Ever since our son told us of a recent dream where his adult, female cousin, wearing nothing but her underwear, was chasing him, we’ve been preparing to chat with him about the so-called birds and the bees. We got a book at the local library – Amazing You – which has plenty of cartoon drawings of penises and vaginas. Our family therapist recommended we read it to him, and then leave the book in his room to explore on his own.
He was so embarrassed when we opted to read Amazing You versus our standard Charlotte’s Web. But I have to say: this is one of the first times he actually paid attention during the reading of the bedtime story. He got grossed out with the diagram of the uterus and fallopian tubes, and seemed fascinated by the drawing of the baby to adolescent to adult progression for both males and females. (It’s actually this latter drawing that he decided to show the babysitter when she showed up last night so mom and I could go on a date.)
At the end of the book, there’s a drawing of a kid and his dog in front of the mirror. The text reads, “Take a look again in the mirror. What do you see?” Our son exclaimed, “My dog!” which was funny and really helped eased any tension. Overall, the conversation went really well. He isn’t ready developmentally to learn the circumstances under which egg (usually) meets sperm. (The book said that that happens when a man and woman love each other and decide to have a baby.)
We got another, more-comprehensive book that isn’t quite appropriate yet, although it does talk about adoption, so we will read that part with him in the coming week. (Adoption is two weeks from today!) Our plan is to incorporate a discussion about body variation when reading this other book, as this, like every other text we’ve seen, falls short when it comes to discussing intersex or transgender people.
In visiting with friends last week, we had an opportunity to talk with Mindy who has a background in nursing and now studies Chinese herbal medicine. We talked about our son’s ADHD and she suggested two things as a place to start: fish oil and the Rescue Remedy line of products.
The fish oil she recommended was the straight-up DHA kind. I take fish oil every day, so it was no biggie to think about giving it to our little boy as well. For the Rescue Remedy, Mindy recommended the spray and the pastilles, but we ended up with the spray and gum instead. He loves the gum, which we only let him chew when the effects of the pharmaceutical medicine has worn off. (I’ve been using the spray myself when parenting gets just a little too stressful!)
What was really amazing is what happened when we made an appointment with a well-respected psychiatrist. He is known to treat the whole child, rather than simply doing what most doctors do: shove medicine down their throat and call it good. In our initial conversation, he asked what we currently do to treat our son’s ADHD. He was impressed about our use of fish oil and Rescue Remedy, both products that he also recommends. It’s nice that a psychiatrist borne from the Western tradition would adopt some “alternative” strategies.
Also, in a few weeks, in addition to the meeting with the new psychiatrist, we are going to explore acupuncture as an alternative treatment for our son’s ADHD symptoms. My acupuncturist just received specialized training for pediatric patients and is adding this to her current practice.
So, we’ll see how all this goes. Ideally, our little one wouldn’t take any medicine, but would have his ADHD symptoms controlled through lifestyle (consistency and a predictable schedule), diet (organic food that’s low in sugar and gluten), and these fish and flower oil supplements.
Yesterday, our boy had an opportunity to go swimming at a lake in Virginia. As we were getting ready to walk to the changing area, he asked, “Why do they call them ‘soups’?” I had no idea what he was talking about. “Bathing soups, bathing soups. Like what Superman wears: a soup.”
“Honey, it’s suit, not soup. A bathing suit.”
“Oh.” After a long pause, he asked his second question. “I’m not a baby. You’re not a baby. So why are they called ‘baby’ suits?”
Okay, clearly his vocabulary still needs some development, but most important might be his hearing. We recently discovered that he has about 50% hearing in his left ear and 95% (and dropping) in his right. His chart had been flagged in the past as needing an audiology followup, but no one had bother to do anything with this information. Even his pediatrician who’d made the note was shocked when we insisted on a referral to a specialist. (Apparently, too, Medicaid isn’t thrilled with involved parents who insist on thorough care for their kids under that plan.)
We did get our appointment (eventually… that was a nightmare too because one doctor — who is often described by those who work with him as “a big jerk” — at Children’s Hospital refused treatment because he’s “not really our kid”). And now he’s scheduled to get tubes in mid July, two days post adoption. The hope is the tubes will fix the problem, but it’s possible too that the fluid of his middle ear may have corroded the bones, which would mean permanent damage.
So, here’s a kid who is still suffering from his birth mother’s abuse. Her ignoring of his medical needs when he was an infant led to hearing loss and now questions about why we wear “baby soups” when we swim. But I’m grateful too: I’m glad that when he is able to finally fully experience the world (through his full hearing), that it’ll be one filled with hope and love.
Our little one takes medicine – which he pronounces “madison” – for ADHD. We used to say that he was “in a haze” whenever under the influence of the meds. Lately, because of how he acts when he’s not on it, we’ve come to realize that “the haze” is actually the true personality of our kiddo. He’s sweet, he’s calm, he can focus… and he still acts like every other nine-year-old child: wants to stay up late, gets cranky over homework, wants to watch TV instead of brushing his teeth, etc.
The meds seem to be wearing off more quickly these days. His doctor upped the dose due to his growth, but I’m not sure it was enough. We can always tell as our kid bounds off the bus whether it’s still in effect or not. We have considered giving him another dose at that point (perfectly fine says the doctor) to help him get through the evening.
On days without medicine or when it wears off quickly, our kid will get in trouble (for hitting the dog, being a smart-mouth, defying us to the detriment of his or others’ health or safety, etc.). It’s difficult to imagine that that’s what he wants: to get grounded or spend the night in time out. With the help of the medicine, his true self appears – less manic, less impulsive, less “crazy,” as he says.
We haven’t done it yet, but it’s something we’re considering. The little dude has been through so much, more than I can even fathom, so why not get a little help from some madison?
So, being a parent of a special needs child (I think we’ve come to accept this terminology as accurate, although there’s probably a better descriptor that will surface as language evolves), it’s difficult to find time to blog. I have a list of one- or two-word reminders of what I want to write about, so that will serve as a jumping-off place once I find the time. But are we talking years from now? Maybe.
I’m not sure why this is so – perhaps they are just making conversation in the only way they know how – but adults always try to engage kids by asking them questions like, “How old are you?” and “What grade are you in?”
Interestingly, our child, in response to these questions, always answers based on when he was placed in foster care. So he’s eight years old and in 2nd grade.
Sometimes we correct him, sometimes not. He’s started to pick up on this, and will often look at us now as he answers the question, hoping to get it right. I’m not sure why I’m so fixated on him answering correctly when developmentally, socially, and academically he’s basically just started his life. (A judge, after hearing our boy’s case, described him as feral, but more on that later.)
As he becomes more adjusted to life here and starts to move past the trauma of being abused and taken from his birth mom, he’s starting to get out of that rut of an eight-year-old 2nd grader, but it’ll take some time… and that’s okay by me.
We are entertaining the idea of fostering another boy. Our son loves the idea of being the older brother. So today on our way back from a (rather unsuccessful) visit with a young boy, our son suggested that we get pregnant and have a baby. The fact is that that’s physically impossible for my wife and me. But this piqued my curiosity. So I asked: how should we go about getting pregnant? Here was his very matter-of-fact explanation: 1) Get really fat by eating a lot. 2) Now you’re pregnant. 3) After some time has passed, go to the dentist to get the baby taken out from between your legs. Okay, now I thought that was one of the most hilarious things I’d ever heard, until I heard him in the back seat of the car a minute later wondering aloud to himself what hole babies come out of. My wife promised him that I’d tell him more as he got older.