Archive | ADHD RSS feed for this section

The Sound of Music, or how to reach a comfortable compromise

9 Mar

After much discussion, where my husband and I disagreed on whether we should go or not, we compromised and decided not to go to the theatre to watch the Sound of Music. I was the one rooting for ‘not going’. It wasn’t that I did not want to go – I love the theatre, any kind of show: ballet, opera, plays, musical, one-man show – but rather, it was the financial exercise that was more of a stumbling block. My husband calls me stingy. I like to think of myself more as a ‘conservative spender’.

Killian, baffled.

Killian, baffled.

My daughter and I have been to the theatre together before. We used to take her to the ballet every December, we went to Potted Potter last year (which we absolutely loved loved loved!!) and recently we went to Sleeping Beauty on Ice (freebie tickets, mind you) What a thrill!! But my boys have never experienced the theatre yet, except for children’s theatre. My reasoning for not taking them to Sound of Music was that I was not convinced I wanted to pay R300 for a ticket to take them to a two and a half hour play, and have them moan half way through the show because they are bored, tired or both. Call me stingy, I don’t really care!

Then, a friend gifted us with two tickets to go and watch the Sound of Music. What is that? Didn’t my friend know that we had found a comfortable compromise already? My husband and I had reached a decision to ‘not go’, but now the discussion was back on the table. “You go with one of the boys” I said, being totally selfless and loving and kind. No, the husband said. I really think we must take all the kids. ALL the kids? ALL the kids.

Matt, all dressed up.

Matt, all dressed up.

So reaching a new settlement in deciding to ‘ALL go’, we booked three extra tickets. Given that we couldn’t book the three extra tickets next to the gifted two, I nagged enough and we chose seats that were slightly more towards the back and therefore cheaper. I also convinced Phillip that the three boys should sit together while the two civilised girls will watch the show peacefully (thank you selfless husband).

I was so sure that this theatre experience would backfire on us him, that I even agreed to forfeit a previous bet prize if I was proven wrong in thinking that the boys would not cope. That’s right, my husband owed me – or so I thought.

Thursday 8pm came and excitement rose. Many questions were asked (what, where, when, how long, who and why), they were asked more than once (thank you ADHD child for testing my patience at every corner). And finally Artscape, here we came.

The show was amazing. The singing is breath-taking (the main nun… what a voice!), the acting is of a very high-standard, the decor is very well done and the story is beautifully arranged. We laughed, we cried, we clapped, we stood up and clapped some more. The boys’ first experience to the theatre could not have been better selected. I’m so glad my husband knows better than me, sometimes. Words can not do justice to the show and, if you can afford it, and if it won’t create discord within your family, spoil yourself, go and enjoy this show. You won’t regret it!!

Léa. Waiting in anticipation

Léa, waiting in anticipation and reading from the other spectators’ program.

Did I mention that I forfeited a bet?? Well for this time, I didn’t mind being proven wrong.

Just this time.

French kids don’t have ADHD? Well, mine does.

22 Jun

An article from Psychology Today was published last year. It was called “Why French kids don’t have ADHD” and it resurfaced a couple of weeks ago on Facebook.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd

Now you might not know me at all or maybe just a little but you should at least know these 2 things about me:

1. I’m french.

2. I have a kid with ADHD.

Obviously, it appears to be a shaky start for the writer of this article because I am the living proof that French kids can have ADHD. Maybe it is because we live in a plagued-by-ADD South Africa, or maybe because we are the exception to the rule – since French love exceptions. 

A few of my friends shared that article with me and wanted to know whether it’s true (Don’t they know the first 2 things about me??) My first two reactions were:

1. Mwahahahahahahahahaha! (after reading the title)

2. Roll of the eyes (after reading the article)

But being french with an ADHD kid, I felt compelled to look deeper into the article.

Marylin Wedge, the writer of the article, starts by comparing how ADHD is labeled differently in the US and in France. On one hand, the US  call it a biological disorder, treated with medication like Ritalin, while in France, it is considered a  psychological disorder, treated with counselling. The difference is ‘treating the symptoms’ vs ‘treating the cause/ root of the problem’, the difference between ‘chemical’and ‘psychological’.

I don’t really want to dissect the article (you’re disappointed, I know!) because the topic of ADHD is so vast and so controversial that even after reading up so much on it, even after living with an ADHD boy for 8 years, I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge to do it justice. However, reading the writer’s observations about the french way of raising children (2nd-hand observations, taken from a french book), it made me think about what I observed; first, as a French person raised the ‘French way’ and second, as a mother of an ADHD precious boy.

The part of her article that makes me uncomfortable is when she states that French kids are better behaved than American ones.

French kids are awesome. I wish I had one.

French kids are awesome. I wish I had one.

I would argue that it is debatable. The French society is without a doubt much less permissive than the American one. When I go back to France for holidays, I am always reminded (‘shocked’ is a more accurate word) of all the rules – said or assumed – that my children are expected to follow. Starting with wearing shoes (winter or summer), not walking more than 3 feet away from me, not climbing, jumping, leaning over or reaching for anything higher that their knee-level, sitting quietly at a restaurant, not speaking too loud or making sudden moves… I find that often kids have to live through the old adage of ‘being seen, not heard’. In my observations, the discipline that the writer mentions is not a thought-through decision taken for the sake of the child but rather a discipline enforced when the child’s behaviour becomes inconvenient for the parents.

Every child is off to school from 3 years old until 18, 8.30am to 4.30pm, 4 and a half day a week. If they are not ‘Sage comme une image’ ( literally ‘as well-behaved as a picture’), they’ll quickly learn. The way kids were brought up 50 years ago is the way that they are raised today because, after all, why change something that worked so well at the beginning of last century?

It might seem strange that I would take a stab at the french way of raising children. Being French myself, I’m sure that I have – consciously or not – adopted some of the French behaviour, even when it comes to raising kids. A friend of mine has been incredibly helpful when my kids were younger, reminding me that it should be an age-appropriate discipline. In other words, expect a 2 year old to behave like a 2 year old!

The writer seems to imply that this strict discipline is what saved France from the ADHD that afflicted other countries.

For me personally, I rewind a couple of years: the year my son turned 5, the year we took the decision to try out Ritalin for our ADHD son. A decision not taken lightly, a decision that came after taking him out of his preschool because the teacher asked us to, a decision that came after having him assessed by a paediatric neurologist, a decision taken after realising the impact that his behaviour had on the rest of our family, a decision taken not just for my sake, but also for his.

When parents – and I include myself – find that no strategic parenting style seems to work the way it should, when your child is unable to sit still long enough to learn, when his relationships with friends, siblings and parents suffer because of his lack of impulse control… when these parents turn to the help of Ritalin for the sake of not only the ADHD child but also everyone else in the family, I cannot but roll my eyes at this kind of article.

I do not know whether the french society has less ADHD kids or whether they suppress their symptoms and spirits through rules and punishment. What I know for certain is that there is a place for Ritalin for those overwhelmed children who suffer academically, socially and emotionally. I know for certain that Ritalin brought balance into my son’s life and into our home and I know for certain that he is grateful that there is a medication out there to help him control his emotions.

I know what I aimed to achieve when I put my son on Ritalin. I am confused as to what the writer aimed to achieve with her article.

%d bloggers like this: