New Discoveries in Sensory Processing

So, back maybe 6 months ago, it was determined that the Padawan, having been diagnosed with autism and ADHD, also had something called a peripheral motor disfunction.

All I was told at the time was that this meant his brain wasn’t “speaking” to various parts of his body. Specifically, I had been told that his brain couldn’t feel his abdomen/pelvic region or his hands.

A specialist was recommended, and she wasn’t covered by insurance. It took a long time to afford it, but we finally got to take him to the first appointment/evaluation two weeks ago.
After spending an hour with him and taking him through various exercises, everything from writing his name, to copying pictures to throwing balls and standing on one foot, she had a clear idea of what was going on.
She told me he is highly intelligent but suffering with overactive muscles (constant tension, even when in a state of rest) and compensating for the lack of control through his behaviors. This constant state of tension creates such a major distraction in the brain, to the point where his mind is using more of it’s available resource and energy helping him function through the basic, mundane tasks of his day than most people.
She explained how he switches off certain parts of awareness to focus on something, so that his energy can be siphoned to the topic of interest. This is why he can’t do many things that come naturally to others. For example – he cannot yet hold a writing utensil with the “pinching” method for more than a few moments. This is why, she said, occupational therapy was unsuccessful. His problem isn’t in the motor function itself, the problem is in how the brain speaks to the muscle groups due to the tension and lack of awareness of that specific part of the body.
He has become highly creative and has an accelerated level of creativity and imagination for his age. She said this is, in part at least, because his brain has learned to compensate for his lack of awareness by switching from right to left brain dominance when needed. This is also why he has no left/right awareness or dominance. Meaning, he switches from his left to his right hand indiscriminately and often confuses left from right. This is also why he has a hard time throwing balls or frisbees or catching ANYthing, no matter how close he is to it. This is why he has difficulty reading, writing or processing any written concepts of any kind.
Everything that he is learning, he’s having to learn through what she called a “splintered pathway” of understanding. She explained it this way because it’s not a direct path – not a straight line from stimulus to understanding. She said it’s more like a lightening bolt, with many, sharp points along the way and at each point, there is an opportunity for the information to be lost, changed, or forgotten. Every time the information reaches a point on the lightening bolt, it has to be redirected back on track, so there are literally hundreds of opportunities for the data to be lost along the way!
It’s like having to race through your busiest day full of commitments to a bunch of different people, after having not slept in 3 days, and feeling like if you don’t do everything perfectly, the world will literally end. She said… that’s how he is living every day of his life. 
She believes this is why he has no short-term memory, why he is literally the poster-child for ADHD in almost every way, and why he still has pee/poop accidents when he is overwhelmed or hyper-focused on something like playing with friends, watching a movie he’s super into, or playing a video game. She believes most of his behaviors, his lack of control, his impulsive and compulsiveness, his anger and violent outbursts and emotional meltdowns… it’s all stemming from this inability to keep it all together, all the time, and still do things like walk, breathe, eat, listen to people, and basically, just… live.
Now, he may have no short-term memory, but he has tremendous long-term memory! He can remember places he hasn’t been since he was two and three years of age. He can remember soundtracks for movies he saw 1 time. He can remember exactly what you said last week when you got mad and used that word you shouldn’t have used in front of him. I still don’t entirely understand that…
Anyway, to be able to focus on and process what he’s doing when given a task like riding a bike, writing his name or even playing with a friend, he is simultaneously filtering out all the white noise, tension and conflict of stimulus. Information has to be routed in a different way to make it all the way into his brain and since it may be lost along the way, the creative side of his brain often fills in the gaps…. which is why it’s considered “forgetfulness” or it’s assumed he just isn’t paying attention. He IS paying attention and if you say, “hey, did you hear me when I just told you to do this thing I asked you to do?” he will say, “well, yeah…” so it gets super frustrating because yes, he heard you. No, he didn’t forget. No, he didn’t do what you asked. And yes, he’s upset, too, becuase he doesn’t know why he didn’t just do what you wanted.
As a parent, this typically means the kid is being defiant and not listening, not following directions or not complying.
This may not actually be true in his case, so that makes life as a parent… frustrating. (Is there a word that means frustrating at levels like the intensity of the white, hot sun burning your eyes out of their sockets? That’s the level of frustrating this is.)
He often gets angry at “his brain” for being stupid or making the wrong choice when he really did want to do the right thing. It’s heartbreaking when he has a meltdown after being repremaded after the 10th time for not listening and he just breaks, screaming at his “dumb brain” for being evil and making bad decisions.
Yes, this is something he has actually said… many times. He has said, “mom, I am a good guy, but my brain is evil and it makes me do the thing you didn’t want me to do”.
Now, after this, I think I understand what he means by this.
As she was explaining all of this to me, it suddenly reminded me of Jurassic Park. Remember when they had dino DNA that had gaps in it and they filled it in with frog DNA? Well, this is like that, except the DNA strand is the message being sent to the brain that says “mom just asked me to stop yelling for no reason”. That message is rolling along on its way to the brain and at every turn, it’s losing some pieces, creating gaps in the message. That’s when his creative brain kicks in to fill in those empty spaces! Instead of frog DNA, the gaps are filled in with things like Minecraft TNT, Star Wars battle scenes, the soundtrack from Moana or just an image of Rocket the Raccoon with a giant gun screaming at the top of his lungs. All of which roll around in there with the original request to stop yelling and results in, “mom said I should harness my inner Rocket and go find the biggest gun in my room and run around the house screaming with it!”
It also made me think of what happens when we walk through a door and forget what we’re doing once we step into the other room. That’s him – all the time, with every single thing he’s doing in his day, but instead of wondering what he was supposed to do, his creative brain fills in the gaps with some random thing he likes and the original purpose is completely lost. “I was looking for green socks” turns into “I was looking for something that is green and goes on my foot… Things that go on my foot… Oh! I bet I could put this shoe on my head and walk around without it falling off- let me try that 5 times in a row for no reason whatsoever!”
*Sigh*
So, obviously, this is making normal life 10 times harder, (for everyone) making mundane tasks less intuitive and taking twice the energy and effort for him than it would for anyone else… JUST to understand what is going on around him.
As you can imagine, school has been a challenge. We are nearing the end of our first year of homeschool and while I feel he has gained a great deal of skills, he’s not at the level he should be by the end of kindergarten. That really IS okay though, I mean, that is why we chose to do independent homeschool in the first place. His Educational Behavior Therapist told me, almost a year ago, to go slowly, only 3-4 days a week at most, 3 hours max a day, or I’d likely lose him completely and he wouldn’t remember any of it anyway.
Well, the therapist we saw the other day gave me some insight as to why this may be the case:
We already know from his evaluation last year that his primary method of communication is NOT verbal, even though he literally talks nonstop. Talking is not the same as communicating. He communicates with his whole body, through metaphor, through songs, though his hands and feet, through eye rolls and head turns, in addition to the words he says. His is a total-body communicator and you really have to pay attention to get the entire story.
So, with learning, She told me with anything that has to do with language; writing, reading or even math… if it’s on paper and has to be processed visually or a writing utensil is required, it’s not that it’s entirely worthless to teach him, but he may not retain the full concept at all until his brain has a clear pathway to get from A-to-Z.
(I have learned this already and much of our work is done on the computer because of it.)
She said that he will be able to memorize things through repetition so he can commit them to long-term memory, but he’s not really going to have a true understanding until his body and his brain learn to work together.
The effort being exerted through a constant state of tension is taking up like 80% of his brain power with only 20% left to learn with.
She said the fact that he can sound out small words, knows letter names, sounds, can count to 40, knows both 2D and 3D shapes and some basic math shows how intelligent he really is because he has learned all of this over all the noise he has to try and filter through his brain to get it locked in there.
It’s not all hard, though – He is great at creative thinking things! He likes history, science, he’s amazing at the physics puzzles in the game Portal 2, he can understand mathematic concepts and makes up stories, creating recipes in the kitchen, builds entire worlds, empires and battles with his blocks and small toys. He can make anything fun, any interaction a game and every minute of his life, if he is given the freedom to do so, can be turned into an epic journey.
So, the “treatment” to help increase his brain/body awareness is daily exercises. She gave me a bunch of them to do, and we have to do them two times daily; once before he gets out of bed in the morning and before he goes to bed at night. It’s changed our daily process and we are adjusting to this, but so far, it’s been going pretty well.
She even said it’s likely that after a year of this work, if we are super diligent about it and don’t slack off on getting it done, his test results may be entirely different.
She said not to get our hopes up becuase every child is different, but after focusing on this for at least a year, not only should he make significant progress in all areas of his life, but even his diagnosis may change.
Interestingly, she said over 80% of her patients are c-section babies (he was breech and taken via C-Section at 36 1/2 weeks after my water broke). She explained that the experience of the contractions manipulating and pressing against the body as it moves out of the birth canal brings a type of brain and body awareness that cannot be accomplished by any other means. Without it, sometimes children are left without that connection to having ever been triggered the “on” switch.
Clearly, this isn’t the ONLY cause of a deficiency like this, as she does have patients who were born naturally. She said birth trauma, illnesses and other factors can come into play, as well. It’s all still a fairly new science, so the “why” is still out there.
So, yeah – lots of stuff going on. There is a lot to process and many things to work through. I’m hoping this puts us one step closer to helping him feel that he truly has control over his life, his body and his future. I’ll update you on our situation as new situations arise.

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If you have any questions or can share a similar story, please don’t hesitate to respond in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Disney Junior Dance Party!!

I’ve had to keep this under wraps for TEN DAYS and I am SO relieved my vow of silence is FINALLY over!

We had the extreme pleasure and privilege of getting a sneak peek at the new Disney Junior show in Disney’s California Adventure Park last week. It opens to the public… well, right now, actually… as I type this, the first set of public guests are headed in to see the show for the first time!

Goodbye, Disney Junior Live on Stage!

Since I know many of you were upset by the change, I thought I’d do my best to reassure you… this new show is going to knock those little ruffle socks right off your mini-me’s and have them begging to go back again and again! How do I know? Because that’s exactly what happened!

I have no doubts about it at this point – this show is a winner and I want to share with you all my reasons why!

As many parents were up in arms when it was announced that our Disney Junior show would be leaving, I have to say, I was secretly okay with it. I mean, yeah – it was cute and the puppets were neat, but… meh. The constant same-ness wasn’t magical after a while. It also had a quiet tone, one that didn’t allow preschoolers to actually act like preschoolers. It was only mildly engaging and the show never really connected with the kids after the first few times we saw it. It was like watching a tv show and eventually, they’d get bored half way through. They wanted to get up, move around, and it was a fight to get them to want to pay attention, so we stopped going. I mean, honestly – you know it’s bad when the five year old asks for my phone to WATCH Disney Junior instead of the live stage show while they are right in front of it!

So, when they announced that the old show wasn’t just “leaving” but being replaced, I got super excited. Even more telling – when I told THEM there was a new show… they about flipped out with excitement.

The Padawan and the Princess, dying to see the new show.

So what is it all about?

It’s the “Disney Junior Dance Party!” and from the Disneyland website, we learn:

“You’ll sing, dance, catch bubbles and laugh yourself silly—plus you’ll get to see Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and Timon in person!”

Sounds fun, right? Here’s some things that make it awesome:

Familiar but New

First off – it is not even a tiny bit the same as the original. I mean, it’s the same stage and building, some familiar characters, but otherwise, it’s completely new. It’s loud, it’s active, it’s exciting, it’s energizing. It’s not the place to go and watch a quiet show while you nurse the baby and get a break from the heat. It’s called a DANCE PARTY and, boy, do they mean it! Your littles can go in there and actually let loose – get wild and crazy and just have a good time with their favorite, familiar characters.

Directly Engaging

It’s totally immersive and interactive in a “zero fourth wall” level, 3-dimensional-experience kind of way. There is snow, bubbles, confetti strings, falling leaves, and not just at the end, either. The DJ is awesome. She WANTS kids to touch her equipment and get involved. She asks them to dance, to get up and move, she is encouraging and engaging. She has a silly friend who makes things even more fun, as she gets the kids in the audience involved in the process of her performance. There are masks, there is video camera action, and encouragement to just let go and do whatever they want.

 Characters

Don’t worry, just becuase they aren’t puppets, doesn’t mean the favorites are not there gracing both the screen and stage, along with some of the newer faces from the Disney Junior line up. They’re presented to the audience in a whole new, magical way and it totally works!

Visibility

Because much of the action takes place on a screen and on stage with full-size characters, every child in the audience can see them clearly and due to the immersion aspect, they feel genuinely part of the process in getting these characters in the room. Meaning, the little shorties won’t have a problem seeing the characters and they will be even MORE excited to see them since they had a hand in getting them there!

Open for Change

The new experience is done in such a way that I think they COULD change out characters fairly easily, if they wanted to. Either way, I suspect that no two performances are going to be exactly alike and that is where it’s at – variety, constant movement and creativity with authentic, magical moments.

Honoring the Spirit of a Child

High energy. Exciting. Moving. Dancing. Running. Laughing. Playing. Basically, everything it is to be a kid is wrapped up in this show and not only honored but recommended. So often, as parents, we find ourselves asking our children to endure experiences that WE think they will enjoy, hoping they do, knowing they’d rather be doing something else. This show is NOT one of those. It directly speaks to small children in their language – fun, bright colors, laughter, dancing, and most importantly; the allowance to play.

Now, this wouldn’t be an honest review without some minor critiques;

Missing Celebrities 

While we loved the characters they chose, there were a few we’d hoped to see who weren’t to be found. We were surprised by this and I felt others were surprised, as well. Specifically, the most popular; no Elena and no PJ Masks. I assume this is due to licensing, not necessarily anyone’s specific choice, but nevertheless, I was surprised.

Sensory Warning

It may have been a wise decision to put some kind of “sensory trigger” notice somewhere for parents with children who are sensitive to sound, lights or become overly anxious in certain social situations. (I’ll be honest – maybe it was there, I just didn’t see it) Yes, I know it says “dance party” right on the door, but that doesn’t mean that a parent will be expecting a larger than life, colorful, loud and smiling stranger to rush right up to their child with a camera. It might be a good idea to just post a general notice as a head’s up. That way, the parents of these special little ones will know to stick to the middle or back of the audience so they are less likely to be put on the spot.

Let them Dance, but Keep them Close

The fact that the characters are SO engaging and encouraging can actually be a little confusing to the small ones (and from what I saw, parents, as well). One minute they are asking kids to get up and move and join them, get closer, etc., then the next, they had ushers telling kids to go back to their parents or sit down, or go behind the lines or don’t get too close to the stage. I totally get why, this is not a criticism regarding their desire to keep people safe – I totally get it. I just think there needs to be a clearer understanding for both parents and littles to know where the barriers are and, in general, a clearer understanding of what they are and are NOT allowed to do to avoid disappointment and confusion. So, parents – let them dance, just keep them close by.

That’s it. The show was stunning and we loved every minute of it. My favorite part was the spinning. (You’ll see when you get there) My daughter is almost five and absolutely believed that her spinning made the characters appear. The look on her face was the very definition of Disney magic and I literally almost cried. (Okay, fine, not almost… I totally cried.)

Here are a few photos:

A spectacular show with fun, dancing, magic and high energy. My children (even the shy, sensory-sensitive one) left the building excited, energized, and loved it. I’m sure you will not be disappointed!

Six-Year-Old Shot After Being Left Alone In A Parking Lot

Oh, wait, no… that’s not the headline. Sorry, THIS is the headline:

“Mississippi Teens Face Murder Charge For 6-Year-Old Boy Shot In Stolen Car”

By now you might have heard about this horrifying and tragic story:

Three teenagers are facing capital murder charges in the shooting death of a 6-year-old Mississippi boy whose body was recovered following a statewide Amber Alert.

Dwan Diondro Wakefield, 17, Byron McBride, 19, and D’Allen Tyreek Washington, 17, were booked on the charges hours after Kingston Frazier’s body was found inside his mother’s stolen car on Thursday, jailhouse records show.

The child’s mother had said that she left her son asleep in her car when she ran into a Jackson Kroger supermarket around 1 a.m. that morning. When she returned, her car and son were gone, state police have said.

The Madison County coroner said the boy had been shot multiple times, conflicting with previous reports that he had been shot once in his head, Mississippi News Now reported.

Kingston Frazer, age 6
Okay this is the stuff of maternal nightmares and I deeply relate to it, especially as I have a six year old son. I’m saddened to hear this story, it rocked me to the core. My heart goes out to this grieving family as they work through such an unspeakable tragedy.
But, there’s more that must be done, don’t you think? More than just prayers and hearts going out…? I know it’s not socially acceptable, but can we please talk about this? You know, the part of the story no one seems to want to talk about? The fact that somehow, someone thought it was okay to leave a six year old in a car, alone, in a parking lot in the middle of the night??
And BEFORE anyone has time to get all crazy on me, claiming I am not offering the grace and compassion needed in a time like this -Please just wait.
I’m not talking about demonizing or blaming the poor mother for this tragic occurrence. I cannot even begin to understand the level of grief she must be coping with and my heart goes out to her. She is nothing but a victim in this and I’d never, ever place blame upon her head.
I AM however, 100% targeting our continuing culture that thinks it’s totally okay to live by a “meh, it’s fine”, lukewarm parenting process. I’m looking at you, moms who sit there at the park chatting it up with your backs to your kids for an hour, assuming, “well, if they need me they can come and get me”. I’m looking at you, moms who think, “I’m just going to the bank and back, the 8 year old will be fine for 20 minutes home alone”. I’m looking at you, moms who laugh at the moms who “force” their kids to hold hands in crowds and you, mom, who says I’m the crazy one for demanding that my child be with me at all times instead of just letting them walk a mile to the park by themselves becuase, “well, they’re 7 and they know the way, so it’s fine, they have to learn to be independent sometime, right?”
The legal age in Mississippi to leave a child home alone is 12. TWICE THE AGE OF THIS CHILD. Now, I don’t know if there is another, separate law about leaving your children unattended in vehicles in public places, but I’m going to guess that if there is such a law, age six is not the recommended age of independence. So, why would a mother decide going to the store at 1am while her sleeping kindergartener is in the backseat of her car? Well, because our culture says “meh, it’s fine”.
We need to admit that this flippant, vacant, naive parenting culture is a bad idea and remind moms that it’s okay to be maternal. It’s okay to be protective. It’s OUR JOB to be 100% aware of what they are doing at all times. Why? Because BAD THINGS HAPPEN!! This is not fairytale land where only bad things happen to “those other people”. They can happen to you. They can happen to me. They can happen to anyone at any time, in any place – and if we think for one freaking second that it’s okay to let our guard down and turn our backs, we are dead wrong. Bad things happen even when you are hand-holding and keeping your eyes on them 24/7, so what makes you think for one moment that watching them LESS intently will be the least bit helpful?
I don’t blame this poor mama… I blame the mamas before her who set the precedent of acceptance with this type of parenting. We (myself included, I’m not perfect) need to stop accepting this “my comfort comes before your needs” as normal and socially okay mothering.
It isn’t. It’s getting our children killed.
Gorillas, alligators, car thieves turned murderers… all examples of why this complacent parenting doesn’t work and yet, most of us (yes even me) sit here crying about feelings and guilt, finger-shaking those who question while scolding, “well you can’t blame the parents”.
Fine. Don’t blame them. But let’s take a long, hard look at where that blame belongs, shall we?
It belongs squarely on top of our own shoulders when we refuse to analyze the culture of absent minded, lukewarm parenting while hiding behind phrases like,”they deserve grace” and “stop judging, you’re not perfect either”. When we refuse to say NO to this; “well kids have to learn sometime” culture, we are helping to create these situations.
So, let’s just stop right now and make the commitment to stop perpetuating it by “hugging it out” with parents who make bad choices. And I don’t mean the choices like this where something tragic happens, I mean before that – before it comes to this. BEFORE the tragedy. Let’s be honest about it. Stop saying “well every family is different, you guys do you how you see fit” and speak up for these tiny souls who cannot speak for themselves. Unless we do, no one else will and the more we make it trendy and to just accept things like this as “well, terrible accidents happen, it’s no one’s fault”, the more things like this will happen.
My deepest regret, love and prayers go out to the mama of this sweet boy and her entire family. I am truly sorry for her loss. But it IS someone’s fault. And moms – that someone is us.
I promise I will not support a culture that makes mothers feel bad for watching over and protecting their babies at all times, at all ages, in every way possible. I promise I will not support a culture who accepts lukewarm parenting as good enough. This is my vow to you, sweet mama.
I know it won’t feel like enough to ease your grief, but maybe – we can start to put an end this once and for all.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Is this culture not the cause of situations like this? Let’s talk about it. I’d love your opinions and observations.

Demonizing ADHD

There have been a few articles circulating about ADHD lately and I feel the need to talk about it. Primarily, the overall essence floating around on social media is that “ADHD isn’t real” and that our lives and lifestyles are contributing to a lack of focus – it has nothing to do with any disorder, it’s how a child is raised.

While I do understand a bit of how this can be true having studied in depth the “nature vs. nurture” theory while in school, I also see from my own experience that raising two children less than two years apart in the same home with the same food and the same entertainment, schedules, pets and processes have given me one incredibly creative and highly intelligent child with autism and ADHD and another who is ALSO very bright, but appears to be completely normal.

One of the articles I see circulating the social media gauntlet is one discussing how a Texas school “cured” ADHD. The sharp, nearly venomous article pretty much scolds all parents for believing in something as absurd as ADHD when clearly it’s only becuase “big pharma” wants their money. It talks about how they were able to drastically reduce their student’s fidgets and enhance their focus during class with just a “few simple” changes. And THIS means they have “cured” ADHD. Hrmm…. (insert side-eye and a raised eyebrow here…)

While I agree that physical activity, a decrease in simple sugars and a greater allowance for play can decrease some of the obvious markers of ADHD, making these easy changes also decreases the obvious markers of a bored and overstimulated, over-sugared child no matter what is going on inside their brain on a daily basis. To me, reducing ADHD to a series of simple symptoms that literally EVERY SINGLE CHILD experiences (hyperactivity, lack of focus, quick to distraction, easily bored, fidgety and bouncy) is exactly what creates these gross stereotypes and misinformation that cause that demonization to begin with.

ADHD is NOT just about a child who has a hard time sitting still. It’s not just about the child who bounces his knee all afternoon or who daydreams and doodles on his paper during a lecture. It’s more than that and by reducing the complexity of the disorder to these simple, typical “child” behaviors, we are missing the point and the mark entirely.

Another article floating around that I feel is most destructive discusses the viewpoint of a world-renowned doctor. He has several qualifications and letters behind his name that make him the upmost authority on this subject, so folks are going to listen to him. In fact, there is practically no higher authority on this subject due to his tenure at Harvard and the fact he’s considered one of the best since Jung (if you don’t know your psych celebs, that’s kind of a big deal). So, when Jerome Kagan speaks, his word is law to many in the business.

The article features his thoughts on this matter which are:

“…(ADHD) is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million (ADHD-diagnosed) kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.” 

Hrm… The only thing I have a problem with here is the misrepresentation of the article and this doctor’s analysis. Once you get to the bottom, you see he’s not really saying, “there’s no such thing as ADHD”, he’s saying, ADHD is over-diagnosed and doctors are treating symptoms instead of evaluating causes.

Those are two very different statements.

He also complains that doctors are blanket-diagnosing children by using a blanket-statement that all children are evaluated when they do poorly in school. That may largely be the case, but not in all cases and not in our case at all. Liam’s evaluation appointment was made 2 months before he went into school because it was clear at a young age his brain was working on an entirely different level from most other kids his age.

I’m also noticing his assumption that prescribing medication is a prime-motivator, which may be the case for others, but was not for us, either. Liam was evaluated and diagnosed without medication coming up as an option even once. Not even by Kaiser when we had him evaluated there before we had a private behaviorist follow up with a second opinion.

The diagnosis was followed by a series of changes we could make in our home, including pulling him from public education, allowing him to learn the way his mind received information most effectively, working on diet, exercise, various therapy options… never medication.

Most of all, I don’t like the article saying he thinks ADHD a hoax. This implies that parents who KNOW their children have developmental/behavior issues that affect their ability to learn are being taken for a ride and probably idiots who wear tinfoil hats. It immediately discredits parents and therapists who use this diagnosis.

Instead of calling ADHD a hoax, let’s say what is actually going on, what he actually does explain in the article; that ADHD is more difficult to diagnose than most people believe and as a result, it can be misdiagnosed. Medication is used too often, as a way for the parents and teachers to cope with the behavior/learning challenges a child with ADHD faces. Some families strive to use that medication as a tool to be able to implement changes and processes that may actually have a greater, healthier and more powerful, positive impact upon the brain overall, but the sad reality is some do not. They use the medication and then they don’t have to worry about it anymore, they can go about their lives like “normal” with minimal intervention because, well, the meds work, so why go through all that?  

It’s not only inaccurate to use the term “hoax”, but it makes parents look stupid for acknowledging there’s something different about how their children learn and process the world around them. Sure, and yes – it was and is misdiagnosed a great deal. I don’t think anyone would deny this. It was a literal trend in the 80’s, so a whole bunch of children who were just a little more active and inconvenient than others were given the label so they could get on meds and stop bothering the teacher. Yes, that happened, but not always and rarely now that we have such detailed testing processes in place with highly trained specialists who focus their entire careers on these disorders. Sometimes it IS a legit diagnosis. There are plenty of brain scan studies to show there is clearly something different going on in the brains of those who have ADHD and that child and their parents need support. Not the world to say, “oh well that’s a made up thing, so you’re probably just a bad mom and should spank your child more often.”

Mothers of ADHD children need to know there are support systems out there with real information and real troubleshooting techniques that can help. We need to know people see what we see and understand it. We don’t need to be told we’re crazy. We don’t need to feel like we’re not doing a good enough job at home. We do that to ourselves enough, alright? What we need… is to not have a fancy Harvard doctor or some school in Texas discrediting everything we are working for to normalize, educate and help our children achieve their goals in life.

We need updated, accurate information, continuous studies that actually focus on brain patterns, food & chemical interactions and gut health. We need to know that the medication option is available as a last resort, but to have patient and fully trained therapists and physicians to walk us through the process of trying every other option first.

It’s frustrating when people say, “oh well this is the hot new thing, everyone has Autism or ADHD now” as they roll their eyes when you tell them about your children. This perception is 100% WRONG. The reality is, ADHD is NOT a new thing. Doctors as far back as the 18th century have been talking about it, studying it, developing treatments for it and helping patients who struggle with focus/attention and processing challenges.

Now, having said all that – I DO think it’s important not to just blanket the concept of ADHD as the end all be all of diagnosis and leave it at that. There is emerging evidence to support the idea that what we call “ADHD” is actually not just ONE disorder, but is comprised of several different disorders which, when teamed up, manifest as ADHD. This research can be found by looking up Richard Saul, a Chicago-based Neurologist and ADHD specialist. It’s an idea which makes a great deal of sense to many adult ADHDr’s and parents of children who have it, but his delivery of this insight. His research was published in a book called, “ADHD Does Not Exist”. When people who don’t understand and are LOOKING FOR A REASON to demonize ADHDr’s and their parents, a book written by a specialist called “ADHD Does Not Exist” is NOT HELPFUL!!!

Another factor is parents feeling like a regular physician can diagnose their children or that a regular physician can diagnose an adult who feels they may have some ADHD symptoms. They can’t. It takes hours of detailed testing and evaluation to properly diagnose ADHD. We need to stop believing it can be done in during a yearly physical.

Bottom line; We need to stop this narrative. We need to put an end to the “shock verbiage” being used only to hook a reader because sometimes, it doesn’t hook them to actually read the article. All they read is the headline and that it was written by a neurologist, so it must be true. They take the headline and run with it, spreading the lie and perpetuating the misconception that ADHD is not a real thing. This, to them, means parents who claim their children have it are just lazy and probably don’t discipline.

 Oh, one last thing on the medication situation… if therapists would do MORE to make metabolic testing mandatory for ANYone receiving ADHD medication, we could easily rule out the issues of who has the “abnormal dopamine metabolism”. We need to demand more exploration, more testing of the body and analyzation of brain activity rather than just basically eyeballing a child and saying… “hmm, yep – he has 5 out of the 6 boxes checked, so it MUST be ADHD”.

My perspectives on this can basically all be boiled down to these easy concepts:

More testing. More explanation. Less demonization. Less automatic reflex reaction to medicate.

What we want as parents is not acceptance and accommodation for our children. We want solutions so they can live in the real world in real time with their peers. Demonization and denial of their situation does not help us, or them, accomplish this. It only makes it harder.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off? Sort of right? Where do you stand on this topic? Let me know in the comments!

Shame From Within

Saw a video this evening. It hit me harder than I expected.

Here it is, for your reference:

A sad reality of the breastfeeder’s world, something I experienced more times than I can count.

At first, you think “oh it’s ok, I’m respecting their perspective”…

But at some point it hits you- no one ever has to respect yours.

Not ever.

It’s always going to be you who bends while they sit back and nod approvingly at your gracious decision to do “the right thing” to satisfy their comfort zones. They will never have to step one foot toward any sort of middle ground or be given that same choice, the one they give you which is:

Do what I think is right or leave. That is the choice they give you. It’s the only choice. There is no option b or c… just the one. And this is your family. The people who supposedly love and respect you, have your back and honor you…

But do they?

The reality of this question’s true answer hits you like a brick on the head and a stone in the gut.

When it comes to this… it’ll always be you and your sweet baby being given the side-eye, encouraged to cover and given hints like, “wouldn’t it be easier to do that in a private place?” Every action of others to *ahem* HELP you into another room or under a cover feels like they’re saying; “It will be so much easier when you are tucked away in another room and we don’t have to look at this.”

They will feel confident that they really are just ‘helping’ you somehow… like, maybe you didn’t know. They’ll feel good about themselves and their choice to speak out against the vulgarity of nourishing a young child while saving everyone from the uncomfortable experience of seeing a baby eat. The more confident they feel, the more unsure you feel. The more they force compliance for their comfort, the less you feel validated for wanting your own.

They’ll never have to accept that it is okay for you to feed your child as God intended in front of them or their children. It will ALWAYS be you who bends in order not to ruin an event for others.

I wasn’t brave enough to fight an entire room full of my loved ones to stand up for myself and my baby. I knew better. I’d have caved and cried and broken under the pressure. It would have caused family drama I didn’t need or want, so I just… I let them tell me what was “best” and I pretended to be okay with it.

For the record, I wasn’t. Not ever.

Nourishing my child or children (yes, both at once, even!) was never indecent. It was never inappropriate and shame on all of them for making me feel like it was.

To me… Breastfeeding is a sacred right. It’s the gift we have been given to give life to another being then nurture and nourish that being of our own bodies until they no longer ask for it. It’s our responsibility and our privilege to provide this gift of healing, health, immunity and comfort. For anyone to pervert the act of nursing a child by sexualizing it in any way is indecent in itself. Equating it to porn, or some other sexual act, promiscuous behavior or worse: comparing it to defecation by making comments like, “well, pooping is natural and I don’t do it on the street corner” is far more grotesque, degrading and insulting than the act of feeding a baby ever would have been.

But, like I said, I wasn’t that brave. As much as I wanted to, as much as I advocated for it and supported moms who did it, I nursed under a cover or in a quiet room with a locked door at family gatherings because they made it quite clear from the beginning they couldn’t handle it. I just wasn’t in a good enough place mentally to deal with the backlash, so I really felt like I had no choice.

Even in my own home, if company was over, I’d cover for their sake… feeling ashamed of myself as I did so. Remembering all those times I was told, “if you are in someone’s home, you respect their wishes” and waves of depression would wash over me as I realized… no one would respect my wishes, my truth, my perspective… anywhere. Not even in my own home. Someone once told me, “even in my own home, if a non-smoker came over, I would respect them enough not to do it”. This was their way of telling me I should be okay with having to excuse myself from my own living room or use a cover if I wanted to feed my child.

Breastfeeding isn’t like smoking. It doesn’t harm another person by exposing them to it with toxic fumes that cause cancer. All it does is enrich them, educate them, show them the peace and bonding power of unconditional love.

Part of me feels like I failed somehow by not standing up for MY beliefs, even while I try to convince myself I did it for my love of others around me who are more sensitive than I am. In a room full of people who claimed to love me with absolutely zero intention of respecting my perspectives but believed they were entitled to tell me I must satisfy theirs, I was left frozen, compliant, and silent.

Sure, both my babies survived being nursed under a cover. Of course it wasn’t that hard for me to get up and walk 20 feet into another room. It didn’t hurt my child to eat behind a closed door or on a toilet… And I was doing the loving, kind thing, the gracious thing, the sacrifice for others. I should feel good, right? It didn’t “hurt me”, physically, to have to do these things.

I attended countless family occasions over the course of 4 years where I spent 70% or more of that event in a back room nursing a baby by myself with my cell phone as my only company and even then, I was fully covered by a blanket or nursing cover. I didn’t even like to go to parties, because… why? Get myself dressed in uncomfortable clothes and pack to giant bags full of gear and diapers and clothes for the baby, get them ready and in the car… just so I can do exactly what I would be doing at home, by myself, just in a different house, also by myself? “Well, at least there’s cake, and I have that new baby outfit to put them in no one has seen yet, so I guess I’ll go” would eventually be the deciding factor.

The thing is, when you give up your right to parent your way to save another’s feelings over and over again, it stops feeling good after a while. It stops feeling like you are doing the right thing for others and eventually, it just feels like you are bending to appease someone else. Over and over again, you bend until it feels like you are going to break and then… it just feels hurtful. It’s lonely. And for a mom who had postpartum depression and anxiety, lonely isn’t safe. But lonely was easier for everyone else, so the choice was either lonely in a house full of people or lonely at home by myself.

Full disclosure here; not ALL my family made me feel uncomfortable feeding my babies without a cover, and not all the time. My parents were fine with it was just them. If we went over for dinner and no one else was there, I didn’t have to cover. If my sisters were there, just them… I didn’t get told to cover. But, if the sister’s children or husbands were there, it was an automatic expectation that I would. “Oh X is back, let me get your cover for you!”

When my first was about a year old, I was feeding him alone in a closed room while out of town with some of my family and their children. One of the nephews (around 10 years old) came in and was curious… he had questions. In a giant family and church with babies everywhere, he had never once seen a child breastfeeding. I answered his questions and he thought it was neat. It was a beautiful teaching moment. His mother noticed he was in the room and ushered him out quickly with words like, “private” and “inappropriate”. I came out of the room and no one said anything – like it never happened with that hushed tone making it clear we weren’t going to talk about what just happened. I spent the rest of the day feeling like I’d exposed him to something disgusting, vulgar even… it made me feel creepy and gross and then it just made me sad.

That Christmas, my baby was just over a year old and I attended an event in a church and the baby got fussy, so I pulled out my cover to feed him so as not to disturb others with his noises. A family member leaned over and said, “they have a really nice mother’s room with audio of the sanctuary, so you don’t have to do that here if it’s uncomfortable.” Without thinking I said, “I’m not uncomfortable, it’s fine”… then I realized that wasn’t what I was being told. What I was really being told was, “you need to do that in the mother’s room”. So, I got up, made a scene in the isles getting out with my self, my baby, the cover over my neck and the diaper bag, then left the sanctuary to go find this “mother’s room”. When I got there, it was a white walled space, little more than the size of a walk in closet. There was one, small picture on the wall, 2 small rocking chairs facing opposite corners with their backs to one another and an old speaker that quietly broadcasted the events in the sanctuary. I fed my baby without a cover, facing a white cinderblock wall in a room that felt like a prison. When it made me cry, I pushed it off as just part of “baby blues” and tried to recover myself so no one knew that it was upsetting me becuase I didn’t want them to ask. I didn’t want THEM to feel bad. I knew it wouldn’t matter if I did.

Now that my babies are four and six and breastfeeding in public is a thing of the past (milk is for bedtime only), I see things a little more clearly. We have to find a middle ground between respecting others’ needs and ALSO respecting the choices of mothers and the comfort of our babies. There shouldn’t be an automatic expectation that a mother MUST cover or be considered vulgar. There must be some way to bridge this gap.

Feeding a baby shouldn’t feel like you are exposing a stranger or family member to porn. It shouldn’t feel indecent to do it, but this is the culture we perpetuate when we make it uncomfortable for mothers to nurse in mixed company. I eventually learned to accept it. I learned not to allow it to deeply affect me emotionally by repeating how I was being kind to others by doing it. Never because I suddenly liked nursing with a cover or enjoyed forcing my hot toddler to stay under a blanket in the 100+ weather outside, but ONLY because I had no other choice and I was tired of being sad about it. It was easier to comply, so I did. They’d broken me and I realize that now. Like a wild horse, I was coaxed into complacency to make life easier for them, knowing they would never have to step one toe in my shoes to consider my feelings or perspectives.

Now, I understand many mothers prefer to cover. I respect that choice. I respect that for them, it IS a private thing – a sacred thing, not for everyone’s eyes. It’s even a little beautiful, really… but it’s the lack of choice that cannot and should not exist. It’s the outright denial of choice. The zero tolerance expectation of compliance or leave. Cover or you can go home. THAT is what is not okay.

I was once asked, “but… would you really want to nurse in front of your brother in law? Wouldn’t that be weird?” My answer was, “how could I possibly know? Nothing like that has ever been allowed to happen without the cloak of shame covering the entire situation”. I was met with a stunned silence and “well, I think it would be weird to flash my boob at my sister’s husband”. I wanted to say, “it’s not flashing your boob to feed a baby” but… I knew there was no point and maybe they wre right – maybe I’d choose to cover anyway… who knows? I wan’t given an option. Many mothers aren’t and will discontinue breastfeeding due to that lack of support. That shame they feel when trying to nourish their child in front of friends and family causes them to lose interest. To feel like in order to get their lives and family back, they must put their child down and make everyone else happy. The breastfeeding relationship is cut short becuase of others’ judgement.

This is why normalizing breastfeeding is SO important. It’s the need to feel honored, respected and encouraged that is so vital and lacking in our culture today. If a mother WANTAS to choose another option becuase she really want to choose another option, great. But if it’s because she feel shamed, shunned, made to feel like an inconvenience or feel like it’s all just too much trouble becuase of the hoops she must jump through to save everyone else’s tender sensitivities, then NO. No it is NOT okay.

I am so thankful for videos like this that shine a light upon these dark corners of the breastfeeding journey. I truly hope others will see it and realize just how harmful their shame and judgement is and can be for both mother and baby.

Do you have any experiences similar to this? I’d love to hear your stories… the more we express how we feel the more we can change the narrative from one of judgement to one of compassion.

My Favorite “Good Lesson” Children’s Movies

Lately, we’ve seen a lot of junk on TV and in the movies which are targeted toward children. I’m not talking about movies like Deadpool and Logan – THOSE ARE NOT KID’S MOVIES. I’m talking about rated PG and G movies, animated, cute-looking, seems nice on the surface movies that turn out to be horrible. There’s a whole bunch of “please never do this in real life” kind of nonsense that, after a while, is just exhausting to filter. From YouTube gameplay that you THINK will be appropriate for children only to find out it’s a bunch of fart jokes and bad attitude that NO ONE wants their kid repeating (I’m looking at you, FGTV), to crap that is down right terrible and doesn’t even attempt to hide it, (reference: “The Day My Butt Went Psycho”) the stupid is literally everywhere.

It’s surrounding our children 24/7 like a giant, jungle snake with hypnotic eyes lulling our children with the soft words, “trust in me”. If you don’t have time to sit there and watch these shows with your kids, chances are the bad behavior they get in trouble for is coming from these shows. It can get incredibly frustrating for parents and I tell ya, the world of media certainly doesn’t make it easy. Before you know it, you’ve turned into your parents – shielding the kid’s eyes and muting scenes in movies that were supposed to be for kids!

Occasionally, a gleaming gem of goodness shines through the darkness bringing tears of joy and much rejoicing from parents who actually don’t want to raise little monsters no one wants to hang around. They are rare, but when they appear, it’s like a wave of golden sunlight washing over a dingy sidewalk muddy with the rain of a thousand negative media experiences. There is need to celebrate the good things, to lift them up and rejoice in them so the encouragement can show the world what parents really want. Sure, some moms and dads totally don’t care if their kids watch talking buttholes, or shows about destroying their toys for fun, but I’d say the majority of parents, even the ones who don’t filter much, really would rather their children are watching things that enrich their lives rather than tear them down.

This is my personal list of current favorites with a few words about why. Everything on this list is animated. Everything is G or PG at the most. Everything (at the moment) is easily accessible through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or Redbox. Most importantly, everything on this list is something you can allow your child to watch with a clear conscience knowing they will learn lessons that matter.

I’m sure there may be others worthy of this list and if you feel I may have left something out, please don’t hesitate to post below in the comments.

Kubo and the Two Strings:

  • Perseverance when fear makes you want to run
  • Responsibility to family in need
  • Not every choice is easy, right, wrong, or good. Sometimes the best choice is simply the best you can do right then
  • Make the most of every moment – there is opportunity for magic and fun even in the hardest, darkest places
  • Respecting others, even when they look and seem different or unusual to you
  • Believing in yourself and in those who believe in you even when you do not want to listen to them
  • Sometimes parents are right! Boundaries exist for a reason and if your parent gives you a boundary, chances are there is a good reason for it. If you break the rule, be prepared for the consequence!
  • Even the most terrible of monsters are worthy of a second chance
  • Those hardest on you are often the ones who love you most
  • Your physical limitations do not bind you to mediocrity – you are only as weak as you allow yourself to be

Moana:

  • Only YOU define who you are and nothing external can take away your true self unless you allow it
  • You must help yourself before you expect anything from others – never expect a handout before you have at least tried to do it on your own first!
  • The world can be terrible, it can break you down and hurt you – but this does not define you
  • Sometimes we must step beyond our comfort zones in order to find our true purpose
  • Those who love you never truly leave you – their lessons last through many lifetimes and in many forms
  • Honor your elders but also honor the voice inside you – rejecting who you are for the sake of others’ limitations helps no one
  • Trust your intuition but be prepared to be humbled by lessons – nothing worthwhile comes easily!
  • When there is no more path to follow, create one
  • The power to heal, help and fuel the fire in this world is always within you – if you are willing

Trolls:

  • Sarcasm is a bad thing, only when you have lost the divine spark of pure joy within you will sarcasm even make sense
  • Believing in those who don’t seem to deserve it is the most precious gift you can give someone
  • Compassion for others, even when they are different and scary, can save the world for everyone
  • Helping others overcome their trouble is the surest way to make your own troubles go away
  • Always believe that someone loves you, that you matter, that you are worth fighting for
  • Always fight for others to show them how much they matter

Zootopia:

  • Big dreams are hard to achieve – NOT impossible
  • You must work for your successes in life
  • Understanding others’ differences can be the key to your own biggest strength
  • Never, never, ever allow other’s complacency to limit your ambition
  • If you don’t understand someone’s ways, ask them and be willing to learn – don’t make assumptions
  • Judging people based on stereotypes and prejudice will only create more of both – be willing to see more than what you think you know!

The Lego Movie:

  • Everyone is The Special – you just have to believe. Y’know, like a cat poster
  • It’s always okay to be different – sometimes, different saves the world
  • You don’t have to be The Special to be necessary, valuable, powerful and brilliant – you just have to be you
  • If you always look at things with a genuine sense of wonder and optimism, you are far more likely to enjoy life
  • Even the Lord Business in your life deserves to understand how important he is – encourage the hardest of hearts and you are likely to find an ally, not an enemy
  • Batman is kind of a jerk
  • Everything is awesome

The Princess and the Frog:

  • Never give up the dream you were born with
  • Remember that hard work grants wishes – not wishing on stars
  • The easy way is almost always the wrong way and will undo what work you’ve already put in
  • Smooth talkers have had lots of practice lying to people. Know when you are being played
  • Sometimes the universe/God/magic will give you exactly what you want, but only after you’ve worked for it
  • Spreading light, love and joy to others could save their lives.
  • Even if you are up against something a thousand times bigger than you, never stop fighting for what is right

The Book of Life:

  • Even if the world thinks you are crazy, if your convictions side with compassion, it is NEVER the wrong decision
  • Music heals. Period.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how we learn from them that matters
  • Every life is precious
  • Our loved ones are never truly gone, so long as we remember them
  • The Day of the Dead, or, Día de los Muertos, is not a holiday to fear, it’s not “worshipping the dead” or anything creepy whatsoever. It’s a holiday to remember our ancestors, to rejoice in where we have come from and to honor that history with promise to live our own lives to the fullest

Kung Fu Panda

  • We always say “when I’m ready”, right? Well, you will never “be ready”. Just do it, believe you can, trust your instincts and live to your potential
  • Give it time when you make life decisions
  • Don’t allow fear and self-doubt to rule your mind
  • Limiting yourself because of your expectations can keep you from achieving exactly what you wish you could do
  • Be an optimist because, why not? What good does it do you to be angry, bitter and raging all the time? Have fun!
  • Be yourself in all things. You are a gift and your gifts are yours to cultivate and share with the world
  • Sometimes people reject our insane desires out of fear of loss – don’t begrudge them, just love them anyway and show them they won’t lose you

Paranorman

  • The gifts that make you different are also the gifts that make you incredible
  • Just because someone doesn’t understand the beauty of your magic doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful
  • Always show kindness
  • Remember that those who are cruel are often those who were denied the love they deny others
  • Break the cycle of violence in any situation
  • Be fearless in the face of darkness, especially if you know you can help bring peace into someone’s life
  • You are NEVER too young to stand up for what is right
  • Zombies are not always evil – sometimes, they are just sad and full of regret
  • Mob-mentality, especially when a person or group is targeted, is always more dangerous than the person they fear

Hotel Transilvania & Hotel Transilvania 2

  • Being cautious is responsible parenting – being controllingly manipulative because you are scared is not and can have the exact opposite response
  • Be accepting of others – different cultures, different styles, different music and diet… even if they drink blood and eat mealworms on their pancakes, they are still worthy of love and respect
  • The fewer expectations you have in life the happier you will be
  • Allow each moment to unfold in front of you and roll with it – you may just end up somewhere incredible you never thought existed
  • Never, never, EVER lie to a mother about what you are doing with her child
  • Accept people for who they are, not who you wish them to be
  • If you have to face a family member with prejudice with your mixed marriage and child, it’s best not to do that at a giant family gathering surrounded by literally everyone you know

Rise of the Guardians

  • See the wonder in all things
  • Have a little fun, even when things are so scary and hard that fun is the last thing on your mind
  • Believe in magic. Believe in the impossible. Believe that YOU can create both. Always.
  • Sometimes all someone needs is for you to believe in them – be that person whenever possible
  • Everyone has value and a purpose in this world and it is our duty to find it and live it to the fullest
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt, even when you would rather be angry first
  • Be willing to learn more about yourself – don’t get held up by who you THINK you are – allow yourself to grow, change and be more than you ever thought possible
  • If someone offers you a chance at greatness, trust that they see something in you that is worthy and take the offer

Honorable Mention Short Story/Book Adaptations & TV Show List:

Room on the Broom

  • Friendships can change and grow, but that doesn’t mean they are lost
  • Never give up on your friends – especially when they need you most
  • Generosity creates the best kind of magic – it benefits everyone!
  • Be grateful for those who make an effort to be in your life, even when it’s not always convenient

Niko and the Sword of Light

  • People with mohawks can be awesome
  • Even when you are the only person who cares, always speak proper English and use educated words
  • Truth and light will always conquer darkness – it may take a while, but with faith, it will overcome
  • Rash, unwise decisions may lead you down the wrong path, but if you learned a valuable lesson from it, maybe it wasn’t so wrong after all!
  • It does not take violence toward another in order to overcome their darkness. Sometimes, all it takes is to show them the light
  • Learn to take care of yourself and protect what you value most but never use those skills to harm others or you become the darkness you are trying to destroy
  • Attitude is everything! Being confident and brave because you understand your purpose is great – but only if you are also humble and willing to continue growing
  • Nasty, whining, snarky attitude is only done by the villains

Bookaboo

  • A reading show featuring celebrities who read books to a rockstar dog
  • Each book chosen has a great lesson to teach
  • Each guest shares their story to help Bookaboo with his performances
  • Fun music, great guests, whimsical stories

Ernest and Celestine

  • Just because something is allowed, doesn’t mean you should do it! Don’t confuse legal with correct!
  • It’s okay to reject the world you live in if that world is full of untruths and cruelty
  • Finding friendship in unlikely places can change the world for everyone – if you are brave enough
  • If you know something is right, stick to it no matter what

So that’s my list for today. I left out several and may do another one of these soon. What are your favorite books and movies with the best life lessons?

Complete Disclosure – A Terrible Mom Moment

We’ve all had them. Those terrible moments. The ones we hope no one ever finds out about becuase if they did… Those moments that fill us with mom guilt and make us feel like the worst mom on the planet can be awful to bear. For me, it feels even worse becuase, well, I’m the Cautious freaking Mom and I should not be making stupid mistakes like this. I’m supposed to be the example of safe, positive, nonviolent, attachment parenting – not the one making idiot mistakes becuase I didn’t read something carefully enough. But here we are and as I held my sleeping four year old sobbing over my stupid mistake with my tears falling upon her soft, silent cheeks, I realized… much to my own horror… I was going to share this. I had to share this. This is one of those moments that could happen to anyone – and it probably has – but no one wants to admit it. It’s important to share these stories. Moms have a right to know that not all is rainbows and craft time, right? Of course right. So, here’s the story.

Both of the kids have had slight, annoying allergy/cold-like symptoms. I’ve been assisting their healing through the use of essential oils consistently both topically and aromatically, but these symptoms kept lingering! Each morning in spite of the running humidifier and diffusor with eucalyptus, Breathe blend, oregano, melaleuca and thyme over their heads each night, they both woke stuffy-headed, draining substantially and coughing deeply. After about 7 days of this, I called the doctor and made a phone appointment to discuss their symptoms and figure out what to do.

The doctor said exactly what I had already suspected; lingering sinus drainage due to a slight virus or allergies. (Glad the phone appointments are free!) He suggested the use of Benadryl before bed to help dry out excess mucus in the night, thus cutting down on the drainage and coughing in the morning. The recommended dosage for both kids was 5ML at bedtime. No sweat, right?

The day had been a rough one. Neither of them felt great, neither did I for that matter… I’d been fighting migraine symptoms all day and I was exhausted. My brain was loopy, scattered and erratic. My vision is always a little weird that first few days before the migraine actually hits hard, so I was doing my best just to get through the day. We had our homeschool lessons, cleaning house time, a movie after dinner and I was looking forward to bed because my eyes wouldn’t focus very well on much of anything.

So, 8:30pm rolls around and I decide it’s time to dose them up and get them to bed. I go into the kitchen and pull down the bottle of children’s Benadryl which had the measuring cup it was purchased with still on top. I don’t prefer using the cups, so I never use them. Even though both are old enough NOT to use the syringes becuase I feel like I can get a better handle on making them drink it when I can shove the thing in and force them to swallow. This night for some reason, I could not for the life of me find a single other measuring device to put the medication in so I was forced to use the cup I’d never used. I wasn’t super thrilled with that because I know how awful this stuff tastes and I felt terrible for making them drink it. I should also mention, my kids haven’t been sick enough to require medication of any kind in almost a year, so even giving them meds was something I felt a bit out of practice at. I expected a gross, sticky mess as both of them were likely to resist me while I pressed the tiny cup to their curled lips, but I didn’t have a choice so I did it anyway.

I looked at the cup and all the measurements as best I could with my foggy brain and I couldn’t see a single line that said 5ml. I did find what I thought said 4ml, and thought, “well that’s weird, but that’s ok- they can have a bit less of a dose than suggested, it won’t hurt them to get too little.”

It seemed like a lot to me – 5ml’s would have gone all the way to the top if the line was at 4ml’s… but, it’s been a year since either of them have had any medicine and I kind of remembered the last time I gave them Tylenol it went to the top of the cup, too, so I guess it’s fine… (rationalizing internal dialogue that aught to have made me stop right there and double check, but my hazy brain said “nah, it’s probably fine)

Probably fine. I should have known it wasn’t. I clearly did know… somewhere in me, I knew it was too much but I second guessed my intuition which was clearly trying desperately to make me look again. I passed it off as nothing. I shoo’d the angel from my shoulder and gave the full cup of “4ml’s” to them anyway.

Poor Punkin hated it.. it took almost a full minute to get her to do it but she did… I told her it would help her. I told her it would make her feel better in the morning. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “okay, mommy”.

So much faith. Such undying, unquestioning trust.

She finished her cup of medicine and I gave her a big hug, told her she did great and gave her a popsicle. She excitedly shouted “YAY!” and ran off to the living room telling her brother to come get his medicine so he could have a popsicle, too.

The Padawan walked in with hesitation and as soon as he saw the bottle, he started crying and whining and turned the other way to leave the kitchen. He was ushered back in and I told him to trust me.

I told him to trust me. Ugh.

So, again just like his sister, he did. He took a tiny sip and almost gagged, so I gave him a minute to catch his breath and take a drink of water. Then, I held the rest to his lips and as I did so, I noticed almost out of the corner of my eye that at the top of the cup, there was the fill line and it read 4tsp. At first my brain didn’t register what had happened and then the screaming truth of it welled up like a volcano and I snatched the cup back and away from him, told him he was done, good job, and tossed the remaining pink goo into the sink to wash down and away…

FOUR TEASPOONS. I was frantic. “Four teaspoons” I thought, how many ml’s is in a teaspoon? Oh God I just overdosed my kids on a sedative.

I OD’d MY KIDS – BOTH OF THEM.

I looked at the cup again, completely confused and now full of adrenaline, my hands shaking. How could this have happened?? How did I mistake “4 tsp” for “5ml”??

Can you see what I did? I read it backwards. I have no idea how or why, but my brain saw it this way and read “mL ____4”.

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I could feel the terror tears welling up and I swallowed them. I didn’t have time for that. I became frantic for the phone… I had to call poison control, I had no idea what to do! My husband tossed me his phone because mine was, of course, annoyingly nowhere.

I called the number on the magnate that has been in the same place on my fridge since the week my son was born. I took a deep breath, and waited for them to pick up. A lady with a kind-sounding voice answered and I gave her the information in as calm a voice as I could. I could hear her smiling. She told me it hadn’t been enough to send us to the ER. She said it was 4x the dosage recommendation, but it was not a toxic dosage and there was no need to consider this an emergency.

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Just as I was about to sigh with relief, she said; “that being said, there are a few things you are going to need to do”.

My heart stopped and I held my breath. Here we go.

“You’ll want to closely monitor them through the night to make sure they are able to breathe.” She went on; “Because they have been given such a high dosage of a medication that is a sedative, they will need to be kept awake for the next hour. This will be difficult… do it anyway, any way you can. After about an hour has passed, you can go ahead and let them sleep but you will need to ensure they are not sleeping too deeply.” She let me know I would need to wake them every hour for the first four hours after they were allowed to sleep to ensure they didn’t fall into a dangerous sleep that could “hurt them, cause them to stop breathing or possibly worse.”

“POSSIBLY WORSE?!” I exclaimed. I mean, What could possibly be worse than not breathing!? (I didn’t say that bit out loud, though. I already knew I sounded like a nutcase, so I let that one go and just listened to her directions.)

If they cannot be revived, go to the ER. If they stop breathing, go to the ER. If they wake but seem disoriented, have difficulties breathing, seem to gasp for air or can’t see across the room, stumble as though drunk and cannot seem to right themselves or if they begin to vomit for longer than an hour, go to the ER.

I’m certain she said some other things, but my mind was racing and I was doing all I could to pay attention to her. I told her I would do all those things and she told me it was all going to be okay, that they would sleep well through the night and could possibly be a bit groggy the next day, but otherwise fine. I nodded and said “that makes sense” or some automatic response like that, told her thank you and she hung up.

I put the phone down and just stood there a moment holding my breath. I watched them from across the room… completely oblivious and running around happy, laughing and teasing each other like nothing had happened. So much innocent trust… and I’d failed them over something as easy as reading a label backwards.

I tried to sit down with them and couldn’t relax. I put some oils on me for calming the nerves and mental clarity hoping I could just decompress and quiet my mind enough to think rationally instead of reactionarily (I don’t think that’s a word, but you get it).

I told the husband we needed to keep them awake for an hour. By that time, it was almost 9pm. I told the Padawan he could play his video games – something he rarely gets to do after dinner. I knew this would keep him excited and engaged and there wasn’t much a chance of him passing out while playing. Also, I had realized my error as I was administering it to him, so he only got about 2 1/2 tsp instead of the full cup.

The Punkin was much harder. She had gotten the full dose of 20ml’s and within about five minutes, she was crying saying she wanted to sleep. I offered her a bowl of ice cream and she perked right up excited at this late-night surprise treat.

After that, all I could do was wait for it to kick in. She finished her ice cream, he continued to play his racing game with daddy and everything seemed like it might just be fine, no issues at all, but I was still in a heightened state of panic. See, since before my son was born, I carried a secret fear of harming my children through some stupid mistake. After my first child was born, I developed severe postpartum anxiety – all focusing around the fears of what terrible thing might happen to them. So, when I say I was anxious, I don’t just mean things like this affect me like any normal mom who can drink a glass of wine and realize that everything really is okay. Things like this deeply, profoundly hurdle my spirit to the floor and stomp on it with steel-toed New Rock boots until I can’t breathe.

I was far from okay.

I went to the back room where I could hide in my fear and grief and I thought… I need help. I need prayer. I need to calm the #$%^& down before I lose my mind. I started crying because I was ashamed. Too ashamed to tell anyone what an idiot I’d been. I couldn’t post it on my own mother’s support page or I’d look like a fraud. The Cautious Mom wasn’t very cautious and she almost killed her kids, please support her and try to hide your rising eyebrow of judgement. Ugh.. No. So, I went to Facebook and I posted it in a secret mother’s group for moms in the church mom/toddler playdate group I’m in. I asked for prayers.. something I rarely do. I felt guilty for doing it, (do I deserve prayer?) but I did it anyway.

As I posted, Punkin walked in the bedroom crying. She didn’t know why she was crying, she said. She just felt weird and scared and had to go potty. So I helped her do that and when she got up, she almost fell down. She tried to walk across the room and seemed disoriented, like the room was spinning and she couldn’t get a handle on where she was or which way to go. I took her hand and she fell into my lap crying and saying, “mama I’m just so tired and I feel terrible”.

I lost it at that point. I grabbed my phone again and called the advice line at the hospital. While waiting on hold, I let her nurse and she quickly fell into a deep sleep with her whole body somehow feeling heavier than normal… even heavier than when sleeping, somehow it seemed different with a new level of weight to her tiny body that pressed down upon me with the gravity of my mistake.

Nurse advice picked up. I told them what happened. She wasn’t nice. She sighed heavily when I told her how it had happened, as though all my self-deprecating guilt was 100% valid and deserved. I agreed, so I didn’t try to stick up for myself when she made me feel small and stupid. She told me the Poison Control folks were the highest level of authority so she couldn’t give me any different information, that she wasn’t allowed to contradict them. I explained I wan’t really looking to contradict them, but it’s been an hour since then and this just happened and I want to make sure this isn’t the kind of “disoriented” they were talking about that needed to be seen in the ER. She sighed irritated again. “Well, I don’t know what you want me to tell you”. I tried to get a bit more stern through my shaking voice and said, “I just want to know if you think it’s safe to leave them at home or if you think I should take them in tonight. Is it worth the drive in the worst rainstorm we’ve had in years for me to pack them in the car at 9pm and drive 45 miles to the closest emergency room? Or do I need to just calm down and relax?”

“If you feel like you should go, then go.” Her answer was curt, unemotional, annoyed. I swear, I wanted to throw my phone across the room. I told her thank you and hung up. My passed out, drugged up child was breathing deeply and heavily in my arms completely unaware of what had happened. I started bawling. My tears covered her sweet face in salt water before I realized and I carried her out into the living room, sat her up against a pillow and watched her.

She looked so peaceful and I remember wishing I could feel at peace, too.

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Soon after, the Padawan began to doze. I got him a pillow and blanket and made sure he was sleeping sitting up. It was now about 10:30pm and I realized there was no way I was going to be able to sleep in my bed with them out on the couch and there was no way I was going to be able to keep them sitting up if I had them in bed with us. I was sleeping on the couch with them. The husband went to sleep in the bedroom alone and I sat between my two, sleeping beauties all night. Once I was settled and he was asleep, I went back to Facebook to find the most beautiful, loving, compassionate rally round me. I saw statements reaffirming that I was a good mom, stories relaying similar situations they had been in, applauding me for my quick thinking to call Poison Control. Then I saw someone’s comment, someone I didn’t know personally… she wrote; “Mistakes happen. We have all made them at one point or another! Grace upon grace!” All the women responding to my post were so full of love, prayer and seemed honestly overjoyed to deliver prayer for me and my babies was overwhelming. I started crying again… thankful, so thankful for this group of mothers and the “grace upon grace” they so freely offered.

It took me till about 1:30am to calm down enough to nod off myself… 4 1/2 hours after I’d given them the medicine. I woke again a few hours later to reposition them both to make sure they weren’t slumped over and then went back to sleep.

When they woke up, they were totally fine and had zero clue what had happened. The Punkin had no memory of the experience or her episode before she went to sleep. The Padawan seemed completely fine and had no idea. Neither of them seemed hung over, but both were starving and ready to get up and on with their day by 7am.

It was over. I could breathe. They were fine. My mistake was not life-threatening, but I’d learned a valuable lesson.  Several, in fact, worth sharing with you.

1; Trust your intuition. Always. Always. Always. Even if you’ve already double checked. If something tells you to do it again – JUST DO IT AGAIN.

2; Double check dosages and labels and lines on the cups and medication administration tools. Especially if you are dyslexic when you have migraines.

3; The combination of lavender, patchouli, vetiver, Balance blend and Serenity blend works just as well as a prescription-level medication for nervousness.

4; It’s always okay to ask for prayer. Even if you don’t do it often or feel deserving. It’s always okay.

5; It really will be okay.

6; Things like this really can happen to anyone and it doesn’t make you a bad person or a negligent parent. Stuff just happens sometimes.

7; It’s okay to forgive yourself and most importantly,

8; it’s okay to talk about it.

I now know others who have been through similar and even far worse situations than this and I am certain I’d never have known I wasn’t the only one if I hadn’t shared my story first. So, the reason I am sharing it now with you is to show you that I know how it feels to make stupid mistakes that can hurt your kids. I know what it’s like to feel that guilt. I know what it is to think “eh, it’s probably fine” and then realize you were terribly wrong. You need to know that you are still a good mom. You are still trustworthy. You are still amazing. Everything is going to be okay. Even if it’s bleak in the moment, or even for days after… things will be okay.