It’s been a really bad week. How bad of a week? Let’s put it this way: The parrot has learned the following new phrases:
“It’s NOT ME!!!”
“I didn’t do it!”
“Are you mad at Puck?” Actually that last sentence isn’t new. Several years ago, whenever the parrot was in trouble, she would blame the cockatiel (Puck.) The cockatiel passed away in 2004, and so the parrot ceased to blame her for life’s woes. We assumed this was a sign of respect during our mourning period. However, the tension in our house has been so awful lately, that the parrot has resorted yet again to deflecting blame onto a poor ghost.
She wasn’t the only one. It was all (in turn) first daughter’s fault, second daughter’s fault, mommy’s fault, third daughter’s fault, dad’s fault, mommy’s fault, the parrot’s fault, mommy’s fault, and finally the dead cockatiel’s fault. Screaming, yelling, anger, frustration. Everyone was the misunderstood martyr. Everyone sat in their room and cried. No one gave love and no one could calm down enough to receive love.
It’s the side of ADHD that people don’t really like to talk about. Special needs should bring special moments: triumph, rising above (fill-in-the-blank), and other sorts of movie-worthy hoo-ha. Cue the Rocky theme music. ADHD also brings a whole heck of a lot of pain and anguish. If we were ordinary, instead of extra-ordinary, we would be happy. There wouldn’t be screams like this, and anger like this. If we were ordinary, instead of extra-ordinary, we would sleep. There wouldn’t be emotional explosions over noodles and misplaced napkins. Children would be encouraged to speak their minds, rather than told to stop talking, please just stop talking, please don’t make a sound. Yelling has become so common in our house, that our children know to shut our windows when the volume gets above a certain level, or lasts for a certain duration. They know how worried their mother is about what the neighbors will think about our family life.
What were we fighting about? Don’t know, can’t remember. But it must have been really important at the time, because we are all exhausted.
On a positive note, we met with first daughter’s art therapist (school provided.) The therapy room is amazing, exactly what you would expect of an art therapy room. Group art area, corners with comfy colorful bean bag chairs, areas for filing things, areas for displaying things – it all looked very professional. She listened to us, and had a lot of insight to share. We described our daughter’s OCD tendencies and she commented that these behaviors are also quite normal for ADHD. She also commented that one of the big challenges for these kids is learning how to be flexible. She gave us an example: During an initial meet-n-greet with our daughter, she asked her to draw anything she wanted. First daughter, predictably, drew a near-perfect rendition of Sponge-Bob Square Pants (groan). However, much to first daughter’s outrage, it was only “near-perfect” and not perfect. First daughter wanted to rip up the whole thing and start all over again. After all it wasn’t perfect, it couldn’t have been worth anything. The therapist tried to help first daughter look at it from other perspectives. She asked her to keep the drawing – and think about how she could change it, improve it.
Thank G-d for experts. If I had been there, I would have been pestering my daughter about her choice in models: Why Sponge-Bob? Why not something more dignified, like a superhero or space alien? I should probably just be grateful that she didn’t draw Justin Bieber. Anyway, there are obviously times when mamma should not be in the room.
The art therapist then described how our daughter’s therapy sessions would go. For two hours each week, she will work on incorporating her feelings into some form of art. Then she will present her art (and her feelings) to her peers, and receive feedback. She will listen to others do the same, and give them feedback on their art. It’s based on an incredibly successful program at Ziv Hospital in Tsfat, and all of that sounded quite organized and professional to me. I left feeling very empowered – Rocky theme music style. I was glad that the school seemed to really have its act together.
Except we as a family don’t have our act together. I’m not getting any satisfaction from the laisezz-fairy approach that I always desired. I didn’t want my kids to have rules, per se, I just expected to “naturally” know right from wrong. I wanted them to feel so much love that they wouldn’t ever need to yell, or be angry. Believe it or not, when first daughter was two years old, we actually taught her to say “I want a conversation” during her tantrums. And then, per this fabulous plan, we would merrily sit and discuss our issues. Work everything out, and then embrace. Gag me with a spoon. Seriously, little children are too young to understand complicated concepts like why you should refrain from picking your nose in public, and why it’s not reasonable to expect a chocolate popsicle, simply because you screamed for it.
The laisezz-fairy’s glittery butt will be catapulted from this house starting tonight. Actually starting tomorrow. Hopefully. We’re going to get a white-board and make a schedule, just like every special family should have. At 6:10 we will get up from bed. By 6:30 we will have gotten dressed and brushed our hair. At 6:30 we will eat breakfast. At 7:00 (breakfast needs to be enjoyed) we will start preparing our lunches. At 7:20 we will get on our shoes. At 7:30 we will go out to kindergarten and school.
I never wanted to do the list thing. I imagined that the list would never end (it doesn’t.) It’s kind of like laundry that way. I didn’t want to lose my freedom. But I’ve decided that I’m not interested in part-time love… just as long as we’re together… MORE MUSIC!