We took all three kids to a nice restaurant for dinner. We've seen other people do it. Older kids quietly sitting, coloring, playing on the iPhone, maybe even chatting with a sibling.
Since my children have "voice modulation" problems (i.e., they are loud enough to make your ears bleed), there's never anything quiet about them. Even a regular conversation with them is like being in a noisy bar, yelling pleasantries at each other. Their volume is always set at 12 when the rest of the universe operates at a 7.
"Pass the salt" is "PASS THE SALT."
So, so loud.
As the older two were happily yelling over each other, number three was sitting yelling all about his great day at school. Our waiter, a young, hip, tattooed guy who shaves his head to be cool (not to detract from his baldness) tried to be nice. He asked the kids what they wanted and my daughter screamed her order. Even though the restaurant was quiet. It's her way. She continues to abuse her vocal cords mercilessly. Child one has yelled so much for so long, he sounds like Demi Moore. After hipster waiter kindly brought us our alcoholic beverages, we apologized for the loud chaos of our children. He responded: "No worries, dude, it's great birth control for a young guy like me".
I felt accomplished. We're a walking PSA for safe sex.
We medicate our children. We take them to physicians who specialize in figuring out the right cocktail of drugs so they can function in the environment we place them in, and succeed. We chose to place them in a conventional school and live in a conventional community. I often wonder what life would be like if we lived on a farm in Arkansas and there was no school, no afterschool activities, no birthday parties or play dates my kids had to participate in. Places where they have to fit in and behave in a semi-acceptable way. In this Arkansas fantasy, my kids would wake up and run in a field, climb trees and jump into a pond. They would be happy.
I would be miserable.
I don't medicate my kids solely because the environment we place them in doesn't tolerate loud, chaotic, hyperactive children. I can't either. It's like being stuck at a rave when you really just want to be in a library. If you're a person who doesn't have sensory issues, living with loud, frenetic people is hard. I've worn earplugs in my house, I've hidden downstairs or in the bathroom, I go to work happily....just to have some quiet.
I don't medicate my kids to mute them, so lest anyone starts frantically typing an angry response to this about how kids shouldn't be silenced and how selfish a mother I am- relax and keep reading. It's not only about the volume. My kids have pretty severe ADHD. Without medication, they can not function in school. Home is not much better either. Without meds, they operate only on a high/loud/fast/physical setting. They run, don't walk, everywhere. From the bathroom to the bedroom, it's a run, then a jumping leap and roll, ending with a knee slide through the door. That's how they get from point A to point B no matter how close the distance. Eating is shoving food in, singing, rocking, interrupting. Watching TV or playing on the iPad is interrupted every 2-3 minutes with a couch flip or a pile-on whoever happens to be sitting next to them. Throw a random loud song in there and you have a typical 30 minutes in my house.
In order for my kids to learn anything in school, they need to quiet down all the noise and make room for the information. They need to be able to read a page line by line and not skip words quickly because they can't slow down. They need to take pause for just a nanosecond before blurting answers out. Before reaching out their arms to touch/pat/kick their classmate. If they can't chill out, adults (me being the first one) start to get annoyed. They start to criticize, correct, stop the offensive behavior. This doesn't work. My kids can hear "stop" 40,000 times a day. Obviously they haven't stopped. It's like telling someone to stop sneezing. My kids can't stop sneezing so their entire day is full of "No", "Stop", "Take a break", ""Get out". Their evening at home is full of the same. There's no time or space for words of encouragement and validation. That, in my mind, is so unfair to them. It's irresponsible for us parents to put them in a position to fail. To have them not able to receive the validation crucial for developing into a sane member of society. My kids would live a life of "STOP THAT!" if they weren't medicated. How destructive is that for children to only hear negative commands that, by the way- they can't accomplish.
My kids also get medicated to help me mother them and remain somewhat sane. That may not be an official indication for focalin or adderal, but believe me- it should be.
So we decided to medicate our kids because we didn't want them to feel defeated and because I wanted to keep living in my house and not blow my brains out.
Both reasons are equally important for this family to function.
There's no shame in this. My house is too loud for shame to live in.
My kids are well adjusted, happy, semi-normal, VERY LOUD, medicated children. Most of the time, no one is defeated.