Sunday, July 22, 2012

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

I'm amazed sometimes at just how fast time flies. I know they say that time flies when you're having fun, but apparently it flies when you're not as well. It may not feel like it at the time, but suddenly that time has passed and you're not sure where it went. One day you find yourself looking back and realizing how much things have changed.

Bear is a prime example of this. Bear was first diagnosed with severe ADHD and ODD at a level rarely seen in a child his age in June 2010, so just over two years ago. Although the diagnosis merely confirmed what we already knew, it still sent us into a bit of a tailspin. How would we cope? Could we find the strength and the patience to be the parents he needed us to be? Would his life ever be normal? Would our lives ever be normal? Would he ever graduate high school? Would he end up in jail?

And then came the treatment questions. Should we medicate him? Should we medicate us? (Kidding, but it would have helped some days) Should we look into alternative treatments? If so, which ones? What should we try first, pharmaceuticals or alternative treatments? Or should we try them both at the same time?

Then came the appointments with the mental health counsellor, our family doctor, the psychiatrist, and the naturopath. The information was overwhelming, and we felt lost.

To top it all off, we had a newborn. "A lot of people with kids like Bear decide not to have another child," the clinical psychologist who first diagnosed Bear told us when we met with him to hear his verdict. This, as two-month-old Stitch snoozed peacefully in his car seat beside us. Gee...thanks.

A few weeks after Bear's initial diagnosis, we headed up to the in-laws' cottage for what was supposed to be about five or six days. TheODDDad was on parental leave for three months, so we had been looking forward to this little escape for a long time. Day one passed normally, with Bear being "Bear," which means there was a whole lot of yelling, threatening, and door slamming. Day two...same thing. Day three...same thing. And then we noticed that my father-in-law was getting a little cranky as well. Three days of Bear was wearing on him, especially once Bear started turning on my mother-in-law as well. (I should tell her to take it as a compliment -- he's meanest to the people he feels safest with.) My four-year-old telling his grandma that she's stupid did not go over well with my 70-year-old father-in-law. He held it in, but you could tell it was taking a toll. We left on day four.

Fast forward two years to the other day, and we're getting ready to head up to the cottage for a week. We've managed a week up there now that Bear's medicated, and things have gone smoothly, but I always kind of wonder if we're pushing our luck.

Suddenly the phone rings, and it's my mother-in-law.

"Laura," she says, "I've been thinking, and I don't know why you and the kids aren't staying up at the cottage for another week. TheODDDad can drive back home, go to work, and then come back and get you the following weekend."

I think my jaw just about hit the floor.

"Um...," I stammered. "Have you run this idea past Dad yet?" My mother-in-law has a tendency to make decisions and extend invitations without asking my father-in-law first, so I was expecting her typical "" when confronted.

"Of course!" she reassured me. "And he can't figure out why you didn't think of it either! It would do you and the kids a lot of good to stay up here."

So in just over two years we've gone from cutting vacations short to being invited to stay longer.

You've come a long way, Baby Bear. Momma's proud of you.


  1. Getting family to understand can be very difficult. Like you mentioned, the information is overwhelming. I'm so excited for you and your family- sounds like you have a good support system in place now. Enjoy your vacation :)

    1. You're right, Lindsay. The behaviour our kids exhibit looks a heck of a lot like brattiness to the outside world, so getting people to understand can be difficult. I have found education to be the key. As parents we need to learn as much as we can about how the ADHD/ODD brain functions so that we can explain why our kids act the way they do and have the difficulties they do. If we understand it, then we can help others understand it as well.