Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Handle With Care

It was one of those days with Bonhomme.
Outlandish, garish, larger than life.
When he wasn’t whining, he was shrieking. When he wasn’t squirming, he was climbing. When he wasn’t complaining, he was arguing.
He was beside himself.
And yet, at times, he was soulfully sorry (if not quite penitent). An hour after eating a cookie when he wasn’t supposed to, he wrote me an apology note, artfully stuck to the bathroom mirror. “Bonhomme Sorry Grace”, it said, in three vertical columns. (He generally calls me Mommy, but apparently, this won’t do for formal correspondence.)
This has been happening more and more lately, with extreme behaviour followed by abject apologies. It’s as if he’s discovering that he’s unable to control his outbursts, that he’s becoming aware that he can’t help himself. The profoundness of his sadness, of his disappointment in himself, is shattering.
When he was one, he was busy. When he was two, he was precocious. When he was three, he was dramatic. At four, he’s been spirited. Now, almost five, I’m running out of excuses.
His teacher, at our most recent parent-teacher interview, alluded to the possibility of ADHD. Dearest was aghast. I was not.
Bonhomme is impulsive, has difficulty sustaining attention, bounces off the walls, can’t sit still, interrupts, requires every ounce of available attention from anyone and everyone in a room, and is very vocally passionate.
He has always been what you might call a “challenging” child.
He has his strengths. He abounds in them. Curious, creative, persistent, articulate, persuasive, caring, decisive, he will be a fascinating adult.
But he has to get from here to there.
And honestly, I can’t tell when it’s not one of those days with Bonhomme anymore.
Once in a very rare while, we have a good day, and I recognize, cherish it as such.
I have made it this far simply waiting for one stage to pass, for him to grow out of one hurdle and into another. But now, I feel the need to face the distinct possibility that it isn’t just ages and stages. It isn’t necessarily just because he’s two, or three, or four. This sensitive, passionate, willful creature will likely always require delicate handling.
ADHD, if that does turn out to be his (our) lot, is a developmental delay disorder. It basically means that certain characteristics come more slowly for some. There isn’t a parent in this world who doesn’t understand about differential development, so, I’m not all that concerned about the possibility. We got game, parenting-wise – we can take this ball and run with it, analyze the heck out of it, throw every tool in the book at it. The real concern with ADHD is the difficulty interacting with other kids, and the long-term harm that can come from that. Regardless, he’s too young to be tested, poked and prodded, diagnosed. For now, we keep on doing what we’re doing, with a few tweaks here and there to cut down on screen time, focus more on nutrition and sleep and physical activity, start working on attention-span exercises. The goal is to have him be able to handle the longer sitting and concentration required in first grade, a year and a half from now.
Small comfort to a tired parent, but then, what parent isn’t tired?
I’ve started measuring my days with Bonhomme not in how many times he loses it, but in how many times I don’t.
And I’m doing pretty good. Not great, and certainly not all the time, but pretty good.
Raising Bonhomme reminds me that patience is a practice.
A caring one.