Month: December 2015
L-Tyrosine, the amino acid that so helps Dylan work through his ADHD symptoms, works in conjunction with protein. If he takes a Tyrosine supplement, but doesn’t eat a healthy dose of protein, it doesn’t appear to have any effect on his behavior.
I think this is what happened the other day, when Dylan was like a whirling dervish – again.
He woke up and went to work, helping with a fundraising breakfast at church.
Dylan did a great job. He ate a quick breakfast (NO PROTEIN) and then started bussing tables, preparing place settings, and the like. He worked for two hours without complaint or problem.
Then he came home and regressed a solid 10 years: feet stomping, body spinning, maniacal laughter… balls bouncing, wild flailing of arms, exceptionally loud voice…
And the things he spouted were random gibberish. “Ippety dippety doooooo,” and similar sounds. He sounded like someone with – well, a brain issue.
His dad and I both expected more from him. We expected better. We expected more mature. But it just wasn’t happening. We had three solid hours of Dylan’s absurdities, during which time his only explanation was bothersome:
“I’m just happy!” he shrieked. “This is just how I am when I’m happy!”
I don’t know if it’s right to tone down his “happiness,” but I didn’t want to spend even one moment with my own kid during that time.
We threatened, we screeched, we told him to SHUT UP. We begged, we pleaded, we appealed to his sense of logic. Nothing worked.
Then we went off to a concert, where his school chorus was singing with the United States Marine Band in an annual holiday concert. There were 7,000 people in the audience.
I imagined Dylan up there, on the stage with the chorus, unable to control his movements. The peaceful choir would be singing O Holy Night and Dylan would be rocking back and forth with abandon, knocking his fellow chorus members off the risers.
But that’s not what happened.
Dylan jolted back into perfection, singing like the angel that he is.
And then I remembered. Dylan did great in the morning, working at the church breakfast. He did great in the evening, singing with the chorus. In between, he was left scrambling for something to do, with no way to focus his behavior on something that mattered to him.
ADHD 101: Always give the kid something meaningful to do.
Shane is a songwriter. It is a talent he’s had forever, that I didn’t even recognize as a talent, until about six months ago when his church choir director pulled me aside and explained.
The choir director then asked if Shane could write a song for the choir, and offered to have the group perform it at church.
Shane was elated. This was validation of his talent, and something he could do. Better yet, he was writing a song for God! And for Shane, there is nothing better.
So he wrote the song, sang it into a voice recorder, and then we had it transcribed into sheet music. It turned out to be about the baby Jesus, so the choir decided to perform the song at their Christmas concert. And practice for that concert is limited – only three practices! – so Shane was going to teach the choir his song at the first practice.
But he missed the first practice – because Shane’s mother forgot to take him.
The next day I got an email from the choir director who, of course, had to teach the song without him. She asked if he was sick.
No, I thought, his mother is sick. She totally forgot the day of the week!
Some weeks, I can’t remember what day it is without great effort. On this day, apparently, I didn’t remember what day it was until the next day.
I beat myself up over breakfast. First, I reprimanded Shane for not remembering. He said, “I thought it was next week.”
Then, I apologized profusely because I knew it was this week. I knew it, and for whatever reason, I totally missed it. I was still apologizing to Shane on the ride to school.
He seemed nonplussed.
“I am really upset about this,” I told him. “But you don’t even seem to care.”
“I care,” he said. “But there are two more practices left. I can teach them next week.”
“Yes but,” I said, “aren’t you really upset with me for not getting you to something that’s so important?”
“No,” he said. “Because it’s not your fault that you forgot. I forget stuff all the time.”
I turned around and stared at him. I was almost crying, but his eyes were dry. He was casually looking back at me. There was no animosity, no judgment, not even a minor crushed spirit.
Shane cared. But he didn’t moan or whine or become overwhelmed with regret. He just moved on, contented, with his life.
So I did, too.
Shane came home from school one day and blurted, “One of my teachers killed a bug today.” He was visibly upset by it – which is the way he gets whenever a bug is killed.
I started to say, “I know, Honey – sometimes that happens.”
And he said, “But she didn’t just kill the bug. She killed a lot of bugs. And she didn’t just kill them, she burned them in a fire.”
“She did what?” I asked, incredulous.
“We were doing this experiment in science with fire, and we were supposed to put this white powder in the fire. I think it was flour or something? But there were bugs in ours, so we told the teacher. And she came over and just grabbed a big handful with bugs and everything, and threw it right into the fire!”
I imagined the little bugs being burned alive. I wanted to vomit.
Shane didn’t seem any too happy about it, either.
I realize that many people consider bugs “just bugs.” But I’ve raised Shane to be kind whenever possible. That doesn’t mean we don’t kill anything – we slaughtered an entire ant colony just last month. But if it’s not absolutely necessary to destroy something, we simply won’t do it.
Shane’s science teacher apparently believes that saving a few bucks on a new bag of flour makes burning those bugs worthwhile.
Shane and I had a long talk after that, about how even good people can do things that aren’t very nice. And that doesn’t make them bad people – it just makes them different.
Next year, Shane will be expected to dissect a frog – the most loathsome school assignment of all time.
And, like his brother before him, Shane will do his dissection on the computer, far away from the last gasps of the poor creatures who will give their lives, literally, for science.