Where’s That Parenting Handbook??

I’m finding it harder and harder to be a parent. It’s not like I ever thought it would be easy, I just don’t think I ever realized how difficult it could actually be. I have three boys who are so very different from each other and each one has such highly specific needs right now. I often feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions and it’s hard for me to focus on one kid and his problems when another kid and his problems come up.

I’m going to write in more detail about each boy later. For now, here’s a run-down of what is on my plate:

We have decided to move forward with having him tested for ADD/ADHD. I have been quite reluctant about doing this for several years now, but a lot of factors have come in to play this school year and have brought it to the forefront of my mind. The more reading and studying I do I about it, the more I see how beneficial it would be if he is diagnosed because then we can move forward with medications and solutions. I want my son to succeed. At this point, by trying to ignore these symptoms, I’m facilitating his frustrations and failures. My job as a parent is to help my child, not hinder them. So… off to the doctor we go.

Aiden also is kind of a hypochondriac. A few weeks ago he was doing this massive study at school on OCD and is now convinced he has it. He jumped up and ran away from the dinner table one night because he said he was having OCD thoughts and his reading says when that happens, you run away from it. ~sigh~ I’m sure he does have a small amount of OCD (every body does), but he convinced himself it’s worse than normal for him. So not true. I think he’s forgotten about it, though. This week he is convinced he has asthma.

Aiden is a worrier. He worries and worries about needless things, and they escalate until he has a complete breakdown. Last night was Cub Scout night. The boys were in the van, waiting for me to drive Aiden, when I realized Aiden was sobbing in the back seat. I got him to calm down enough to talk, and everything came out in a rush. “I hate being poor! We have this stupid van from 2004. Why can’t we ever have anything new? Nothing we own is ever new!! Why do we have to spend thousands of dollars on mine and Parker’s health? And I need more money in my lunch account because my lunch time is so late and I’m so hungry that I’m eating all of my sack lunch for snack and then I’m hungry at lunch time!! Why do we have to be so poor??” Wow. So I spent some time calming him down and talking to him about each issue he said. Aiden is taking too much of his environment to heart.

Dallin is a sweet kid, a good helper, and hard worker, and really smart. But boy, does he have some emotional issues. He can snap in a second. Yesterday he got an answer right in class, so he got to pick out a pencil. He didn’t like the pencil (it was the only one left) and said it was dumb. So he got very angry and started throwing the pencil. He says he threw it 10 times. The last time it went across the classroom and hit a little girl, who promptly got up, left the class, pulled out a cell phone, and called her dad. Her dad called the principal, who then went to the classroom where Dallin was under a desk, kicking and screaming because he was mad about this pencil. Ches and I already had an appointment with the principal and vice-principal about Dallin, so we got to hear all about this right after it happened. Again, all his teachers and the principals and the office staff say he is a complete sweetheart. He just has these emotional outbursts for a few minutes. Then they get him to calm down, and he’s perfect for 3 or 4 weeks. Then the cycle starts all over again. It’s so frustrating.

A few months ago Parker woke up in the middle of the night with the worst case of croup any of my kids has ever had. Nothing I could do made it better. So I actually took him, at 1 am, to a children’s all-night urgent care. He was given a breathing treatment and sent home. The next day, I was talking to one of my assistants about it, and she insisted on calling her mom and stepdad who have a clinic for children. They deal specifically with breathing issues and allergies. Stephanie’s mom checked Parker out thoroughly, and the nurses ran several tests. We found out that Parker actually has allergy-induced asthma. He is allergic to olive trees and just about every kind of grass (bermuda, ragweed, etc.) that we use here in Arizona. He is allergic to the area of the valley we live in. (He is also allergic to shrimp and cod, but not to dairy, like we had wondered.) Stephanie’s mom gave us medication and a nebulizer (it has a cool dragon mask for him to breathe into!). We got more prescriptions and bought children’s Zyrtec. He’s doing much better, overall, breathing wise. But we have to keep right on it.

And most of you know that for the last several years we have been dealing with Parker’s digestive issues. He is very small for his age — extremely short and underweight. He just doesn’t eat (turns out food just makes him hurt!). He had rectal prolapse. We spent a year and a half giving him Miralax every day and watching him to make the rectal prolapse correct itself so we didn’t have to have surgery. Right before he turned 5, after another check-up with the GI specialist, we took him completely off dairy for 2 weeks. The immediate response in his body was amazing. He doesn’t have to have Miralax every day! He is allowed small amounts of dairy, but we really watch his intake. Like I said, he’s not allergic to dairy. But he obviously has an intolerance. So he is allowed a piece of cheese pizza or a bowl of mac-n-cheese. Sometimes we even let him have small bowls of ice cream. For the most part, however, he doesn’t drink dairy milk (we buy Silk at Costco now, just for him), he isn’t allowed yogurt or string cheese for snacks, and we try to find non-dairy frozen yogurt for him to eat if we go out someplace special. We make an effort to limit the amount of dairy he has, and it has made all the difference in the world! He’s finally gaining weight!! He’s grown a couple of inches!!

I know, he’s not my son. But we have issues, too, you know! Ches broke his elbow a couple days after Christmas and it has been really hard for him. He is not in a cast of splint of any kind. It was a non-displaced fracture, meaning the bones didn’t move out of place. That’s good because it means no surgery. So Ches has been in a sling. He’s still in a lot of pain and he doesn’t feel like he has any strength in his grip. He’s getting a lot of movement back now, so we know he’s healing. It’s just slow. It’s especially been hard because he can’t play his trumpet. Oh! Did I mention it’s his right elbow, and he’s right handed? He can’t write or type. And don’t forget… he’s a band and orchestra conductor. He has to do only left handed conducting, which is hard to do. He’s used to having both hands to be effective. I have had to take over a lot more duties around the house and with the boys because Ches just can’t do it. I had to drive our entire trip to California (not fun for the pregnant lady!!). I had to cut the wood and help waaaay more than I would have liked with Aiden’s Pinewood Derby car (but hey! Aiden got 1st place!). I have to do more chores. And honestly, I’m missing out on a lot of sleep because I’m so worried about bumping into Ches’ arm during the night. A queen size bed isn’t that large when you have an expanding belly and your husband has a broken elbow. I also really miss little things. For example, Ches hasn’t yet felt the baby move. He can’t just reach over with his arm like he did when I was pregnant with the others. And the other night I woke up with a massive anxiety attack. In the past, Ches has always been there to rub my back, help calm me down, etc. But with the broken elbow, he has to stay back because I’m violently shaking and I could seriously hurt him. I miss just the feeling at night of his arm sneaking around my waist when he’s sleeping. It’s killing me to not have that physical contact when he’s RIGHT THERE.

So that’s about it. We are all crazy in this house. We all have a bajillion issues going on. And I’m feeling completely stressed out on a regular basis and like a total failure because I just can’t keep up with it all. I just want to go to bed and sleep for about a week.


5 responses to “Where’s That Parenting Handbook??

  1. I think, with all that you have going on, you deserve a bit more than a week of sleep! Keep trying. That is all that is asked of you. Love you!

  2. Boy, do I recognize my son in your descriptions of your 2 older boys. Parenting one challenging child is hard enough, but it sounds like you have a lot on your plate. Getting your son tested for ADHD/ADD may help answer some questions about his behaviour. As well, once you get a diagnosis, the school may be able to put measures in place to help your son. Plus,
    for some kids, it is reassuring to know that they are not “bad,” but have extra challenges sometines because their brains are wired a bit differently than others.

    We found there were certain things that triggered our son’s emotional and angry outbursts – it often wasn’t evident at the time, but we have gradually identified situations and behaviours that we know often lead to a meltdown e.g., growling or hissing; more talking back and rudeness that usual. Knowing the triggers doesn’t automatically put an end to the behaviours but it has enabled us to work with our son on developing coping mechanisms.

    Good luck. I am blogging about my own experiences as a parent of a challenging child at Mistheword12.wordpress.com

  3. *hugs*
    there’s nothing I can say that will take this away from you but if you could just know how much I support you and pray for you … hang in there, lady, you are doing a great job and this is only temporary.

  4. Oh my gosh… I am not one to use terms of endearment to adults, but I just want to say, “Oh, sweetie, I know it’s hard, but it’s going to be all right.”

    I’m going to talk a little bit about Aiden and Parker. I’m not ignoring Dallin, it’s just that I have the least experience with what you and he are going through right now. With Aiden, diagnosis and medication should be a big help. In any assessment, make sure you mention the anxiety (hypochondria) and crying, because that might need to be treated differently in addition to ADHD. Now, I hope this is something that you are not affected by, but we have been dealing with shortages of my son’s particular ADHD medication. Anyway, if Aiden is given a prescription, you might want to check if there are any known shortages in your area and start him on something with good availability.

    With Parker, I’m not sure what exactly is going on with him and dairy, but if it’s lactose intolerance, be aware that it could get worse with age. Right now it sounds like he is okay with a limited amount of dairy — as he gets older, that small amount of tolerance might diminish or disappear entirely (as happened with my son). Again, this is just a mother’s anecdote, but it would have made life a bit easier if we had known to watch out for that. All of a sudden, things that used to be tolerated with no problems just aren’t anymore. Also, as Parker grows up and becomes more independent (i.e., out in the world, responsible for his own food decisions) make sure he is aware of the “hidden dairy” in foods he might not be familiar with. Case in point: my son thought French toast batter was only made with eggs and learned the hard way that the better stuff is made with eggs and milk.

  5. I just wanted to add a bit to Karen’s comments, also having dealt with the ADD/ADHD stuff. It can be extremely frustrating trying the new medications. The first one might not work the way you want it to. Try it but don’t give up if you don’t like it. Also, make sure you get input from the teachers. We found they saw bigger changes than we did with medication, simply because kids are in a much more structured environment at school then they ever are at home. And, like Karen mentioned, make sure you mention the anxiety, some of the medications for that can “take the edge off” (as our dr puts it) of the ADD and he might not need one of the “heavy duty” medications.

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