The King

Javon

This young fellow is the first of my off-spring.  I like to believe he is the reason I am where I am today.  Having him at the tender age of 16 changed my life in ways I never even knew.

Being a teen mom was hard, it was challenging, and it was the hardest test I ever had to take in life thus far.  Everyone in my life told me my life was ruined, and that I wouldn’t amount to anything.  The question was always asked, “What about school, or college? What are you gonna do now?!”

My answer was, “Survive, excel, and continue to be great.”  All that doubt from those who were suppose to be in my corner, was diesel fuel for my stride to success.  I became determined to finish school, go to college, and make something out  of myself, because that little person was depending on me.

My son is my everything, without him I don’t know what path I might have taken.  Without him, I wouldn’t have become an RN at the age of 22, or owned my house at the age of 23.  Without him, I wouldn’t still be striving to be great, because he looks to me the most for guidance on what success entails.

This young man has challenged me in ways I could never explain.  We have been on a rocky roller coaster with his health, his self-esteem, his academics, his work ethic and so on.  There are ups and downs, but we are muddling through them all with grace and dignity.

It’s hard to believe in 1 1/2 years he will be considered an adult.  My baby will be a man.  Until then, he’s just my nerve plucking teenager, who has tempted me to write a book titled “What to expect during the teenage year”.  I swear this is the most important book in parenting, that has yet to be published!

I introduce to you, my King!

 

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ADHD Through The Eyes of A Parent

Many people know (or think they know) what ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is all about.  I have been dealing with ADHD for 10 years or so.  What I have come to realize is like most mental health illnesses, I feel since it is not “seen” by the naked eye, people have a hard time understanding and believing it exist. There also are people who believe it is a “made up diagnosis” for “lazy” “bad” kids.  However, I will give my testimony to ANYONE willing to listen, it’s REAL, and it’s HEART BREAKING as a mother, and SOUL CRUSHING for my 15 year old son.
The stress this condition puts on me, as a mother of 4 is so overwhelming, I ONLY work weekends.  I do this to keep my sanity. Also, I MUST be available to my son during the school week from sun up to sun down because I’m the only one who can bring him back from his days of darkness.
There are days I am called to school because he’s having a total melt down in class. He will get so fixated on one thing (usually a bad grade), and just go over the deep end. When I get to him, he’s rambling, repeating himself over and over again, crying, rocking back and forth and just falling apart inside.
When I wake up and roam my house, without a doubt I know every room my son has been in.  If I want to know if he took his medicine like he should have, I just walk into the kitchen and look for his medicine bottle to be left open on the island with a half drunken glass of something sweet.
If I want to know if he managed his personal hygiene CORRECTLY (he is still a boy), I go in the bathroom and see if the toothpaste and deodorant has the cap on, and if the brush is where it belongs.
At the end of a school day, if I wonder if he actually took his medication or dumped it, I simply ask him if he wants something to eat.  WHY, because he never has an appetite if he took his afternoon dose.  His other give away, is when he walks up to my car with a million and one things to say; typically on medication he has about 5 words the whole 30 minute ride home.
Once we get home from school, I wait for him to get out the car so I can see what he has left behind in my car that I’m pretty sure he’ll need for homework.
Every night his stepfather or I have to do book bag checks to make sure his work is in their corresponding folders.  Otherwise his book bag will be filled with bent, crumbled, folded papers everywhere but in the folders labeled and color coded for each class.  We also spend countless hours doing homework that should take only one and a half hours top, because he has difficulty following the directions, or interprets them incorrectly.
Whenever I want to send a child on an errand he is always a last resort because I know he won’t complete the task entirely or correctly.
I’ll ask him to clean the kitchen and remind him to use the laminated step-by-step list of EXACTLY HOW to clean the kitchen.  I’ll then remind him 3-4 times to go back and check and make sure he followed EVERY DIRECTION CORRECTLY.  And guess what?? The kitchen is never done correctly. He’ll ask me did he follow the directions and I explain to him what steps he miss, and he walks away with defeat.
Some days, I just want to say yes, because “that look” in his eyes tears me up inside.  However, I have to be honest with him, because that is what he asks for.  I always put a positive spin on it, and assure him he’ll get it next time.  Although, that doesn’t change the fact he feels like he is incapable of doing anything right.  To try and compensate for this, I try my best to bring out the best in him, to assure him he is great despite his shortcomings.  He’s an excellent cook, statistician, mathematician, and memory keeper.  On days when I know he’s feeling down, I’ll have him cook dinner, because it always lifts his spirits.  Or I’ll give him a list of things I need to remember and take him on errands with me to remind me.  When I praise him for such a good meal, or tell him, “I don’t know what I’d do without your memory,” the smile and glimmer of hope in his eye is priceless.
The worst part of ADHD is my son being labeled a “lazy” “average” student, when his IQ is off the charts.  I have to fight with teachers, administrators, principals, and even superintendents to get my son the services he needs to be successful in school. The way they treat him does nothing for his self-esteem and makes me have to work ten times as hard to assure him he’s just as smart if not smarter than every student in his class.
While it may seem like I’m complaining, I’m not.  I love my son with every breath in my body, and accept him for who he is.  I know he will one day learn to compensate for his condition and be a very successful man in society. My only intention is to help others “see” a glimpse of a disability not seen by the naked eye.

When Your Teenager Meets FICA and Co.!

Last summer, my then 14 year old King, obtained his first job.  To say he was excited was an understatement.

It was hard for him to smile after seeing he was ROBBED!
He had PLANS with his first check.
1. New sneakers
2. Gucci shirt (SERIOUSLY)
3. Couple pair of Abercrombie jeans
4.Take mom out to dinner (Such a mamas boy)
5. Per mom’s request save 20% (gave me the WHAT? face).
If I haven’t mentioned it, my son is a math wizard! As soon as he learned his hourly rate and his hours worked per week, like a calculator, he had his paycheck amount CALCULATED TO THE CENT!
Now let me give a little background.  In 7th grade, my son had an awesome Social Studies teacher who unfortunately had a bunch of kids not willing to learn what he was trying to teach.  I know this because one day I went to school with my son (Here’s the post).
In that class he was attempting to teach them about taxes in the real world.  They had to develop a product, budget, sell it, pay bills, and taxes and see if they made a profit or loss.
No one was really paying attention, and I don’t even believe he went through with the project being a graded assignment.  My son was one of the ones who CLEARLY did not PAY ATTENTION TO THAT LESSON.
Fast forward to working season..the summer.
My King was under the impression he would get paid the Friday in which he started working.
I tried to explain to him that you always work a week in “the whole” and you will end up with a check a week after you’re done working, but you WILL NOT GET PAID YOUR FIRST WEEK.
Needless to say, such and such said he will get paid this week…blah blah…moms wrong…such and such is right.
Friday came, and so did the SAD, ANGRY, DISBELIEF FACE! Yup NO PAYCHECK.
Despite the conversation I HAD WITH HIM…he still couldn’t understand why he didn’t have a check!
“WHATEVER, but I’m not gonna say….TOLD YOU SO!”
Now his actual payday DOES COME, he gets his check, opens it, sees the amount, and is INFURIATED!!!!
MOM!!!! MY CHECK IS WRONG! THEY GAVE MY MONEY TO FICA, MEDICARE AND OTHER PEOPLE!!!! WHO IS FICA AND THESE OTHER PEOPLE GETTING MY MONEY?!?!
I swear I laughed for a whole half an hour!  The funniest part was they took about $25 in taxes from his check.  I told my hubby to tell him how much FICA and Co. takes out of his check a month and his face was priceless.
He now is a firm believer the government is a get over, and people need to get a job and work for their own money so they can stop taking his!
TEENAGERS GOTTA LOVE THEM!!!

ADHD: Living With The Invisible Disability

I have been dealing with ADHD for 10 years or so.  What I have come to realize is like most mental health illnesses, I feel since it is not “seen” by the naked eye, people have a hard time understanding and believing it exist.

When I recall the endless amount of phone calls, conferences, and emails sent back and forth with my son’s educators and myself, I seem to always feel like they just don’t get what it is he goes through.
The suggestions I get as to what my son needs to do to be successful are:
“he needs to pay attention”
“he needs to focus”
“he’s needs better organization”
“he needs to follow directions”
“he needs to put in more effort and stop being lazy”
I literally just boil over inside because ummmmm that’s called having ADHD….DUH!
Once in a heated disagreement about my son’s capabilities with one of his teachers, I simply asked her, “Would you tell a blind child’s mom if he took notes off the board like everyone else he would’t fail.” OR a deaf child’s parent, “If she was listening to me during class she would understand what is going on.”
NO….why is that, because you can visually see and put a finger on the fact they need accommodations to learn.  However since my son’s disability is inside the brain, it has to be made up.
ADHD is INVISIBLE but it is REAL.  It is devastating, and soul crushing for those who have to live with it and for those who live with them.
No one wants to struggle or fail in life.  No child want to be a disappointment to themselves or their parents.  No child aspires to be labeled lazy and they don’t care, because they are totally the opposite.  They DO CARE, and they WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL.  It’s just difficult for them and beyond their control. They need supportive, understanding, nurturing environments and educators who comprehend this.
Imagine how you would feel if everything you touch you lost, everything you attempt with your best effort, you fall short, no matter how hard you try you just can’t stay focused to learn.  All while everyone around you is excelling.  Imagine being an extremely bright and intelligent human being, but not being able to show case it, and being labeled the total opposite.
That is life for a child with ADHD.

ADHD: The Medication Non-Compliance

One of my biggest struggles with my son with managing his ADHD is the medication.  I remember a time when I refused to give him medication, mainly because of my denial of him having this condition.

However, once he did start the medication, the changes in him were bitter sweet.  These stimulants turn my son into a successful student, making him capable of everything I know he’s capable of academically.  Although the bitter is his personality.  My talkative, PDA, sports stat rambler, thousand question asker turns into a silent place holder.  It seems as though he’s just “there”.

What’s even worse, is he notices it as well, and struggles with compliance of his medication.  He has this desire to want to be able to “do” everyday task like “normal” people without needing medication. He also wants to be able to be himself.

Due to these wants and desires my son has, the battle of getting him to take his medication has been an up-hill battle from the start.  Initially, it was the side effects of headaches, loss of appetite, insomnia, mood changes, zombie feeling.  Once we tackled these problems and found a medication with minimal side effects, the next up-hill battle became, “I don’t like taking pills.”

To add to the non-compliant issues, his dad too is not compliant and on board with his medication regimen when in his care (on the weekends).  Therefore, this makes everything I’m trying to enforce impossible!

My son has went through all the typical non-complaint med routines.  Pretending to take his meds, the hiding under the tongue routine, the hide it in the hand only to be found in the  pocket, lying about taking the med when CLEARLY he did not, having melt-downs about having to take meds, taking only SOME of the dosage, and the list goes on.

Just recently, his doctor switched him to the Daytrana Patch.  His only comment was, “Why didn’t they give me this a long time ago?” However, guess what? He’s still non-compliant, especially when with dad, still lying about taking his meds.

This struggle with him wanting to be normal and his dad convincing him he is “normal” and don’t need these medicines to be successful, is the thorn in my side.

It’s so frustrating and hurtful in the same breath to see my son struggle when I also see days of his potential.  His first day on his new medicine, it was like a new child was doing homework.  It was legible, I could make sense of it, and it was 90% accurate THE FIRST TIME!  That’s like finding a cure for cancer in my house.

I have him set up to see a new counselor to deal with his underlying depression and hope he can help tackle these issues.  My son told me, “Mom, nothing motivates me to get good grades in school.”  What do you say to that?  I’ll rant about that conversation in my next post.

ADHD: The Report Card

My oldest is 14 years old, a couple months shy of 15.  We’ve been doing this school thing for 10 years now.  With every new school year, comes the first report card for every kid, but for my son this is never a good experience.

Every 1st marking period for my son means a storm is coming.  EVERY first marking period my son gets the worst report card of the year.  This is always so heartbreaking and disappointing from him and myself because I know he’s capable of so much more.
I know its coming, and believe you me, I’ve tried all the tricks in the books to try and prevent this.
However there are several factors that contribute to this impending storm.
The first being the fact he has parents in two different households with two different opinions of his ADHD condition.  His father feels he don’t need medication and/or therapy to be successful, whereas his the medical PROFESSIONALS  and MYSELF feel and KNOW otherwise. 
This difference of opinions leads to reason number 2 being non-compliance with his medication.  Due to the fact he has his father’s family convincing him he don’t need medication, and the fact he don’t want to take medication, he goes with gravity (down) and stops taking his medicine over the summer (when he’s with dad) and then struggles during the school year.
The lack of compliance with his medication leads to difficulty staying on task in school, completing and turning in assignments, failed test/quizzes, and ultimately a failing report card.
The constant failures in school creates a wall within my son, and lowers his self-esteem of himself to the point where he just give up.  
He hides his bad grades, don’t complete assignments, and never ask for help because he’d rather forget the fact that he has failed, than ask for help to overcome his struggles.
My son has 3 HIGHLY EDUCATED adults available to him for assistance in school.  We go ABOVE AND BEYOND to try and prepare him for school (I’ll write a post about that).  In the past we literally followed behind him like a bird following a bread crumb path to help prevent him from bottoming out.
However, with him being in high school, and on his way into the real world, I refuse to continue to do this.  I need for him to learn how to compensate for his condition, and unfortunately, I feel like him failing will either motivate him or break him.  I pray for the best, but know I can’t always be around to pick up and put together the pieces of the puzzle for him.
My son is highly intelligent, and if he only put forth minimal effort he would have a C average and I need for him to see this.  It’s heartbreaking watching him fail, and fell like he’s a failure.  However, he has to learn to take responsibility for his work, because he is totally capable of doing so, and can verbalize what he needs to do to be successful.  
As always, my first marking period starts off meeting with his teachers AGAIN to address why my son failed, why I was never notified of him failing, and what can we do to prevent him from failing in the future.  After this meeting, every marking period his report card steadily improves until he’s where he should be by the end of the year.
I pray he gets sick and tired of being sick and tired, because then I know he will do something.  This is something my mother would always say.

ADHD: A Typical Day With My Oldest

Many people know (or think they know) what ADHD is all about.  There also are people who believe it is a “made up diagnosis” for “lazy” “bad” kids.  However, I will give my testimony to ANYONE willing to listen, it’s REAL, and it’s HEART BREAKING as a mother, and soul crushing for my son.

My Future Politician 

The stress this condition puts on me as a mother of 4 is so overwhelming, I only work weekends to keep my sanity.  I HAVE to be available to my son during the school week from sun up to sun down.

There may be days where he has melt downs in school, and I have to be called or go to school because I’m the only one who can redirect him.  He will get so fixated on one thing (usually a bad grade) and just go over the deep end.  He’ll be rambling, repeating himself over and over again, crying and just falling apart inside.

I wake up and go roam my house and without a doubt, know every room my son has been in.  If I want to know if he took his medicine like he should have, I just walk int he kitchen and look for his medicine bottle to be on the island with a half drunken glass of something sweet.

Just told him I’ll be going to school with him (wonder what he was thinking)

If I want to know if he managed his personal hygiene CORRECTLY (he is still a boy), I go in the bathroom and see if the toothpaste and deodorant has the cap on, and if the brush is NOT where it belongs.

When school let out, if I wonder if he took his medication or dumped it, I simply ask him if he wants something to eat.  WHY, because he never has an appetite if he took his afternoon dose.  His other give away, is when he walks up to my car with a million and one things to say, typically on medication he has about 5 words the whole ride home.

Once we get home from school, I wait for him to get out the car so I can see what he left behind in my car that I’m pretty sure he’ll need for homework.

Every night his step-father or I have to do book bag checks to make sure his work is in their corresponding folders.  Otherwise his book bag will be filled with bent, crumbled, folded papers everywhere but the folders labeled and color coded for each class.  We also spend countless hours doing homework that should take only 1.5 hours top, because he have difficulty follow the directions, or interprets them incorrectly.

Whenever I want to send a child on an errand he is always a last resort because I know he won’t complete the task with entirely or correctly.

I’ll ask him to clean the kitchen and remind him to use the laminated step-by-step list of EXACTLY HOW to clean the kitchen.  I’ll then remind him 3-4 times to go back and check and make sure he followed EVERY DIRECTION CORRECTLY.  And guess what?? The kitchen is never done correctly. He’ll ask me did he follow the directions and I explain to him what steps he miss, and he walks away with defeat.

That smile warms me up! (Just won a basketball tournament with his dad)

Some days, I just want to say yes, because that look in his eyes tears me up inside.  However, I have to be honest with him, because that is what he asks for.  I always put a positive spin on it, and assure him he’ll get it next time.  However, that doesn’t change the fact he feels like he can’t do anything right.  To try and compensate  for this, I try my best to bring out the best in him, to assure him he is great despite his short comings.  He’s an excellent cook, statistician, mathematician, and memory keeper.  On days when I know he’s feeling down, I’ll have him cook dinner, because it always lifts his spirits.  Or I’ll give him a list of things I need to remember and take him on errands with me to remind me.  When I praise him for such a good meal, or tell him, “I don’t know what I’d do without your memory,” the smile and glimmer of hope in his eye is priceless.

The worst part of ADHD is my son being labeled a “lazy” “average” student, when his IQ is off the charts.  I have to fight with teachers, administrators, principals, and even superintendents to get my son the services he needs to be successful in school. The way they treat my son does nothing for his self esteem and makes me have to work ten times as hard to assure him he’e just as smart if not smarter than every student in his class.

While it may seem like I’m complaining, I’m not.  I love my son with every breath in my body, and accept him for who he is.  I know he will one day learn to compensate for his condition and be a very successful man in society. I just intended to allow people to see a glimpse of a disability that is not seen by the naked eye.