No where have I found one yet for “Quirky”. Stop telling me my kid is quirky. If one more person including, social workers, psychologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, teachers, priests or even the garbage man told me, “Don’t worry he is fine, he is just ‘QUIRKY” I swear I was going to rip off their lips so they could never speak again.
A mother’s intuition runs deep, and often we question it because field experts, (okay maybe the garbage man, wasn’t considered a field expert, but the rest of them were in my mind), would provide information that while technically correct, just didn’t “feel” like it was spot on for our kids.
My “gut” was only capable of telling me something was off, it didn’t allow me to know what the “off” was. Very early on in the game of parenting our pediatrician shared the one thing he learned very early in his 50 year plus practice. Listen to a mother, she knows her child.
He explained “Most often I can diagnosis solely upon what a mother reports, I then do a physical exam to confirm what I am thinking. He said, “never doubt your mothers intuition, more often than not will be right.” Thank you Doc, words to live by, and they probably saved our sons life.
My son was a c-section baby because he was breech, in retrospect I should have known the future was going to be dicey, he obviously wasn’t ready to meet the world and literally put his feet out to stop it. Despite his in-utero gymnastics, he was born healthy, and general was a very easy baby, this kid was totally playing me, I now know.
The mother’s intuition kicked in when he was a toddler. He went through the terrible 2’s, but he was an overachiever at it. I always felt his responses were disproportional to the event, but then again everyone told me, he is a boy, he is toddler, relax, he is normal.
Yes, he was “normal”. He couldn’t be in a bathroom when you flushed the toilet, it was too loud. I know we had the “good toilets” the ones where you could flush golf balls down and all would be okay, but seriously it wasn’t that loud. He hated tags in his clothes and god forbid you try to alter a routine he went ape shit. If we said we were going to the playground he had to go, it didn’t matter that it was the middle of a hail storm. Flexible this kids was NOT. Motherhood wasn’t feeling so great to me. Where were those cute kids on the Toys R. Us commercials, they were always happy.
He was strong willed, brilliant, and impulsive. I learned very quickly if you didn’t have an eye on him at all times, it wasn’t going end well. I realized this during a routine visit to the CVS to pick up a prescription, for his then 6 week old brother, whom I was lugging around in that car seat carrier that felt like it weighed 200 pounds.
As you may know the pharmacy is always at the back of the store. So as I am picking up my prescription, he starts to move slowly to toward the entrance door. I told him, no stay with mommy. I am not kidding when I say he stopped, looked me dead in the eye, smirked, and ran like a bat out of hell toward the front door. My eyes became huge, and big ole post pregnancy c-section mom, dragging the car seat carrier, screaming, Stop him, at the top of my lungs while trying to catch up with him. He passed no less than three people who did nothing but watch him run, and then me plod after him. Do you know that little bugger made it out the front door, and as soon as his passed the sliding doors, he stopped and looked at me and smiled. Yeah he smiled alright, as I dragged him by the arm back to the pharmacy, and wondered what I did to deserve this.
Oh, it is funny I know, but repeat scenarios like every day and it was exhausting, and not very funny. Not a week passed where my phone didn’t light up with the schools phone number. I will honestly tell you, I would stare at the number, and take a deep breath, and then put on the unconcerned mom voice for whoever was calling me; you pick, the nurse, the teacher, the principal, hey even the gym teacher got in on it. This kid living on the red in the light signal behavior charts.
If I felt like total crap, I could only imagine what he was feeling being in the direct path of all these people. By second grade he had developed a reputation as the difficult child. He would never get into real trouble but “quirky” trouble. He couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, he didn’t like to follow directions, especially if they didn’t make sense, in retrospect I see, he was me as a child.
The straw that broke the camels back involved chess of all things. Yes, chess the board game. We enrolled him in an after school chess class because he liked it and apparently was quite good at it. Unfortunately the rule was, you had to sit while you played, he couldn’t or wouldn’t. He liked to stand and watch others after he had his turn. He came home one day and announced he had been thrown out of chess, and he was to never ever ever come back.
Oh, my little drama queen. I told him of course Mr. X didn’t say that, I am sure he said something else. What 7 year old can get a story right, right? Ready for this, he didn’t. I called the chess teacher who confirmed almost verbatim what my child had reported. He said he can’t follow the rules and he is the most difficult child he has ever had, he is not permitted to return, nor enroll in any class he would teach again. OMG, talk about weighing a mother down, if I had a fainting couch I would have landed right on it. Okay, when your kid gets tossed from chess class, and that is the response, we are way, way beyond quirky. Something is wrong.
Solution oriented mom kicked into gear. I was going to find out what was going on no matter who it killed, and by God, I almost did, that is, I almost destroyed my son and our relationship in the process. Ultimately we had him evaluated, and I was convinced he was, pick any of the diagnosis’s that were popular then; ASD, OCD, Aspergers, Autism, if leoprosy was one of them I would have thought he had that as well. I didn’t care what the diagnosis was, just tell me what it is so we can start to work on helping him and us. I believe not having a diagnosis is way harder than dealing with a difficult diagnosis.
His evaluation cleared him of every, including leprosy. The psychologist said, well I have some good news and bad news, which do you want first? Duh, good news please, I never get that, give it to me and let me savor it for a moment before you whack me on the head with a mallet, I was thinking.
Good news was he had a very high IQ, and bad news was he also had Adhd. I was like, winner winner chicken dinner- my kid wasn’t stupid and we had a diagnosis. I was a mom on top of the world, waiving my hands in the air, saying oh yeah, oh yeah. Now how do we fix this shit?
So much easier said than done. Over the course of the next six years, we tried counseling, executive function coaching, processing coaching, parent training (oh that one wasn’t pretty at the time, lets just say I wasn’t very open to that one), mentors, yelling, screaming, punishing, acting like the police, threatening, and being everything but empathetic, compassionate or understanding. We tried every drug made for adhd, he would be a little better but never as good and I thought he deserved to be.
By this time, friends were foreign for him, everyday was a litany of complaints and stories of how everything was everyone elses fault, and he was never wrong, shall I go on? My mother intuition kept saying there is something else wrong with him, it is not just ADHD, but no one would or could help. Our psychiatrist at the time had said, He is just a quirky kid, I don’t know what else to do, we tired all the medications available, I think this is as good as it is going to get. Oh, no. You are not giving up on my kid, let me tell you. I may not know what is wrong with him, but I know something is. Over the course of the next 6 years we took him to no less than 10 mental health professionals begging for guidance. Every one of them told me he had adhd and was quirky. WTF is quirky, what the is ICD-10 for quirky, someone please tell me.
The next two years from 13 to 14 were wrought with oppositional defiance, destruction to walls and doors, verbal abuse, terrible family relationships, siblings hating each other, spouses hanging on for dear life, me just wanting to run away. We tried to avoid family gatherings, it was too hard. Family members would look at us, like we were horrible parents. We were constantly asked, why doesn’t he want to socialize with everyone else? Why is he doing this? Why is he doing that.? It became exhausting and hurtful and we started to retreat. The anticipation of the holidays and being subjected to that was overwhelming and depressing. I preferred my messed up little life to stay in the secret confines of my dysfunctional home. To say we were all at a point of not communicating would have been an understatement, we were living like people in a boarding house with a common kitchen. There was no talking, laughing, nothing, only venomous words between whomever was bold or stupid enough to speak out loud. In mere seconds we all turned to vultures attacking the speaker.
The unofficial motto of my family became, “Keep the Peace with him at all costs.” We walked on eggshells 24/7. This sucked, and the reality was, we weren’t even at rock bottom yet………