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Captain Distracto


Last spring, while in the crampy throes of miscarriage #2, Ben’s teacher from his hippie Nut Ban! school called me with some troubling news: Ben was having a terrible time staying on track and on task during the school day. It wasn’t a terrible shock to me to learn this; at home he frequently forgets to do simple multi-step things–like wiping his ass–and Dave and I were both having a hard time keeping him on track.

Nat, Ben’s biological father, suffers from Adult ADD (grown from childhood ADD) so badly that if I need something–let’s say a sweatshirt–from him, I have to catch him 10 or so minutes before he walks out the door, and STILL I’ll have only about a 25-30% chance of getting said sweatshirt back. Ever.

So while I wasn’t watching and waiting for Ben’s spectrum diagnosis, I have been vigilantly watching for any signs of ADD in Ben so that I could get it properly treated. Because to me, someone who is annoyingly focused, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to live life so scatteredly (I don’t even pretend that this is a word). Especially to a child who is in school.

Over the past 6 months or so, with a school change under his belt, I’ve been carefully watching and waiting to see if I could see any sorts of improvement with Ben’s ability to focus. I’ve seen no change either way, but I was waiting for parent-teacher conferences to speak with the teacher (who had no knowledge of his former teacher mentioning it) to confirm what I’d suspected and ask for what the next steps should be for us.

Obviously, this isn’t something I’m going to buck wildly at and insist that MY child is PERFECT, it’s the SYSTEM that’s flawed, because I’m more of a realist than that, and I DON’T think that having to follow Ben around and ride him to complete any task is the way to parent him. Nor, quite frankly, do I have the time to do this, even if I wanted to.

Parent-teacher conferences are in a week and a half, but yesterday I got a report card with a note attached confirming my suspicions: Ben is still having an awful time focusing at school and staying on task.

And even though I’d been expecting it, reading those words transported me back to receiving the news that Ben was likely on the autistic spectrum. While certainly not “leukemia” it’s still never great to hear that your child, your poor sweet child has something wrong with him (or her).

Not because I belong to the My Child Is The Perfectest Child EVER club, because I can assure you on all that is holy that his shit really does stink, but because I know just how much harder life will be for him. That, THAT is what I am sad about.

We’re going to wait until parent-teacher conferences to hear face-to-face what the teacher has to say and listen to any suggestions that he has to give us. And we’ll get Ben the help that he needs, of course we will, and we’ll do it without complaint.

But I sit here, and I look at my youngest son, whose biggest hurdle in life right this moment is the fact that he cannot always stack the blocks just so that it does not topple over after he hits 10 or so blocks in his tower. And I am sad to remember that his problems will only get harder and harder as he grows.

And I only wish that I could face all of the problems FOR him.

posted under The Sausage Factory
38 Comments to

“Captain Distracto”

  1. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:27 pm DD Says:

    Believe me, I get it. I so very, very much get it.

  2. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:31 pm Suzannah Says:

    Sorry you’re having to go through this. It sure is tough to learn that something is “wrong”. My son, now 11, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 7. We tried Strattera, but that didn’t work. Then we used Adderal for about a year, which helped him a lot with school, but he hardly ever ate anything and got down to 39 lbs! Plus he was really moody and would cry at the drop of a hat. So we chose to take him off the meds. He kept having issues, of course, so I started giving him Neptune Krill Oil, which has lots of good Omega fatty acids, which apparently help with brain fuction. In a few months he started doing much better, and for the past couple years he’s gotten either straight A’s or A’s & B’s. Now, I can’t verify that it was the krill oil that did it, or if perhaps he just kind of grew out of it. But I still give it to him, and have no intentions of stopping, ’cause if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! He still gets occasional comments from teachers about staying on task, but nothing major.

    Hang in there!!

  3. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:37 pm Petra Says:

    My 8-year-old stepson was diagnosed with pretty severe ADHD, as well as sensory issues and learning disabilities, so I SO know where you are coming from. Everything is harder for him (and us) and sometimes I just want to cry. I feel so bad for him because people sometimes just think he is a badly behaved kid, but he really can’t help it sometimes and he is SO sweet and SO smart. We had his IEP meeting today for his 3-year evaluation and he is doing EXTREMELY well. He has been on meds for about a year and a half and he has an aide in the classroom and gets all kind of resources. He has responded so well and is now testing high average and above average in academics and is functioning so much better in the classroom.

    Just wanted to share this so you know that, even if he is diagnosed, as long as you stay on the school system to give him what he needs, he can really thrive. Our son has come such a long way that most people don’t even realize he has any disorders now.

    Chin up! It’s hard, but it will be OK!

  4. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:40 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    oh, what we’d all give to make it all better for our kids!

  5. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:55 pm rebekah Says:

    That’s really touching and a beautiful post. Someday these days will be years in the past, and you’ll have done the magic it takes to gracefully get through these days of figuring it all out and making it WORK. Huge kudos to you for keeping it all sane and marvy (and funny) while a jillion weeks pregnant.

  6. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:56 pm Betts Says:

    I think that’s the hardest thing emotionally on moms. We want to make life perfect for our children. We want to beat up the kids that pick on them; we want to take away their pain and illness even if we have to feel it ourselves. Instead that have to hurt, suffer and fight and all we can do is comfort them and love them.

  7. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:30 pm Dot Says:

    Of course you’re sad. Because you love him. No apologies needed. It’s so sad to see loved ones suffer, or to see things in the future that they’ll have to face, even though they don’t know it yet. The comforts are that you’ve been watchful, you’re knowledgeable about it, that it will get dealt with starting early in his life, and you’ll get help for him. Hang in there.

  8. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:39 pm Jenn @ Says:

    It’s tough, Becky, to see that your kids need help. Believe me, I know. Remember – I have 4 boys – the older 3 have MASSIVE ADD, and I’m looking at a ODD or Bipolar diagnosis for the 5 year old. (we are still doing testing, but its basically been narrowed down to those 2 things.) You’re going to get the naysayers that swear that medicine is the DEBIL, and honestly it seems that everyone has an opinion about how you should parent YOUR child. Basically what I’m trying to say is that you’re doing the right thing, keeping your eyes open and your options open. ((HUGS)) If you want any assvice on NOT stringing him up on those hyper days, you have my email addy 😉

  9. On November 12th, 2008 at 1:43 pm Jenn Says:

    Being a parent is incredibly hard whenever your kids are going through something that you cannot magically fix with hugs or awesome character band-aids. But you’re a good mom and you love your kids and while that’s not EVERYTHING it’s certainly the most important thing.

  10. On November 12th, 2008 at 12:51 pm Badass Geek Says:

    You’re amazing for wanting to take the struggles away from your children, but at the same time, you’re only human. And for that matter, how could he grow up with a well-adjusted view of the world if he was raised without any struggles at all?

  11. On November 12th, 2008 at 1:18 pm Rachel Says:

    There really is nothing harder than hearing that there is something wrong with your child. It was devastating when the doctors confirmed that Ceara is completely deaf in one ear, and that her reconstructive surgery on that ear was not successful. It was even more devastating when I was told my 2 day old baby boy had to have emergency surgery to ‘untangle’ his intenstine due to a defect that had arranged it wrong.
    We want perfect kids, but who are we to think we deserve perfect kids when we are so imperfect? Though in my heart I honestly believe that God gives us these kids because He KNOWS we will love them and take care of them no matter what. We will move heaven and earth to make things ok for them, and love them while we’re doing it.

    Hang in there Becky, I am a therapist and have seen the great progress kids with ADHD and autistic spectrum disorders can make with loving and involved parents.

  12. On November 12th, 2008 at 2:22 pm Kristen Says:

    Thinking about you Becky, I really admire you as a mom.
    Hope you sleep soon too:)

  13. On November 12th, 2008 at 2:27 pm Kristine Says:

    My nephew was born without his three middle fingers on his right hand, and something my sister said to her husband has stuck with me for the past 13 years. “Everyone has something ‘wrong’ with them. His just happens to be physical.”

    Everyone has their obstacles to overcome, no one is perfect anyway. That you are a parent who loves and cares about his future and is willing to work on solutions with him will lessen his load – and for that he will thank you many years down the road.

  14. On November 12th, 2008 at 1:28 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    Well, you can’t take care of all your kids’ problems for them and in my experience with my own children, what were originally perceived as “problems” have turned out to be the very things which have made them strongest and most unique.

  15. On November 12th, 2008 at 1:41 pm jerseygirl89 Says:

    I’m so not looking forward to this “not being able to solve his problems for him” stage.

    Some thoughts from a former teacher on ADHD/ADD:

    Two of my students made a lot of progress when they manipulated Silly Putty whenever they were supposed to be listening.

    Giving them lots of “errands” (sometimes it was just a blank note to another sympathetic teacher or administrator) to run during work times gave them enough breaks to enable them to focus in short bursts.

    Picture charts of multi-step home and school routines helped me stay positive instead of tired of saying the same thing over and over.

    This can be challenging for a teacher, but a behavior chart on a kid’s desk, where s/he can earn a sticker for staying on task in small increments (to grow larger) and a reward for five stickers worked on some of my other students.

    I never had this experience in the ghetto where I taught, but I’ve been told that parents can demand a lot of helpful services for their diagnosed children. And that some places actually provide these services.

  16. On November 12th, 2008 at 3:13 pm Heather P. Says:

    Becky, recently there were studies done that linked ADD/ADHD with sleep disorders.
    There are some great CD’s out there by Dr. Jeffery Thompson. They are tones that guide the brain into the proper sleep states with rain sounds, ocean waves, or classical music. Thompson developed them when he and his wife were having trouble with their infant son. They are safe for pregnant women, children, elderly-you name it-just don’t listen to them in your car!
    You can find them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Relaxation Company.
    I love the suggestion about the Neptune Krill Oil, too. I would DEFINATELY, try a few natural remedies before
    going with the hard core chemicals.
    I would absolutely question the teacher about when he is having problems, Is it morning, or after lunch? Could the problem be that Ben is tired, or sleepy or hungry? There are many explanations, but so many people jump on the Adderal bandwagon and it just makes me ill.
    Good luck with whatever you choose.

  17. On November 12th, 2008 at 3:14 pm baseballmom Says:

    Aw, girl…it’s so hard. We struggled with T for a year or so with his seizures/meds before we got it right, and I have to say, as a person who works in the schools, at least you are CONCERNED, and willing to do anything it takes to help your boy. Many parents ignore it, blame it on the school/district/teacher/god, and never do anything about it, and their child is the one paying for it. Does Ben have a special learning plan? T has what’s called a 504 plan to give him extra time/help with homework/tests/projects because of his meds and epilepsy. It’s just an insurance plan, but it is helping us to have a little leverage where his work is concerned. It’s a step down from an IEP, but I’m grateful that we have it. I worked one on one with a boy who is mildly autistic last year for six months, and it really helped him to focus and stay on track. You should see if your school has a program like that? Anyway, sorry to be long winded, but I’m thinking of you and hope it turns out well-keep us posted!

  18. On November 12th, 2008 at 3:23 pm Sara Says:

    This sucks, simply because it IS another thing the poor guy has to deal with. He’s so lucky that you are his momma, and are willing and ready to help him deal.

  19. On November 12th, 2008 at 2:36 pm Lola Says:

    My son is struggling in school with his reading, got a really bad report card Friday and a note from the reading specialist saying that he is too distracted and can’t stay on task. It’s hard to hear, but I know it’s true.

    I know how hard he’s struggling with reading, since he’s developed some kind of anxious tic where he scratches his head every time he reads. He’s got a big sore from scratching, and he only does it in school or when he’s trying to read at home. He doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

    I’m very sad, too, but I’m working on finding the right tutor. Accepting it and getting on it as quickly as possible is all we parents can do.

  20. On November 12th, 2008 at 3:40 pm Karen Says:


  21. On November 12th, 2008 at 4:14 pm Maria Says:

    Last week the doctor warned us that chronic tics generally go hand in hand with ADD and hyperactivity. The same week, we’ve gotten two reports from Chipmunk’s school that he’s overactive, has trouble focusing, along with a host of other “things.”

    But it was followed by a glowing report on his enthusiasm and loveliness.

    I’m worried about/for him. Sometimes he gets so manic I want to swaddle him and shush him and comfort him.

    Kids are weird.


  22. On November 12th, 2008 at 3:27 pm TinaBaby Says:

    My daughter had a speech delay so severe that most people couldn’t understand 85% of what she had to say by the time she was 5 years. Even with early intervention in pre-school, the only people who could understand her enough to translate were her dad, both her grandmothers, & I. I’ll never forget the first IEP meeting we had with her kindergarten teacher, the speech therapist, & the school representative. Hearing the words “pronounced speech impediment,” “unable to participate in class discussions due to speech” were like knives in my heart. I was able to hold it together during the meeting, but I cried all the way home. I felt like I didn’t do enough when she was a baby and maybe if I had done something different she wouldn’t have to go through this. It hurt to watch Beana get so frustrated trying to make someone understand what she was saying that she would burst into tears.

    I just wanted to wrap her up in a cocoon and protect her from the hurt, but as you know it’s impossible to protect them from everything. By the end of that year, the improvement was nothing short of amazing, she still had a speech delay but thanks to kind and dedicated speech therapists and teachers Beana was able to articulate herself better and control the frustration by speaking slower. As a side benefit she learned to be more compassionate, we were always getting notes sent home about how she would stand up for a classmate whenever others would laugh at them. In the 1st grade there was a little boy no one could understand and she would translate for him. lol

    She’s now in the 3rd grade and according to her speech teacher she’ll most likely graduate out of her speech classes. This time after I first IEP meeting of the year, I cried like a baby because her teacher didn’t believe us when we told him how bad it was. He couldn’t believe there was ever a time when she didn’t participate due to speech issues. Now she’s one of his most involved students.

    I wrote this novel to say that in a small way I understand, and that Ben is really blessed to have you & Dave as his rock, standing in front of him when he needs protection, standing beside when he needs a cheering section, and standing behind him when he needs a kick in the pants.

  23. On November 12th, 2008 at 4:47 pm mumma boo Says:

    Lady, Ben is very lucky to have you as his mom. Your realistic attitude toward the situation, your fierce protectiveness, and your willingness to do what it takes to get him the help he needs is what makes you a great mom. (Not to mention you love the kid to pieces.) Hang in there! Once the structure is in place, he’ll do amazingly well. I’ve seen it happen with my godsons, and know it will for Ben.

  24. On November 12th, 2008 at 5:08 pm Fancy Says:

    I don’t think very many of us could say we are raising the perfect child, of course we want them to be perfect in all the ways that will ensure their safety and happiness. I hope everything works out.

  25. On November 12th, 2008 at 5:14 pm foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) Says:

    I’m sorry you’re having to face what may be a potentially big change in things for your son. If there’s any advantages here, it’s that you’ve been aware and watchful. Thinking of you…

  26. On November 12th, 2008 at 5:33 pm Carmen Says:

    Here is a little bit of hope for you. My older brother struggled through school, through many areas of his life when he was younger, and was finally diagnosed with ADD when he was 20. He went back, upgraded his HighSchooling, and has now completed two undergrad degrees. He is smart, perhaps too smart. He isn’t ‘perfect’ but he is ‘perfect’ in his own way if that makes sense. He keeps a job for a few months, then switches. Same with his condo, and many other areas of his life. But he is one of the most amazing, spontaneous people to be around. I say you are blessed to have someone in your life who will more than likely always keep you on your toes. Any challenge that faces us is what we make of it. I say, just make this one great, and it will be. He will be.

  27. On November 12th, 2008 at 4:43 pm Sarah Says:


  28. On November 12th, 2008 at 4:58 pm Lexi Says:

    Aww, I feel ya. You stated exactly what I feel about my own son (tho much more eloquently than I could have!)

  29. On November 12th, 2008 at 6:59 pm kalakly Says:

    Dude, no matter what, he has a rockin, hooka lovin mom who will always throw smack down for him when he needs the assist. And that’s a hell of a lot of posse in his corner:)

  30. On November 12th, 2008 at 9:49 pm Em Says:

    “And I only wish that I could face all of the problems FOR him.”

    Don’t ever doubt for a split second that you are a very good mom.


  31. On November 12th, 2008 at 10:56 pm Collette Says:

    Oh my, I thought your title was Captain Distructo and read through this trying to figure out what the hell it had to do with distruction then I realized it said Captain Distracto. Time to put down the wine and go to bed.

    By the way, I tagged you.

  32. On November 12th, 2008 at 11:05 pm Holly Says:

    Hon I know what you mean. I also know YOU will do what you need to do to help your son and to teach him how he is just as wonderful the way he is. My youngest son had a horrendous time in K. We didn’t know WHAT was happening to him. We figured it out. We refused to let it “become” him. He is now in 2nd grade and well on the way to becoming an Honor Student for the 2nd year in a row. 🙂

  33. On November 12th, 2008 at 11:07 pm Lainey-Paney Says:

    we just want to carry their burdens & leap over their hurdles…and just protect them from all of the hurt in the world….

  34. On November 13th, 2008 at 7:32 am heather Says:

    You are giving him the help he needs now and the tools he’ll need later to overcome some of the difficulties he faces. You are absolutely doing what you can for him, and that’s all anyone can hope for. Think about all the little kids out there who have parents who don’t give a crap about their kids’ disabilities and what they are going to have to face or what they might be like as adults. You can’t change him, but you can help him, and be there for him, and that’s what you’re going to do. I’m happy for the little guy because he’s got parents that are willing to do what it takes to give him whatever advantages they can. I hope that you will see some improvements over time that will make you feel a little better for his situation. It’s always hard to see your children struggle, and sad to know you couldn’t help the way they were born. You’re doing something, and that’s what’s important.

  35. On November 13th, 2008 at 8:40 am Anjali Says:

    This post was so beautiful it made me cry.

    That’s the very hardest thing about parenting, I think. Not being able to protect them from the world around them.

  36. On November 13th, 2008 at 1:38 pm kbrients Says:

    I wish that was the way that it works too ;(

  37. On November 21st, 2008 at 12:32 pm Emily (Apron Strings) Says:

    Aw sweetie, if I could’ve wrapped my arms around you this day, I would have been there.

    The thing is, even though I don’t KNOW YOU, know you (as in like IRL), somehow I know that despite every challenge thrown your way … you’ll find a way to make it work.


  38. On November 21st, 2008 at 9:56 pm Ms.Sassypants Says:

    I can totally relate. My son was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 7. You worry about them, and for them. It kind of comes with the momma-package, along with the super-sized helping of momma-guilt. It’s hard work growing up. It makes us sad when they already have hurdles to jump over, when they’re still so little.

    It will get better though.

    BTW, congrats! I’m a long-time lurker.

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