Month: July 2015
After a few weeks on L-Tyrosine, Dylan started taking something called “Focus Factor.” I found it at Costco while browsing in the vitamin aisle, and told Dylan to take that as a supplement, too.
I never gave it a second thought.
Then summer came. I looked at the ingredients. The vast majority were in the Vitamin B category – 750% of the daily recommended dosage of B6, and 333% of the daily recommended dosage of B12 – along with 250% Vitamin C. Some other stuff is thrown in – Vitamin A, iron, manganese – but not to such an extreme level.
I’m not a fan of “extreme levels” when it comes to vitamins. In fact, I decided that Dylan didn’t need to take this vitamin at all over the summer.
So one day, he didn’t take it. He still took his L-Tyrosine, of course, because it was so important.
Within hours, Dylan was on my last nerve.
He was boisterous, rambunctious, spinny and bouncy. He was loud and seemed unable to stay quiet. When I asked him to do something, he forgot. Then he forgot again.
At one point, I looked at him and he was completely spaced out. I’d just been explaining how to pack his suitcase for a weekend trip we were taking.
“Did you hear me, Dylan?”
“What?” he stammered. “Yeah, yeah, I heard you!” And then he halfway repeated what I’d said.
Ten minutes later, I heard him yelling at Shane: “You’re not supposed to put your clothes in a suitcase!”
And yet, Shane was supposed to put his clothes in a suitcase. At precisely the time Dylan had spaced out, when he said he’d heard me, he simply hadn’t been focused at all.
It wasn’t until almost dinnertime when I remembered that he hadn’t taken the Focus Factor.
I re-studied the ingredients. Tons of Vitamin B and some Vitamin C, too.
I take Vitamin B, I thought. It’s supposed to help with irritability. So I got a Vitamin B Complex tablet and gave it to Dylan.
“What’s this?” he said, still reeling from whatever random joke he’d just screeched at his brother.
“Vitamin B,” I said. “Just take it.” And he did.
I looked up foods high in Vitamin B12: shellfish (particularly clams and crabs), liver and soy. Dylan gave up seafood awhile ago, when he got hermit crabs as pets. We limit soy to once a week because of the cancer link. And no one ever eats liver.
Bran cereal is loaded with B12, but Dylan hates cereal. There is a bit of B12 in eggs (an ADHD-kid’s best friend!) and cheese. Beef is also very high in B12 – and Dylan devours beef.
I looked up foods high in B6, too: sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, fish, poultry – a bit in beef and pork. I made Dylan a cheeseburger for dinner.
But it didn’t do any good. Dylan was still very unfocused, unable to control his own impulses, and incapable of the responsible behavior I’d seen for nearly two months.
I’ve no idea if this was a fluke or not, but the next day, he went right back to taking both vitamins. Someday soon, when I get really brave, we’ll see what he’s like on just the Focus Factor and no L-Tyrosine.
But not today.
My husband is a bit deaf. So a month ago, when the dryer started making a high-pitched squealing sound, Bill couldn’t hear it.
Then Shane came downstairs one evening and said, “Mom, there’s a really loud screeching sound coming from the laundry room and I don’t know what it is.”
I raced upstairs. The sound I’d heard earlier was substantially louder, like the wail of a dying walrus.
I calmly told Shane, “The good news is, Daddy will be able to hear it now!” Then I bellowed, “Oh Bill! You should probably hear this!”
I “helped” Bill by pointing at the dryer. “Do we need a new one?” I asked.
He was already pulling it away from the wall, seeking the source of the sound. “Maybe,” he said. “It’s awfully dusty behind there. Has it always been this hot?”
“What do you mean?”
“Put your hand here,” he said, laying his hand on the top of the dryer. So I did – and nearly scorched my palm.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t usually touch that part.”
“Huh,” Bill said. I figured my work was done, and left.
A few minutes later, I saw Bill going upstairs with the shop vac – normally reserved for basement flooding and gravel spills in the kitchen.
Wow, I thought. He must be cleaning up, for when the repairman comes.
The shop vac ran for 15 minutes. There was some clanging and a whir, some kind of electric tool. The shop vac ran for another 10 minutes. Eventually, Bill came back downstairs.
“Go up and tell me if you still hear the noise,” he said. As I mentioned, he’s a bit deaf.
I went upstairs. The dryer wasn’t making a noise. In fact, it sounded like it did when it was new. There wasn’t even a remote hum.
I put my hand on top, in the place that had seared my flesh. The dryer was cool. I checked other places. The dryer was cool all over.
I couldn’t believe it.
“You FIXED it,” I said to Bill. “What on earth did you do?”
“Oh, I just took it apart and cleaned out the lint. You wouldn’t believe how much lint I found. And I took the back off, you know, where the engine is? I cleaned out around there. And I made sure the area around the main bearings was clear, too. And then I just put it back together.”
“You fixed it!” I said, still awestruck. “I thought we needed a new one!”
“That was the next step,” he said. “I’m just glad you told me about it before the house caught on fire.”
And then I remembered my age-old worry that our dryer would catch fire, which is the reason I always clean every single scrap of lint from our filter.
Apparently, that’s not enough.
Dryer fires are one of the top ten causes of house fires. And no wonder! That thing was hot, the engine was caked in lint, and other than the almost-ignored squeal, we had no idea what was happening.
[Click here to save your own house from burning down.]
Bill may not be very organized. Like Dylan, he has an absolute inability to sit still or stay on one track for very long. And he forgets a lot of stuff – like what time the kids’ concert is, and to take pants on vacation.
But who cares?
The man saved our lives!
Of course, a few days later, the sound started up again – quietly. “Probably a bearing,” Bill said.
So we bought a new dryer anyway.
I went to see the movie, Inside Out. While it is billed as a movie for children, adults will have far more appreciation for its message and especially its subtleties. My kids didn’t much care about it. But after I saw it, I spent hours reflecting.
Looking back on my life now, knowing myself as I finally do, it’s easy to see what drove me as a youngster. I was driven by the desire to be happy.
ALL. The. Time.
I am not generally ecstatic. I’m rarely truly unhappy, either. I was born in sort of a melancholy state. I don’t know if it was nature or nurture. And now, quite honestly, it doesn’t matter why I was the way I was.
Because I’m still that way.
And until Shane was born – and came out of the womb also in a melancholy state – I thought there was something wrong with me.
So I decided at a very young age to change, and to be happy.
ALL. The. Time.
Unfortunately for me, I searched outside of myself for things to make me happy. I enjoyed swimming pools, riding bikes, and dogs. I lived in a northern climate, so swimming and bike riding wasn’t always an option – although I have very happy memories of both. Mostly, I just loved dogs. We didn’t get one until I was 12.
I also liked to read. After we got a dog, I took the dog for long walks and then went home and read books. I especially liked books about dogs – but the dog nearly always died at the end. Dogs don’t have long lives, even in books.
And I loved music. I especially liked sad, moaning pop songs about losing the love of my life. I had many loves, none of whom knew I existed, and I had a song for all of them. I rarely danced to music – just wallowed in it.
In my twenties, I drank enough alcohol trying to be “happy” that it put me into a decade-long depression. So I learned to look elsewhere.
Examining my quest for happiness more closely, I see now that what actually makes me happy is embracing the sadness I spent a lifetime trying to ignore.
In other words, I know now that it is okay to be myself.
I learned that when Shane was five, and I found him playing alone at recess. He was quiet, but he was perfectly content, playing in the dirt under an empty basketball hoop.
“Why don’t you go play with the other kids?” I asked him – for the second time that week.
“Why?” he said.
And it hit me like a brick in the head. Shane is happy. He’s just not jumping and running and laughing. He’s never run from his own sadness – just experienced it, and moved on. And that’s why he is, so far, content in his own skin.
I learned the same lesson six years later, when I watched Inside Out.
Maybe no one else will understand why it was such a powerful movie for me. But maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t matter if anyone else understands.
Dear Performing Arts Teacher,
What you did to my son is just plain mean. You are supposed to be teaching him, helping him to grow, giving him a love of performing arts – and all you did was squash his interest in something he adored when he started the year with you.
You are a tyrant. You demand things from children and young adults that are totally unrealistic. You demand hour upon hour of rehearsal for even the smallest scene. Perhaps this was the way you were taught – and indeed, we all know that rehearsals have a solid and important purpose to improve performances. But your methods for teaching such an important rule are ancient and cruel.
My son has ADHD. He can’t sit and focus the way you want him to. He can’t bow down to your screams for silence and stillness while the same scene unfolds over and over and over again. He was incredibly bored in your classroom, and learned more on his own at lunchtime than he did from you. He has immeasurable talent and he will not learn from being forced to sit still.
You have no understanding of ADHD. So you had the audacity to team up my son with two other students with ADHD – and then to demean and demote them all when they couldn’t perform independently and by your rules. You had no patience, no tolerance, and certainly no caring. And no one on earth should teach without those three invaluable qualities.
You shouldn’t be teaching at all. Luckily, your class only meets twice a week and you teach at a school so small, you really don’t count for much in this world. You are old enough to retire, though, and you should – or go elsewhere, where they are seeking someone to militarize rehearsals and demand greatness from all performers. Perhaps you should try Broadway. I hear they are looking for you. Meanwhile, now that I have written this – even though I have no intention of sending it – I will rest easier, knowing I have said my piece.