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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sans Meds

Tucker has been off of his ADHD medicine for a week now. The last medicine he was taking was Adderall (which Alec had nicknamed "Madderall"). During the last few weeks, Tucker had numerous meltdowns at school and home. He had become increasingly aggressive,angry, and defiant. No one could pinpoint his triggers so we constantly walked on eggshells as to not "poke the bear" - a term Tucker had heard about himself and had begun using as justification for his behavior.

Tucker had begun coming to my classroom as an escape. The last time he came, he was followed by our school counselor and one of our special ed. teachers. We eventually got Tucker out of my room into the hall where he crawled under a table and growled at us, refusing to get up. I hugged him and told him jokes which made him laugh (I'm hilarious!), but he still wouldn't get up. A class was out in the hall taking a restroom break and my heart was breaking for my boy. Eventually, I went back into my room and let those who are educated, trained, and experienced in taking care of students in this situation, take care of my sweet Tucker.

That situation (and a come-to-Jesus talk) finally opened my eyes. My coworkers, friends, and family, really do want the best for Tucker and our family. I need to let go and let those around us - our village - help us take care of him. Since that day, I felt a weight off my shoulders. I knew Tucker was in the best hands at our school. He still had meltdowns, but he didn't come to my room again. The amazing team at my school did their jobs and took care of us.

Just before break, I met with my principal and our school psychologist. They asked me how Tucker was as a baby and growing up. Oh man. Can I just tell you about this kid? He was the best baby! In fact, he made parenting look so easy that we had another right away! The thing is, he always was and still is, so smart, funny, compassionate, silly, and sweet. It's just something had gotten in the way of his true self. We got to see our real boy just before bedtime when we played games or colored then snuggled, read books, and told jokes.

My principal asked - what if Tucker doesn't take the medicine? Well we tried that a couple of weeks ago and...let's just say - I promised his teacher to never take him off of it again! But the thing is, he was only off the medicine for 3 days. Maybe he needed to be off of it longer to work itself out of his system.

So being the wise parents we are, we took him off of his medicine 3 days before Christmas! And guess what? He was pretty wired and bouncing off the walls, but he wasn't angry. If he didn't get his way, he was quick to recover. He didn't have meltdowns that would last hours. The word "hate" was rarely heard.

And he began eating. He ate like he couldn't stop. He was so hungry and we let him eat anything and everything he wanted. When I asked if he wanted breakfast or lunch or a snack, the answer was always "yes"! His appetite was back!

Tucker's true self has been shining through more and more each day. Sure he still has moments of defiance, but not anywhere near what he had before, and his anger and aggression have subsided quite a bit. He hasn't had to sit still and focus very long so we still need to have conversations and make a decision about how to proceed once school starts.

So what now? A dear friend of ours gave us the name of a new child psychologist who we'll be seeing in a couple of weeks. Of course, Tucker has a new medicine to try (Concerta), but the pill has to be swallowed whole which has led to an enormous amount of frustration, anger, and hopelessness. But I'm not convinced the answer is in another pill. We've put so much hope and faith into every pill he's taken over the last 2 years only to be discouraged and disappointed over and over. With each pill, we just keep losing our boy, and we just want our smart, funny, compassionate, silly, and sweet boy back, for good.





Sunday, December 11, 2016

Struggles and Frustrations

Lately, I've been thinking about the movie Terms of Endearment. More specifically, I've been thinking about the scene when Shirley MacLaine is running around the hospital yelling "GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!".  I feel like I'm yelling but no one is listening. No one is helping. No one is fighting as hard for my son as I am. The catch is, I don't know how to fight. In my head I'm screaming, but nothing is coming out of my mouth except pure frustration.

Tucker is struggling. We thought going to a new school would give him a fresh start to let his personality shine and to make new friends. Our plan is backfiring - big time. What's going on? Is it his ADHD? Is he consciously being defiant? Is he sabotaging our efforts so he can go back to his old school? Is there something else? If so, how do we figure out what it is?

Tucker's pediatrician has prescribed 6 different medications in the 2 years since Tucker was diagnosed with ADHD. Oh that one's not working? Try this pill. Oops, let's try this one now. Let's change the dosage. Try giving it to him a little earlier. Here's another pill he can take in case he needs more focus in the evenings. Ask me how I feel about pills. Not a fan. At all. When Tucker was diagnosed with ADHD, I asked about diet or anything else that may help him, but our pediatrician was sure the only direction to go was with medication. 

After the 3rd or 4th pill or dosage change didn't work, we were referred to a child psychologist. Apparently this is the best child psychologist in town because we are on a cancellation list. The first available appointment is 3 months out. Always. So when his office calls with a cancellation, we take it. We pull Tucker out of school, miss work, alter our schedule so we can squeeze Tucker in for his 1 hour appointment.  And the appointments consist of the boys playing with toys, us chatting a little with the doctor, then Tucker playing Clue with the doctor for the rest of the time. Tucker has gone maybe 6-7 times and the only change we've seen is that he kinda knows how to play Clue now. 

Shouldn't there be more? Shouldn't there be something between pills and playing Clue? Shouldn't we be given some sort of literature on ADHD,  information for a support group, or suggestions on coping skills and tools? Shouldn't someone help us with Tucker's diet, screen time, homework, and social skills?

I'm screaming inside my head. I feel like I'm failing my child. I love him hard - hugs, kisses, "I love you's" a hundred times every day even when he's screaming how much he hates me, how awful of a mother I am, and how he's going to run away. I try so hard to be patient and speak kindly to him when so many others in his day do not. I ignore the kids who tell me how horrible my son was in class today. I know I should say something, but the mama bear in me makes me bite my tongue to keep from saying what I really want to say. 

So we Google. We manage. We pray. We start each day with hope that today will be a good day. We end each day trying to figure out the triggers to what went wrong. We sleep restlessly as worry and hope battle it out in our hearts. And the frustrating and exhausting cycle starts again. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

ADHD

I began this post about a month ago and went back and forth about posting it. Do I really want to put all of this out there? Do I want the world to know about our daily struggles? This blog was meant to be fun and a glimpse of our lives as newlyweds, then first time parents, then parents of two. But this is part of our story. This is about something that I struggle to understand. Through telling this part of our story, I hope to find peace and understanding as well as educate others about a very real issue for so many families.  

Tucker has ADHD. I thought all we needed to do was find the right medicine (which we did) that would give him the focus he needed in school (which it does). I was wrong. ADHD is more than that - much more.

During the last week of school, Tucker's class participated in Beach Day at their school. When it was time for lunch, the kids all ate together in the gym on beach towels or butcher paper. I noticed Tucker was sitting by himself. I asked why he wasn't sitting with other kids, he said he didn't have any friends. I pointed to various groups of kids and mentioned the names of some of the kids I knew, but Tucker said they didn't like him. I sat with him during lunch and tried my best to lift his spirits. After lunch, the kids had popsicles. I helped the other moms until I noticed Tucker crouched down at the side of the gym. I knelt beside him and asked him what was wrong. He was crying and repeated that he didn't have any friends. I hugged him tight and, through my own tears, tried to reassure him that he did. Though I knew in my heart, he really didn't have any close friends.

Once I got home, I started thinking about Tucker and his friends. I couldn't remember the last birthday party of a classmate he was invited to. I thought about how we invited 25 kids to his last birthday party in hopes that at least 10 would show up. I remembered a boy at church tell his mom he didn't like Tucker. I laughed it off at the time, but now it added to my heavy heart. I thought about the times Tucker has not gotten along with the neighborhood kids and came home saying some of the kids told him they hated him. I thought about how I tried and tried to figure out who Tucker could invite over for a play date, but couldn't think of anyone he mentioned as a best friend. This wasn't acceptable. How do I have so many adults (teachers, parents, church leaders) tell me how amazing Tucker is, but he doesn't have any close friends?!?

So I got books. I started reading / researching. I realized how much more ADHD is than not being able to focus and having impulsive behavior. The medicine Tucker is on is just a band-aid. It's just patching up the problem, but not really helping Tucker with the bigger issues and and struggles he faces each day.

The more I read, the more frustrated I became. Frustrated with myself. With Thatcher's peanut allergy, we read every label of everything he puts in his mouth. We grill restaurant managers about what type of oil they use and risks of cross contamination. We have informed every person on our street and every adult he interacts with of his allergy. We always have a back-up for every meal, party, or play date he's invited to. But with Tucker, we give him a pill and...that's it.

Since Tucker's diagnosis with ADHD in Kindergarten, I think I've been trough just about every emotion possible. I was in total denial at first. I remember Alec and I comparing our evaluations we had to fill out as part of the diagnosis. We had to compromise and come up with one evaluation to give our pediatrician. It really forced me to open my eyes to Tucker's behavior. I remember the guilt and shame I felt once he was diagnosed and learned that most of his behavior was beyond his control. Every time he would get a bad mark in his behavior folder, we would gripe and yell at him all the way home, hold things from him (toys, screens, etc.), and sometimes ground him to his room.

I don't want anyone to feel sorry for us or for Tucker. No. Instead, I want parents to teach their children through their own actions how to be tolerant and accepting of others. I want kids to know some differences aren't visible and that our differences are what make us unique and special. I want to teach my own kids how to be in control of their behavior and how they react and respond to others.

I almost feel like we are starting over on how we approach parenting. We have so much to learn, and it's going to take a lot of time and energy, but it's all worth it. Because this kid is amazing, bright, compassionate, funny and kind, and one day he's going to conquer the world.


 o

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How Can You be Six?!?

Sweet Boy-

Time is moving way too fast! How can you be six already?!? You are the absolute light of our lives. You are so smart and funny. You have a kind heart, curious mind, and sweet spirit. 

You love Power Rangers, Legos, Pokemon, and Minecraft. Hearing you sing along to your VBS CDs always makes us smile. Oh and you love the Muppets Christmas CD - especially "Christmas is Coming". 

You like riding your Big Wheel and sometimes your bicycle (we'll work on that this summer!). You like playing with the neighborhood kids and sometimes Thatcher. 

Your favorite food is baked beans and watermelon :-) 

You love books, and reading at bedtime is one of your favorite things to do - it's one of ours too! You are such a good reader (currently at a level I!). I hope you always love reading, learning, wondering, and questioning. 

God has blessed us with such an amazing kid and we are so incredibly proud to be your parents. 

Happy birthday so the one who made us parents! We love you so so much!

Mom & Dad

Thursday, November 20, 2014

To Our Sweet Four-Year-Old Thatcher

Thatcher Rippy Davis...such a big name for a little boy! I've been asked many times how we came up with your name. Well, I was trying to think of a strong name from literature, and my brainstorming led me to Catcher in the Rye. I know the main character is Holden but I got Thatcher from Catcher. Next you needed a middle name. Daddy and I thought of all our grandpas and Daddy's grandpa, Rippy Lee Rambo, stood out. Thatcher Rippy Davis. I pictured you at different times in your life and made sure the name fit you as a baby, as a little boy, as a teenager, as a man with a family of his own, and later when life slows down and you can reflect on your mark on this world. And of course since you're our second boy, I just had to nickname you Bubba.

And now Thatcher Rippy "Bubba" Davis, you are four-years-old! Every day you amaze us with new things you are learning (like your current reciting of the presidents!) and new little quirks in your personality. You still say and do so many things like Tucker but you're starting to grow into your own self. You've begun to show empathy and compassion for those around you. Except for Tucker. You always know how to get his goat! I hope these traits blossom and grow and lead you to a life of integrity, honesty, and sincerity.

You still say "sit by me" and you still want to hold my hand, and I hope you always want to do both! You're still a daddy's boy, but I've come to terms with that, and I'll take the snuggles when I can get them!

I love your wide feet and your very first freckle (on the side of your ring finger on your right hand). You have really great hair (Papa Bill even says so!) and the cutest face with the sweetest smile.

You've grown up so much this past year, but you'll always be our sweet baby boy.

We love you so so much,
Momma and Daddy


Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Five-Year-Old

My sweet, Tucker Joe-

I can't believe you turned 5 today. That seems like such a milestone. You're no longer a toddler; you're a kid now. But you know what? I can still see my sweet baby when I look at you. Every once in a while, I can see what you'll look like when you're much older. But more often, I can see you as a baby. You have the same eyes and nose and forehead. And of course your toes - don't even get me started on those! You know which is my favorite toe, don't you? It's the second one from the right on your right foot - the little piggie that had none. I love how it curves in just a little to the left. I noticed that toe on the day you were born and I hoped it would always stay that way. 

You're so smart, Tucker. Your teacher tells me that all the time, but she doesn't have to. I know you are. You constantly amaze me with the things you say. And I love how much you love books and reading. Dad and I read to you before you were ever born and we've read to you just about every night since. 

And you know what? You told your first real joke tonight! You're always saying "I need to tell you a joke" then you make up some crazy joke that Dad and I don't quite get but tonight, you did it! Here's the joke:

You: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
You: Boo
Me: Boo who?
You: You don't have to cry, it's just a joke!

I love it! I love that your first real joke was a knock-knock joke (my favorite kind of joke). I have so many more to teach you!

Well Buddy, I hope 5 is all you hoped it would be and more. Ever since you turned 4, all you could talk about was how you couldn't wait to turn 5. I hope you have amazing adventures while you discover the world around you this year. Let's just not be too quick to wish to be 6. 

Thank you for making me a momma and for making me so proud to be yours. 

Love,
Mom




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

To Three Year Old Thatcher

Dear Bubba-

Today you turned 3 years old! Can you believe it? I can't! Some of my very favorite things about you are:

1. When you say "sit by me", I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. 
2. When we walk and you reach up and say "hold my hand".
3. When, just out of the blue, you tell me you love me. 
4. You copy EVERYTHING Tucker does and says, and I'm pretty sure most of the time you have no idea what you are doing or saying. 
5. When you first realize you're drinking chocolate milk and  you give me the sliest little smile and glance at me before saying "chockit mick".
6. At any mention of nuts or seeds, you immediately point out that you can't have either. 
7. You crawl around on the floor with your cars, trucks, trains - anything you can push around while making an engine sound. 
8. When you climb on top of Tucker and we tell you to get off of your brother, you say " but I love him!".
9. You are all boy - all rowdy, ornery, stinky, silly, sticky, sweet boy. 
10. You're our boy. 

Bubba I can't remember life before you and I don't want to. You will always be our sweet baby boy, and though you may be rough and rowdy, I hope you will always want me to sit by you and to hold your hand. 

Love,
Momma