Monday, June 16, 2008

Parenting is a study in the feeling of inadequacy.

At least that's what has been my experience.

My son has ADHD. Now some of you will read that and think you understand what that means. Preconceived notions of the condition, or if you even believe it's a condition, will then surface and you have already "gifted" my child with certain behavioral characteristics.

Some of these assumptions will be correct, others will not.

Now take all of those preconceived notions and throw them at your child, or a child you love.

Takes a different spin doesn't it? You're probably saying to yourself, "well MY child doesn't do this, or do that"

Here's a news flash, most of the time, neither does mine. But unfortunately he walks into your world already labeled. I have to fight for equal treatment of him every day, and it's exhausting. I have to watch him make friends, then watch as he loses them due to outbursts of emotion he can't control. Or watch as impulsive actions push them further away...and there is nothing I can do to fix it. Add in emotional baggage we both have over family tragedy and a world that went out of control...I barely handle it as an adult, put that kind of pressure on a child and a child that already has difficulty handling day to day stress...
People do not understand, unless they have been there. It just is not in your ability to grasp and most people do not care to try.
I do a lot of damage control. Talk through what went wrong, what he can do better next time..but it doesn't change what is.. I have cried more tears as a parent then I ever did as a highly emotional teenager. Rather puts things in perspective.

I had a eye opening conversation with someone I really felt knew me and my son, about ADHD this weekend. While I expressed my frustration over having to fight for everything with my son just to have him treated equally and yet still have accommodations for his disability, she expressed her frustration in feeling her child gets slighted because children like my son need extra attention.

Here's the difference in what she says, and what reality is.

Her child does deserve to have the same equal treatment and reminding of every child. My child medically is qualified to have certain accommodations to help with his disability. The school over packs classrooms making it hard for teachers to give the needed attention to anyone, and they do not always supply the needed help for children such as my son to get the extra help he needs. That's just a fact.

But here is where we differ. She believe children, regardless of level of disability, should be taken to a special school so that her child is not slighted.

So in order for her world to be correct and nice, let's just shuffle everyone that causes an issue out the door rather then help them have the tools to function in a normal school room.

She blames the child rather then the system. I find that rather narrow minded. There is funding for children with certain medical disabilities, I can not dictate how the school chooses to spend that funding. I have no voice in that decision. All I can do is stand up and make sure my child gets taken care of.

She finds it easier to blame the break down in the system on children that require more attention rather then standing up for her own child and fighting, just like me.

If Kendell had no problems in life, I'd still be fighting over any injustices I perceive. I don't find blaming other factors a ready excuse. I don't always win the fight, often times it's a effort in futility. BUT, I fight.

That is the key...I fight. I don't blame, I don't make excuses as to why I didn't do anything. I do what I can, and I move on. Simple, and yet complicated.

My son is beautiful in every way, but he doesn't use a wheelchair, or have slurred speech. There is nothing physically indicative of a disability, so no one remembers that he has a genuine medical issue he has to conquer every day.

I'm so tired of people who look at a child that is a challenge and type cast them. You have no idea what is under their skin, what makes them tick. You have no idea what challenges they faced today and every day and you can't judge a child on the same level you do an adult.

They are children, they will grow, change, learn, and most of all, their experiences shape them. The next time you come across a child that challenges you, remember what's there that you can't see. Remember that what you do and say impacts them for the rest of their lives, in large and small ways.

Remember that someone is judging your child somewhere.

So today I deal with the same issues I do every day, only today I have to come to terms with something ugly about someone I care about.

Sometimes friendship is a study in inadequacy as well, and today I do not feel up to the task.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I was a month into 18 when my dad went into the hospital for the last time.
I couldn't tell you how long he was in there. Days seemed to melt into nights and my world revolved around this small room in ICU.

I remember sleeping on the floor under chairs in the waiting room because there was no room to stretch out on the chairs. I remember how my father looked against the blinding white sheets, how the sun looked coming in through his windows, but I cant remember how long we were there. Time had lost its meaning and my world had slipped asunder.

My father fell into a coma and none of us could do anything to save him. It was the beginning of the end. Days passed and I just wanted something to happen..anything; anything other then this endless waiting. This sea of grief with up swells of hope and down swells of despair. I was mired in it and just wanted out.

I know one day I looked at my mother and said, "I wish this was all over". My words looked like a hand print on the redness that filled her face. Shame threatened to drown me and I tried to swallow back the selfish thought. But words can be like actions, once slipped from the lips, they are beyond redemption, beyond reach, and I have to live with them shadowing my thoughts.

At the time it didn't feel selfish, I was just tired of trying to stay afloat, tired of crying tears that did nothing but fall, tired of trying to be a grown up when I was still just a kid that didn't understand anything of what was going on. Sick of body, sick of heart, so drained of tears that when he was gone, none would fall.

I think a lot about what I said to my mother that day. I wonder if I really meant it the way she took it, that I didn't care the outcome of this hospital stay, just as long as it was over. I don't think so. I think I was so bone weary of everything and everyone talking around me. Tired of not really understanding what was happening, tired of the smell of antiseptic and the squeak of shoes on floor. Tired of the sound of alarms and hushed voices, tired of seeing someone so large and looming in my life look small and helpless...looking already gone from us. I lost my security the day my father passed and I haven't really felt safe since.

Those words sit heavily on my shoulders when I think of my mother as well. They mock me as I recall letting her go.

It has been over 90 days and seven surgeries we had endured at the hospital with mom. The last night, I think both my sister and I knew, was a death watch. It was only a matter of time, I know this now, denied it then.

I lay with my son in the waiting room, an eery echo of the past. Changing shifts with my sister in the early dawn.

I watched her monitors beep and spit out information. It is amazing how much you learn about medicine and machines when the next intake of breath of a loved one relies upon them.

I watched her heart spike and I knew. I knew if we left her as is, that I would be watching her have cardiac arrest. I questioned the nurse and she only confirmed what I felt in my bones and I couldn't do it. I couldn't put her through anything else.

I went to my sister and told her how I felt. I told her it was time to let her go, and it was. To this day, the decision still feels like it was all mine and the weight of that decision I will carry until I join my mother. I know my sister would say it was our decision, but in the end, it was my voice, my words, my responsibility.

In the dark of night, when there is just me and these thoughts in my head, I think of the those words I said to my mother so long ago and I wonder if she knew. If she knew I let her go because I loved her too much to put her through any more pain, or if she thinks about what I said when dad was dying, that I just wanted it to be over.

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  • Name:Kara
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