t a lot of room for compromise when other children are being endangered.

This year is considerably different from last in that I’m dealing with teachers and administrators who genuinely love Hercules. They see him as a very charming, affectionate, funny, articulate and intelligent little boy and they are almost apologetic when they have to call me to report his most recent offense. These people are not out to get him, they are doing everything in their power to help him and he still can’t seem to pull it together, at least not consistently. As a result, Hercules' self-esteem is once again spiraling downward because he is beginning to believe that no matter how hard he tries, he can’t do anything right so he must be stupid.

All of this has forced me to consider the possibility that perhaps no amount of coaching, counseling, discipline, or therapy is going to bring us the breakthrough we’ve been praying for because maybe, just maybe, Hercules can’t help it.

It goes against everything I believe to propose such an idea. I’m a strong believer in personal responsibility and self-empowerment. But it has finally occurred to me that if I continue to deny this possibility, I may also be denying my son the only chance he has to experience normalcy and success. And that is why, dear readers, I am considering medication. And by god if medication can provide him that, then I will thank the universe every day for the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals.

One thing this journey in parenting has taught me is that sometimes the most difficult decisions that we are most resistant to may very well turn out to be the greatest blessings. Such is the beauty of the paradox of life.

I’m sure there will people who are critical of my decision and who may feel as though I have betrayed my principles. I am prepared to defend my position without apology because I have exhausted all the options and I’m in a place where I feel completely comfortable with my decision.

This is only the beginning, mind you. The first step is to get a solid diagnosis, and the testing and evaluation period could take weeks or even months. Herc’s counselor is going to try to help us speed up that process as much as possible, but there’s only so much she can do. But you know how the saying goes – a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

Meanwhile, we will keep dancing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you the best in this very long journey. My nephew had a very similar K-2nd grade experince that ended with testing, diagnosis and reluctantly, medication. The first 4 months of 3rd grade have been amazing. Still the same bright, spirited boy we adore, but with the ability to focus, confidence, and for the first time, friends! Again, hang in there!

1/16/2006 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Keep on truckin', miz renee. Certainly this isn't an easy path, but I applaud your continued dedication and devotion to something that I can only imagine to be draining on the mind-body-soul for both of you.

1/17/2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger momma-yaya said...

I know exactly how you feel about meds, and exactly how it feels to be considering them after many a year on the anti-med soapbox. I think it is a part of the Universe's plan for us that we will continually be confronted with opportunities to be turned upside down and shaken out a bit. Questioning what we thought we knew, or what we thought we wanted, that's balance.

1/17/2006 9:30 PM  
Blogger Renee May said...

thanks everyone! this has definitely been an intense learning experience. but the very possibility that Hercules could have a shot at success makes me want to shed tears of joy.

1/18/2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger fiercelyfab said...

This was a great post Renee, I admire your resiliency and patience--I take my hat off to you mama...

1/23/2006 12:28 PM  

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