The ADHD Circus

WARNIG: Raw emotion to follow. A mothers darkest place. If you are a flowers and unicorns parent….. don’t read. You will hate me.
In this moment I hate my children. Like really HATE them . Or at least I think I do. As a mum I know I don’t. I know that by the time I have finished my rant I will be  feeling all crap for even daring to think anything less than rainbows and unicorns about my children. But right now………! So . Indulge me.
So I just took the 3 boys out to a rocky beach with a playground, a  skate ramp and a flying fox. We packed a picnic and took the scooters and off we went. Within 5 mins of being there the arguing started. Toru started screaming at me because Tahi was having a turn on HIS scooter(as organised) When trying to calm him I was sworn at and told endlessly to shut up.(very typical behaviour Toru. I suspect he is on the spectrum and we are waiting for a diagnosis) I put him in time out. Then Tahi and Rua started fighting over a swing. Physically fighting. I offered up my swing and walked away. Soon Rua followed demanding that I discipline Tahi for hurting him in the fight. I ignored him and told him we were leaving. Eventually with all of them in the car we went to leave. As I went to pull out we saw a pod of Orca. maybe a dozen of them. Some people had gathered with cameras and were filming them as they ducked and dived through the ocean. It was stunning. As I tried to engage the boys in the magnificence of it all…it started up again. Yelling and screaming at each other they started throwing rocks at each other (big fucking rocks) . Of course as usual in all of these situations everyone stopped and stared at the circus that has become my life. Tahi ran screaming into the car to get away from Rua, who had a mighty rock in his hand and was trying to bash Tahi’s head with it. Tahi was quick enough to lock the front door of the car but not the passenger side. In this moment I was scared of 2 things. Scared that Rua would either throw the rock and smash a windscreen( mine or someone else’s ) or smash Tahi’s head so hard he would give him a brain injury. So of course I am desperately yelling at Rua to drop the rock as he climbed into the back of the car and threw it as hard as he could at Tahi. And the Orca ducked and dived in the beautiful ocean. And yet all eyes were on the boys and I. There is fucking ORCA whales out there!!! What an amazing thing to see; and my boys choose to spaz out at each other. FOR FUCK SAKES!!!! Fortunately  Tahi wore the rock on his back. Not his head. I got into the car and drove off.

The rage of  years of this having bubbled to my surface. NO MORE. No more being told by dept store managers that the boys need to be quiet or we will have to leave as I try on a much-needed pair of jeans and leave my ADHD child with his smallest and most easily overstimulated brother in the chairs of the fitting rooms. No more having to break up a fight within 5 mins of being at a BBQ with people I have not seen for years. Whose children all seem to function in the realms of normal and basically are dignified small people. No more being told by the after school care that if they can’t find an effective way to manage each boy they will not be able to look after them ….thus effecting my ability to study and work. No more trying to stop Rua from kicking down Tahi’s bedroom door IN FRONT OF THE LANDLORDS after being goaded endlessly by him for hours before.No more fighting over friends when we attempt to host playdates.  NO more blood. No more bruises;On them OR ME!! No more being told I’m hated because I didn’t protect Rua from Tahi. No more being told by Tahi that he wants to live somewhere else because the families problems are all his fault. No more having to leave shops because all of the mirrors and bright lights send Toru in a frenzy of excitement, dancing and overstimulated noise making. NO MORE STRANGERS STARING AT THE CIRCUS OF OUR LIFE.

And in the that car, as we drove away from those Orca, years and years of this EXPLODED. I yelled and screamed so hard I was spitting with rage in the car. I called them every name under the sun and took away every possible privilege I could think of, short of life itself. I ranted and raved and spat and boiled like a madwoman. I screamed till my throat hurt and it sent me into a fit of coughing. I showed them the darkest anger I have. I let them see their worst mother. And I will say…. in that moment….I wanted to HURT them. I wanted them to FEEL my rage. My despair and frustration. My loneliness and shame. My isolation.Because this IS isolating.
I am so fed up with hearing the well-meaning words of   ” I don’t know how you do it?!” *translation= fuck..your kids are mental. I’d kill them or run away*.
” Wow..I feel sorry for you”* Translation=  I feel sorry for you. Please let my pity for you be of comfort *.
” They are SO full on” * No shit  Sherlock*…
and ” You’re an AMAZING Mum” * Translation=  I don’t know what to say to you so here is a band-aid. It has nice things on it*.
And for the love of god…DO NOT TELL ME it’s just “boys being boys” Cos it’s not. ADHD is NOT NORMAL. It’s boys being assholes. Period!!
It’s all just a reminder of how different we are. . It feeds my anxiety about the boys. My shame. Because I do feel shame. I often feel pride in them  too…and in these moments I feel shame.  Perhaps if you feel the need to  say something…think hard before you speak. What are you ACTUALLY saying?. When you see  a couple of kids making a lot of noise..but HAPPY noise…instead of telling them to be quiet…try and distract them or ask the MUM if she needs anything else. Tell her its great to hear such happy children. If you see a mum trying to get in and physically break up fight and is struggling…HELP HER. In what ever way seems obvious. Most likely separate the fighters. I always appreciate a warm smile from a stranger. A smile that tells me they SEE us. That perhaps they have been there. A small reassuring nod..’You’re doing good Mum. Stand your ground.’ Engage the children. SEE them . Laugh with them . Help them .Show them. It really does take a village to raise a child. And solo parenting is very lonely at times.

As predicted having ranted I feel better. My blood is no longer at boiling point and I feel ready to go and talk calmly to my Tahi and Rua who have been sent to their rooms for the night. I am choosing not to apologise for the way I raged in the car. I so often apologise to them for my emotional reactions in fear I am a shit parent. That if I don’t show them remorse they wont ever understand it. But I am so sick of comparing my parenting to the expected PC parenting for ‘normal’ children. My boys are not. They are firecrackers. They are passionate, strong-willed,dedicated , articulate, focussed and soo many other wonderful things…that if I can just get them through their childhood with some basic understanding of what is right and wrong….they will be bright lights indeed. I know they will.So I gotta go and feed THAT fire now.

Now go give your Mother a hug. She bloody deserves it!!!

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AM I REALLY A CHILD ABUSER?

children

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child abuse in the developed world.
On May the 16th 2007 The Anti Smacking Bill was passed by the New Zealand government( not without public protest). This was to enable the system to have a black and white law that could actually have some pull with child abusers. If you are not allowed to smack your child by law..then you have NO EXCUSE as to why your child is battered, bruised, brain-damaged or Dead. YOU MAY NOT SMACK YOUR CHILD. PERIOD! If you are found to be abusing a child…your sorry ass is going to be charged and punished appropriately because the justice system has finally been set up to do so.

Recently I received a phone call from New Zealand’s Child Welfare Dept. Aka: CYFS.  Having recieved third party information a notification had been put through to them by someone who was concerned for my children. CYFS followed this up and felt that although they are not concerned for my children, I will need to go through a process with them, most likely resulting in my doing a parenting course. I yell at my children. I swear in front of them. But the  biggie is that I have  used soap in their mouths. I don’t hold them down and ram a giant bar of sunlight soap in their gob. I give them a choice. Either you do it yourself or I will do it for you. They always choose to do it themselves and I am always satisfied that after they have licked the bar , I have bought another 3 mths of non potty mouth.I was not aware that  this is considered abuse.
In the eyes of the law I have abused my children. For this, I feel a great sense of shame and inadequacy. If this country has any chance of getting the people who abuse children horrifically, then this law needs to be in place. What I want to raise is what happens for those of us that get caught in the crossfire?. Where is the line and why don’t we know about it?

As a Mum I have done many things I am ashamed of. There are days it all gets too much. I remember one day Toru was just at me with screaming and tantrums. I had endured days of it. I was done. In mid tantrum one day I snapped. He was standing at one end of the hallway and I boiled at the other. Before I could even think about it I was charging him like a bull. I stopped in front of him put my face in his and ROARED like an angry as fuck Lioness. Everyone stopped. I felt much better.
I am forever beating myself for not handling my boys better. For not being more patient with my high maintenance Tahi. For yelling more than I would like to.The more I have shared my current situation with people these last few days, the more I have learned that I am the normal story. SOOO many of my peers are guilty of the same things. Feeling the same shames and frustrations and often just as overwhelmed. Always comparing themselves to the parents they think are doing just great.Turns out a good few of us have resorted to the soap bar. I am the common Mum.

I have heard a few stories of people getting caught up in the system. Sometimes during a messy separation. Sometimes by an angry and vengeful teenage child.Sometimes by a witness who have only seen half the story. But a good few stories of people like me. People who are by no means perfect. People who should not be slapped with the label of ‘Child Abuser’.
When the anti-smacking bill was passed Tahi was 1. He was just a baby and I didn’t spare much thought for what was being passed. I knew that I disagreed with it but I just didn’t GET IT. From what I remember and understand of it there were many protests by many parents who feared that it would be exactly as it is.  Now …I GET IT!! I wonder how it is that this bill was passed without the support of a nation? I wonder how much money this bill has cost the nation in investigations and compulsory Parental Courses for those of us that were just being parents in a moment of  weakness.. I wonder, what would it be like, had the Government decided to put a  nationwide survey  out looking for the common grounds in the reality of  parenting. Had they asked as a nation what WE thought abuse was. What we thought was a realistic legal expectation of us as parents. From there could the laws have been made? Could we have supported parents by setting up courses, seminars, TV campaigns, ANYTHING to help  educate them on the new expectations  that have suddenly changed thousands of years disciplinary habits and give them the tools to do so? It may have cost a lot in time and money. But would it have saved us all in the long run? Would it not have created a national dialogue about what good functional parenting is. Warts and all. A place where we can share our reasonable shortfalls as parents with each other and not fear it may put us in trouble with the powers that be. Create the village that raises the children rather than the village that pretends they have it all under control while behind closed doors they are forever beating themselves up because today they broke the law.?

 Sometimes I think we treat our kids like they will always be children. That they are fragile and will be forever more. They are not. They are resilient. They are hopeful. And they will one day look at their childhood through the eyes of an adult that gets it.How many people do you know that say “Man, I pushed Mum to the limit when I was a kid.  She broke a total of 3 wooden spoons on my ass over the years. She was always frazzled but took no shit. I love my Mum. She is awesome!” Is my asking them to lick soap really going to change the course of their life? Are the school mornings littered with my yelling ” For fuck sake Tahi, clean your teeth! For the love of god put the toy down and go and clean your bloody TEETH!!” going to make him a meek and afraid of the world…or worse…a career criminal?  I wonder where the middle ground is?  Can we find a place to continue protecting our children as well as protect our parents and support them while they do the most challenging and relentless job known to man?

COMPUTERS,CHEWING GUM AND HELLS ANGELS

Aside

chewing gum

FB status update. 01/06/2014:

“Laptop has finally died from terminal illness. Am unable to get over the hill to spend what could feed a small african village for a year on a new one. My “smart” phone provides fractured 3rd rate internet at best ( the 2nd time i’ve posted this status as the last one disappeared into the interwebs somewhere) . I am living the pinnacle of 1st world problems. If there is no soy milk for my double decaf soy chai orange mocha frappacinno latte today… I’m gonna feckin kill myself!!”
A few things. “THE HILL” is what separates my small isolated town from the rest of the world. It is roughly 25km of long winding road, peaking at approx 791 mtrs at its highest point. The closest ‘City’ is about a 104km /1.75 hour drive from where I live.
It would be a month before I would have a window of time to get over “the hill” to get my technology situation sorted.
I don’t ACTUALLY drink  double decaf soy chai orange mocha frappacinno lattes. That’s just silliness.They are revolting!
As it turns out, on this very day my Tahi had a playdate organised for 1pm. At 12.40pm his wee friend called in sick. Being that Tahi does not often get playdates due to having  limited social skills, he was gutted. As was I, for him. However… this  led me to the thought that perhaps now was the time to seize the day. Carpe diem so to speak. I immediately rung the electronics store in the city over ‘the hill’ and spoke  to a lovely sounding chap called Jack.He informed me they closed at 5pm. BOOM!!!  It was on. I rallied Tahi, Rua and Toru and packed them away in the car. We were off to get some new computer thingees and get out of our wee town for an afternoon.
We would also see my Gentleman friend who is living over ‘the hill’.A  lovely chap whom I will hereby refer to as “Fatty Ding Dong’.Mostly cos it’s  funny. Having dated for some months he has only recently met my offspring. They were very charming indeed and gave him no indication that in fact we are all rather mental and louder and more full on than a Metallica concert on a 5 day meth bender. He even came back. WIN. He is a little bit into geekery  and since my laptop had died had been doing some investigations into what type of computer would best suit my needs. I rung him to let him know the circus was coming over the hill to by computery things sooner than anticipated and that I didn’t need him to come to the shop cos I’m a big girl and can buy computery thingees all by myself and I  would call him after the trip to the electronics store and we could go and let the kids out  for a run at a park whilst we throw balls for them ,drink coffee and pick up their little kiddie doos in wee plastic bags or some such yolk. That suited Fatty Ding Dong just fine.Off we went on our big city adventure.
Now my boys LOVE chewing gum. Especially Rua. He will ask for that and ONLY that for christmas, birthdays etc.That is pretty much the only time they will get it too. However, if it is in my bag, Rua on several occasions has been known to steal it and go and hide under his bed chewing it ALL,leaving a trail of chewing gum wrappers to the crime scene.  He will offer some to his brothers in exchange for their silence. Sadly for him…his open love for gum  is his teller.  Going shopping anywhere with an 8 yr old ADHD kid , a 5 yr old and 3.5 year old who could easily represent New Zealand in a contest of “Epic Tantrums of the World’ , is not an easy task. Let alone  having to go to a store where you must actually listen to the sales person for 30 mins and not have your rampant offspring break expensive electronics. Clearly chewing gum bribery was in order. I stopped at the petrol station and grabbed 3 packs of chewing gum. I explained to my boys that the chewing gum was theirs ,IF they could follow 3 simple rules. 1.Don’t touch anything
2. Don’t fight with each other
3. No yelling and screaming.
3 strikes…and no chewing gum.
For those of you that don’t have small children this sounds reasonable and easy enough. For those of you that DO have small children…I know you are, at this very moment, laughing hysterically  at my hopeful naivety. Thank you. The boys understood what was expected of them and agreed to the terms and conditions of the chewing gum contract. We were all in good spirits. We arrived at the electronic store at about the same time Tahi’s ADHD meds were due to start wearing off. He was doing great and I knew time was limited. I beelined for the counter and asked for Jack who was just finishing up with another customer. Jack was a slight man of about 21. He looked like he might be someone who might spend a bit of time in his room , at his parents house, playing computer games with people on the other side of the world. He struck me as a man who had perhaps just been dumped, had his car fail it’s warrant of fitness and lost his BFF cos he ran off with his girlfriend all in one week. To top it all off, he looked to have had a hard day in the shop and just couldn’t wait to get himself home and into the womb of his meticulously built imaginary world of war games. And then along came us. Lucky lucky man.
To be fair it all started very well. My children all skipped into the shop holding hands with their   neatly combed blond  hair. Their white little trousers matching their white little shirts, offset by their wee blue suspenders. Their shiny little leather boots glistened in the afternoon sun as they stood quietly behind their relaxed mother. Each dreaming of the chewing gum bliss that was only a few sweet  moments away. If only Jack would hurry up. My three blue/green-eyed angels skipped happily over to the cordless mouse section as I finally engaged the  frazzled Jack. ” Hi Jack. I need some computery stuff and a tablet. Lets do this!”  Jack was more than happy to oblige and was clearly optimistic and excited to make a good sale. Lucky lucky man.
It was on our way to the laptop section of the electronic shop that I noticed that the angelic Toru had taken it upon himself to grab one of the cordless mouse things and start shaking it. As any good relaxed mother who had made her offspring sign a chewing gum contract  in their own blood would, I reminded Toru of the  chewing gum contract and lightly let  him know that he had made his first strike.  At this very moment something strange happened. 2 little horns instantly grew from his little blonde head. His white shirt turned into sleeves of demonic tattoos and his  light angelic voice dropped about 3 octaves. He responded with  “NO! I WANT TO TOUCH EVERYTHING!!!” and promptly proceeded to do so with intense fervour. In doing this he seemed to suck away any remaining effects of medication that may have been holding Tahi together . Just like blowing up a balloon and then letting it go to see it noisily and uncontrollably dart around a room,….Tahi LOST.HIS.SHIZZLE. He started jumping excitedly up and down in one spot and laughing like a complete mad man. I quickly  stepped into carnage deflection mother mode. I gave Toru a mouse and told him he had a very important job to do. He was to hold on to this mouse and make sure he did not lose it because we were going to buy it for our new computer. He was happy with this arrangement. I told Tahi he was to follow me to the laptop section and stay close to me at all times. We got there and Jack started telling me all about all the different laptops. ” blah blah ram yadda yadda terrabytes blah graphic stick yadda yadda blah blah”
 ” Hmm yes Jack. Just a minute Jack. Toru! put that down please. Tahi, please dont wedgie your little brother! Sorry Jack..you were saying..?”
” Geekery geekery better performance yadda yadda n’ stuff” .
“Sorry, excuse me Jack. Toru do not put your tongue in that! Tahi! Stop telling your brother to put his tongue in that and give him back the mouse. NOW! I said NOW!!!!!. Thank you.”
At this point I was smart enough to see where this was all going.So I took it to the next level of Super Nanny parenting. I instructed Tahi  to come and have some time out. He was to sit in the corner next to the laptop section so as to avoid  having him wind up his brothers. As he loudly made his feelings about this arrangement known to all and sundry  I noticed Rua mooching around the shop. Just looking. Not touching. Through all of Tahi’s protests he obediently made his way to the new  time out spot and sat down. Now  I was able to slim my options down to 2 computers. Progress. Then it happened. Toru discovered that if he went through the little white gate by the door with the mouse in his hand it made a very loud and entertaining beeping noise. Wohoo for him! Back and forth and back and forth. “Excuse me Jack. Toru. You mustn’t do that!” to which he replied in his deep demon voice “I WANT TO!!” “Right Toru. That’s 3 strikes buddy. No chewing gum for you” Wrong answer Mum. He looked at me and replied innocently “But I want chewing gum”  Though what he was ACTUALLY saying was  ” I couldn’t care less about your chewing gum lady. Your grey hair, dark bags under your eyes and recent plague of wrinkles gives me more joy than any of your pathetic chewing gum ever could. Sucker!” It was that this very moment something beautiful happened. Like a knight in shining armour, Fatty Ding Dong strolled casually through the door. His unshaved face and unkempt hair from a day in his workshop was  like a ray of sunshine on  a rainy day. Immediately butterflies started smashing into each other on my insides as they tried to escape and flutter towards the sunlight. In my joy I turned towards Tahi “Hey look” I said “Fatty Ding DOng is here”  Instantly the butterflies dropped dead.  Tahi had managed get himslef to lying on his back with his knees up around his ears. He was slightly rocking whilst slapping himself on his bum and occasionally trying to poke his finger in his jean clad orifice. He was making a noise that I could only think was fluent Gorilla speak.He was also dribbling like a drunk on ketamine. He was having a ball. My body filled with a sense of dread and hopelessness. Fatty Ding Dong was surely gonna run a mile when he got a load of us in full swing. Nevertheless I put on my brave face and smiled a happy smile. In actual fact I prayed that the ground would open up and swallow us all and Fatty Ding Dong would never know what a circus uncontrolled fruit loops he had stumbled upon. I continued to chat with Jack about general Geekery whilst the offspring fawned over Fatty Ding Dong and tried to impress him with their butt jokes and songs of poo. He  offered to take them for a walk so I could get on with it. I scoffed at him and over casually said ” Dude. Yeah nah , it’s cool. . This is nothing. Really. No big deal. Just a casual shopping trip.I got this. And even if I wanted you to I wouldn’t tell you cos I need you to think I’m superwoman.  How about you talk to Jack here and let me know which one of these 2 computers you think is the way to go”. He obliged. Meanwhile I set about putting order back into my spawn. I sent Tahi to sit out by the doors of the shop. I needed to make sure that him and Toru were separated as the two  of them seem feed eachothers madness. I ignored him rolling around in front of the door and the customers that had to step over his writhing body as they entered the shop sharing a knowingly amused and encouriaging smile with me. I passed Rua  as he sat and watched large TV that was showing car racing.I picked up the 20kg’s of Toru and started looking at tablets. Jack soon joined us and we started talking tablets. Turns out that was hard work. Toru wriggled whilst I tried to find a tablet that would work for our family. Sadly no cast iron ones. I eventually put Toru down and he started darting around the shop. Tahi kept calling him over to the doors. In and out he would run and I would pick out tablets only for Jack to find they had none left in stock. Poor Jack looked like he was about to cry. Eventually I just told him that “Whatever  would do. I just want to get the hell out of here”. He obliged. With laptops, tablets,a mouse, a new phone and god knows what else we  finally got to the counter. Toru  started running around outside and Tahi started threatening to sit on the road cos obviously I didn’t care about him and I was the meanest mother in the world. I couldn’t see Rua anymore. I called out across the shop to Fatty Ding Dong to see if he could sight him. All good. They were hanging out. I went outside , grabbed Toru and threw him over my shoulder. He kicked and screamed in his demonic voice and demanded I put him down whilst Tahi begged for us to go now. Were we finished yet? Would he get his chewing gum? Why can’t he have his chewing gum?  Poor Jack looked like he was about to cry. Clearly it had all been a bit much for him too. Eventually the deal was done. The bags were full of goodies and it was time for me and my  circus of little angels from hell to leave the shop.As I turned to leave I saw little Rua standing quietly behind me. He looked at me with his big blue eyes and spoke directly to me for the first time in this whole experience  “Mama are we finished now?”
” Yup Rua. We sure are”
“Mama..?”
” Yes Rua. What’s up?”
” Umm…May I please have my chewing gum now? “