From the moment my son was born, we were in awe of his curiosity and his determination. Although he was only days old he seemed wise, and curious, he held his neck up for silly amounts of time and he was always really watching what was going on around him.
As he began to move around, the mischief began. He was constantly up on the furniture, climbing the doors, stealing food from the fridge, flushing important items down the toilet. We spent a small fortune on baby proof locks, which he would work out before we did, or he would just use sheer strength to rip them off at a mere 16 months old. When he wanted something, he was unbeatable.
I remember once he was trying to take breakable items out of the cupboard, I locked the cupboard door and took away the key. Next minute he had pushed a toy firetruck over to the bench, climbed on the toy firetruck to get a screwdriver, and then was using the screwdriver to pick the lock. He was not even two!!
We also had our share of troubles, when it come to sleep training. No "normal" methods seemed to work and we went off to sleep school. This worked for a little while but it was long before we were having trouble again. We enlisted the help of a private sleep nanny who after 4 days put her hand up and said " I cant help you there isn't anything left to suggest"
Basically we knew our child was full on, but we didn't realise he was different until he started kinder..
When kinder came, we had a teacher whom was quite highly strung to put it politely, she often made comments about Sebastian play fighting or not sitting still. One day she told me she was horrified that he was saying the word P-O-O (yes she spelt it, didn't say it) over and over. We thought she was just not suited to our child and didn't read too much into this.
When it came to starting prep, we realised quickly that our child was behaving in a different way than the other kids. He would hide under shelves, or pull his hood over his face, he didn't want to go to school, he seemed to be anxious but we thought he would settle in just fine.
3 months in, his teacher mentioned that he was behind the other children academically. We were shocked, this child had always flown through his milestones, and outsmarted me on the daily, but he was struggling at school? How? His teacher mentioned we should see a paediatrician. After a series of confronting surveys about his behaviour, completed by us and the school. It was confirmed our child had ADHD.
My child had ADHD. This was a hard pill to swallow, I didn't really even know that ADHD existed. Wasn't that just an excuse for naughty children? Were we just terrible parents who were too soft on our child?
At the same time there was a glimmer of hope in the diagnosis, because I was suddenly googling "How to discipline an ADHD chid" Rather than "why is my kid acting like an asshole?"
The months that followed were so incredibly hard, we tried diet modification, essential oils, vitamin supplements, added exercise and even renovated his room to a more calming environment. Nothing worked so we started medication. This was life changing for our child at school, and honestly the sole reason he is able to read and write fluently.
There has been side effects and much trial and error to get the right dosage of medication but I'll save that for another time.
There have been many public outings where comments have been made by random onlookers. Just recently I forked out $380 to take our family to the "School of Rock" musical. We armed ourselves with our arsenal of things to get us through, we also allowed our son to bring his ipad, when he gets overwhelmed we find the ipad works wonders to distract him for all of the overwhelming things going on around him. Part way through the show, my son became antsy, he was struggling to sit still, i was feeling very calm and assisting him to remain focused and allow his sister to enjoy the show. We ended up letting him sit on the floor in the back row of the theatre with his ipad on silent. Staff advised us that he was not allowed to do this. We ended up trying for a little longer. then leaving the show. To which I heard an older lady beside me say "That child wouldn't behave that way if his mother wasn't so lazy" I wish I was lazy. A simple family outing is exhausting for us!
I told my husband on the train ride home and he was shocked that I hadn't reacted. Normally I would get very defensive or my parenting and school this person on how hard it is to be an ADHD parent. But not long before this I had begun to realise that I don't need to explain my son to anyone. I don't need to tell strangers than I am struggling because being an ADHD parent is hard. My son doesn't need to hear me saying that he is hard to parent. ADHD kids get so many more negative comments on a daily basis, "stop that" "don't do that" "sit still" etc.
I need to advocate for my child first and foremost and what others think of me along the way is not important. It's taken me a long time to realise this, maybe because deep down I thought I was not good enough or doing something wrong. When we look at how far our boy has come, we know we are doing something very right and raising a deep and kind soul, who determined, resilient and exceptionally clever.
His ADHD is not a reflection of me as a parent, but the way I help him deal with his ADHD certainly IS.
He doesn't fit in your box and neither will I.
I am not perfect, I have days where positive redirection is replaced with yelling and frustration. I have anxiety attacks wondering if my child will turn out ok. But I have realised if I keep the focus of each interaction, on him and what he needs from me, rather than what random people think of my reactions to his behaviour, then their reactions become a moot point.
Your opinion on my parenting truly, finally doesn't matter and that is freeing as fuck.