Medicating your kids
Before I had kids I had some pretty crazy ideas.
I would have never admitted it but looking back I was quite judgey.
That’s probably why I don’t judge the judgers too much, I just wait for them to do whatever it is that they are judging other mums for and then I welcome them into the club. Do you know who gets judged to almost viscous degrees? Mothers of children with ADHD and their kids. Because the world still views ADHD kids as “naughty kids” instead of having a spontaneous condition and as any judgemental human will tell you, naughty kids are results of bad mothers. Then theres people like me, I used to judge the mums of kids who were medicated for ADHD. Mainly because in my youth I used the ADHD meds recreationally myself, buying dexamphetamines for $2 each was pretty common in my high school, you’d have ADHD kids going crazy off their meds, jingling pockets full of coins and all the bad arse bong smokers who usually didn’t bother going to school (me) now hyper focused on an English assignment, confusing times for a teacher. However I’d never forget how horrible the come down was and I couldn’t understand how someone could condemn their kid to that feeling. Then I met my friend Freya who is that mum with the ‘badly behaved’ child, who is that mum who medicates him, who is that mum who gets judged as a “bad mum” because people are a lot more comfortable with the theory that only “bad mums” get “bad kids” than the “it could happen to anybody” theory. Jasper is 11, when not on his medication he is constantly labeled a very naughty boy, he annoys other kids, he can not concentrate on anything he isn’t interested in, he talks while teachers talk, frustrated he can lash out, he takes pushing boundaries to another level. Freya somehow manages to ignore people saying, “Is he spending too much time on screens? Maybe he just needs to spend more time out doors? You need to try alternative therapies? Does he exercise enough? Some time in nature could fix that? I would never medicate my child for ADHD, I don’t believe it’s a real ‘condition,’ you call it ADHD- I call it a kid who hasn’t learnt boundaries, how could you give your son drugs to keep him quiet, he’s just spirited” Or the teacher who asked, “have you considered taking him off sugar?” Or the other one who asked in a condescending voice, “what’s going on at home for him to behave this way?” And embarrassingly I was the one saying “I would never give my kid amphetamines” before I had even had a kid, thinking that taking dexies at 15 somehow qualified me to advise mothers on their children’s chronic behavioural conditions. I stay with this family all the time. They’re my sleepover family, when we can’t afford a holiday but really want one, when I need a girls night, when I am fighting with Bill, I go to their house for sleepovers, our children’s lives are intwined more like family then friends. And because Freya leaves him free of medication on weekends I have seen first hand on many occasions how Jaspers behaviour effects his life and those around him. The thing is, Freya has tried everything, Freya never assumed that she would be in a position where she had to medicate her son with amphetamines just to give him a normal life. She has tried alternative therapies, she moved to the country, living on 100 acres of bush that Jasper freely roams daily, she has tried radical grain free bone broth diets, he catches yabbies from the dam and eats them for dinner, she is a preservative free caterer, she tried alternative learning schools, home schooling, Freya home birthed her kids in a god dam blow up spa for fuck’s sake…she has changed his schools 3 times looking for a better fit, Jasper barely even watches TV, he plays the piano, does acting classes, Freya moved to Bali for 6 months to see if an international school and daily surfing would help. And still…. She is judged so heavily… The decision to medicate her son was not one made out of laziness or an inability to appreciate Jasper’s free spirit. It was made with love, for him and the children around him. Jasper simply can not control his own behaviour, he doesn’t have the ability to think before he acts. If someone is drinking a glass of milk and he wants it he grabs it, you can yell, punish, discipline him all that you want but that is how his brain works, it doesn’t give him a chance to think before he acts and it frustrates him more than anybody. This type of impulsivity is not conducive with schooling and time and time again, Jasper is labelled naughty. Jasper the boy who reads my children to sleep when we are there, Jasper the boy who happily gave up his bedroom for my family over the weekend, Jasper the boy who kept his knowledge of the Tooth Fairy being bullshit a secret from his little brother for 2 years!!! My little turds blurted to their friends within 2 minutes!!! Jasper who protects his younger cousins from school bullies. After years of educating herself Freya’s conclusion was that Jas needs his meds while at school, he gets a break on the weekends when she can monitor him, if he wants an education, if he wants a chance at life, if he wants to lower the possibility of ending up in prison, she believes he needs his medication. The other night over a bottle of wine she said to me, “Do people think I want to give my son speed in order to help him? I fucking hate it but it’s my only option of keeping him in school” And what makes this form of judging even more annoying? Freya doesn’t judge any mum. Ever. ADHD needs awareness, these kids aren’t little arseholes, they are golden hearted kids, fighting a constant battle with themselves, deserving the same bright future that all shiny little warriors deserve only it feels out of reach when constant “naughty kids” labels are thrown around. Children aren’t born cruel, when Frey enters a class to explain to them what Jas has going on they immediately go from being annoyed by his behaviour to being inclusive and compassionate when he gets in trouble. Compassion makes the world go round. I don’t judge anyone who medicates their children anymore, I don’t judge anyone who doesn’t either. If we are lucky enough to not have to make the decision between drugs and education it’s our job to support and learn from those who do. Love Con