Yes. Long post title. Matches the long list of resentments I’ve been building up this fortnight.
People often tell me I’m very blunt. They don’t understand me too well.
I’m honest. I will respond with as much honesty as I require from others when they’re dealing with me. That’s why I have friends who think I’m blunt.
See, if I was being blunt…. really blunt. some of those people probably wouldn’t be friends anymore!
I have had so many occasions in the past fortnight when I have just SCREAMED on the inside at people’s ignorance, small-mindedness, self-righteousness, disrespect and stupidity. These people have no IDEA how incredibly tactful, diplomatic and patient I have been. Blunt? I think not.
So here, I will vent.
My husband and I have struggled, stressed, cried, ranted, advocated, fought for, defended and sometimes just collapsed in a heap with hopeless exhaustion time and time again over the years in raising our children. Yeah, parenting is tough gig, but multiply that by 100 and you might get an idea of what it’s like for parents of kids with extra issues. Parents of neurotypical children have NO idea.
And don’t me wrong. I’m probably getting a good dose of karma. I remember years ago thinking, ‘Gosh, when I have kids there’s NO WAY they’re going to trash my house like these kids’ when I visited a friend who had 2 boys and walls full of missing plaster. HA!
I won’t even begin to list our home’s ‘repairs’ list.
And being a teacher, and one with a pretty good rep for getting the best out of kids, no child of mine was ever going to get suspended…..Ahem. *munches on humble pie*
And I also remember being ignorant enough to think ADHD was over-diagnosed. Hmmmm. Well, GREAT WHOPPING DOSE OF KARMA THEN ARRIVED!
And we struggled, but now finally, 75% of our household is diagnosed ADHD, and it seems karma’s lessons have been learned, as things are better than they’ve ever been. And I’m actually really grateful, in a lot ways for all it has, is and will teach us. It’s made my husband and I, in our opinion, really good parents. And really patient, with the kids.
The part I’m struggling with now though, is patience with critical onlookers.
There’s no room for lazy parenting in an ADHD household. We don’t smack, we never have. We communicate (ok, sometimes we yell – we’re human), we reason, we set boundaries and secure them, we listen, we forgive, we problem-solve, we reflect, we try again. When needed, we apologise. We show respect, understanding and compassion. THIS is how we love our kids unconditionally.
And you know, if our approach is wrong we’ll happily wear the consequences, because this is the only way we can see ourselves parenting.
And despite thinking all those things, all those years ago, I was NEVER, EVER so rude as to tell any parent I knew what I felt they might be doing ‘wrong’ with their kid. (And just as well or god knows what karma would have dealt me!) So much for me being blunt.
My rage (which I’m feeling dissipating even as I vent it here, *breathe*) has stemmed from family mostly.
Over the holidays we tried a different approach (wrote about it here) and it’s working. The kids have both been happy this first week back at school, and the youngest in particular had an incredible week. My inbox was filled with emails from all his teachers positively raving about his beautiful behaviour and gorgeous interactions with staff and students alike. He’s been happy to go to school and is excited about going next week.
So if I was being blunt, I’d have told various people over the last fortnight to go jump.
It started with a family member visiting from overseas, who thankfully didn’t stay in our home, absolutely losing it at me to the point where I had a finger being stabbed in the air 2cm from my face while she ranted. The rant was all about the fact that my children walk all over me, treat me, my husband and everyone else with no respect, run riot and do as they please, manipulate us and have us twisted around their fingers. And how if she had them, (she has no children) they’d try it once but they certainly wouldn’t do it again (read: they’d get a hiding). I explain too much. That’s all they get, ‘explained to’ all the time. And I’m a fool because they just get what they want anyway. Bah!
Had I been blunt……
Instead, I asked her what it was that had triggered this at this moment. It was the fact that moments earlier my eldest (who had just had an argument with his brother and then got bitten by an ant at the park, and therefore wasn’t in a great mood) had told me he wanted to go straight home instead of walking across to the shop opposite the park to get an icecream, as I’d promised we would when we were ready to leave the park. The relative felt that this was a power play on his part to spite his brother. Then when he’d slumped his shoulders and become sullen over being told that he’d survive the ant bite and we’d go home shortly, but would get the icecream first, she lost it.
That triggered the rant.
I asked her how he’d walked all over me? He was walking ahead of us, without word of argument, to the shop?
‘Yes, and now he gets icecream! she cried.
I explained that actually he doesn’t like icecream, so he was doing this simply because I’d asked, for his brother’s sake. What he wanted was to go home, and we weren’t doing that, …. so how did he get away with anything?
No answer, just a throwing up of the hands.
From there the week had my husband and I hearing similar from other family members, all of whom had parented with a far firmer hand.
My husband, who is halfway through a psych degree, did his best to point out why we don’t assault children, and why we are taking the approach we are, and in doing so copped ferocious responses and criticism. I came home in the midst of one of these heated discussions and again found myself defending our position firmly, but politely.
And underneath it all I felt incredibly angry.
I have worked with literally thousands of children over the years. I have highly developed skills in working with particularly difficult children. I request them in my classes, and when I don’t, I find I get given them anyway.
I’ve run courses with groups of THE most difficult kids in a school, taken them on an excursion with only the Chaplain (much to the Principal’s distress – he wanted 2 adults to each of these kids) and brought them back, only to hear that the school had received a number of phone calls from members of the public who had encountered our kids and been so impressed with their manners and conduct.
I write IEPs for the school in my role as LSC and train teachers in how to deal with tricky kids and get the best from them. I am recognised in my school and district as (and I quote) an ‘expert’ in student behaviour.
My husband is currently getting HDs in psychology and shares my views on raising our beautiful kids.
Our paediatrician raves about how lucky our kids are to be in the family they’re in. Our kids’ psych and their developmental specialist have both told us we are wasting our money on their services as they have nothing to offer us that we aren’t already doing for ourselves and doing well.
And yet…. somehow our families believe that we should put aside all of this expertise. Ignore every specialist and everything we KNOW is best practise…… and follow their methods, as THEY know how to raise kids. After all they each raised 2, (with the exception of the family member who didn’t raise any).
Somehow, that makes sense to them.
I was a little blunt. I told one person in question, ‘If I wanted to pour a concrete slab, do you think I’d be wise asking a colleague in my school for advice, or do you think I should go to X, who’s worked in the industry for 40 years and is considered an expert in their field?” It’s the same thing.
My husband finally said, ‘You know, in 10 years time if the kids are in trouble and haven’t turned out well, we’ll graciously say, ‘You were right’, but in the meantime, let us parent our way, just as you got to.”
We are both angry and upset right now. We understand why we parent the way we do. It is planned, considered and mindful. And rather than supporting us, our family just seem to be making it harder. Not always, mostly they’re terrific, but then we get patches like this, which reminds us that underneath it all, they disapprove immensely.
Ironically, they don’t even bear witness to the hardest parts! They just have no idea.
There are many days where it’s just plain exhausting and hard. Think parenting a ‘normal’ kid is hard? Try parenting two ADHD kids, one of which displays ODD traits – see how that takes it up a hundred notches. And THEN try doing THAT when you’re ADHD yourself.
Tell me again, how we’re doing a crap job. I DARE YOU!
We are seeing results. The important kind of results, like a child who despaired about the future just a couple of months ago, becoming more optimistic and feeling better about themselves. The same child being more affectionate, melting down less and for shorter spells, and apologising faster. And the same child again beginning to develop positive relationships with staff and peers at school. It’s been a long journey, but we’re getting there.
We also see two children developing a stronger bond and sticking up for each other more and more. And have these children tell us everyday that they love us, that we are the best parents in the whole wide world and they want to be with us forever.
Doing a crap job? I don’t think so.