There is a song I mentally sing to myself every morning when I wake up. It's a song I think ALL parents should hear, memorize, and know deep in their heart. It's by a fantastic children songwriter who goes by the name Ralphs World (he is the only children songwriter I have been known to listen to in the car even without the kids) and it's called MOMMY needs COFFEE. If you have never heard of it, please take a moment to listen and memorize:
I am an avid coffee drinker. I can drink mass quantities of coffee every day up until it's time to pass out and well, pass out. And it's not because I have kids that exhaust me into passing out. I've always been this way. Kids help though, I readily admit. The reason I can do this is because I have a mild case of ADD. I was diagnosed as a kid but as it was so mild I've never taken medication for it. However after doing research when I reached adult status, wondering why I could drink so much coffee with no ill effects I stumbled upon several websites and forums of other adults with ADD who self medicated with caffeine. It's actually been proven that caffeine affects those of us with ADD differently than the average Joe because it helps to self regulate the chemical imbalance and allows us to actually keep up with our thoughts. In laymens terms, it allows us to focus.
ADD and ADHD is usually passed on genetically and poor Zavi got genetically knocked upside the head with my genes and consequently ADHD. His ADHD is on the severe side, so we do use medication along with behavior modification. Even then though, when the meds wear off at night, or before they kick in during the AM hours, Zavi is a completely different person. It's nothing he can do about it, nothing he can control. It is what it is. But mornings and nights are HARD for us all to deal with, even with a lot of consumed coffee. For most of the day you would never, ever realize Zavi has ADHD. He does fantastically at school, he is kind, and polite, and so damn smart! I've had people tell me point blank there is no way in hell he has ADHD after meeting him (on his medication and years of behavior modification). Instead of being insulted as if I were lying I take it as a compliment towards Zavi. he's worked very hard to be where he is today and I am beyond proud of him and his accomplishments.
But again, mornings and evenings are rough on the whole family. Arguments over the most stupid things occur nonstop, running around like a bee got caught in his pants, nonstop talking (really, I should call it shouting) about anything and nothing, not listening, focusing, or following directions. All out tantrums when it's time for bed.
I bring this up so you have a good sense of what we deal with on a constant daily basis. It's been like this since he was 3 and has never gotten better. Now when a child takes medication for ADHD every 6 months they go in for a check up with their pediatrician to make sure that the dosage is correct for them as they grow and that there are no bad side effects. Today Xavier had his 6 month check up after school.
In the car on the way there I tell him to please be on his best behavior, do not interrupt, please answer honestly any questions the Dr has, blah blah blah, to which he agrees. Last time we went for his check up I said the same thing and as I'm chatting with the Dr he was bouncing all over the place, jumping off the table, making up silly songs, just being, well, Zavi. And I remember having thought his medication was fine and the Dr asking me if this was him. I said "Yeah, this is him". She paused and whispered to me"Honey, I think we need to up his dosage." And I looked at him, not as his mom, but as the Dr saw him and realized whoa!! Yeah she was right.
This time he did fairly well. Aside from the fact the moment he got in the Space patient room and threw on the size 4yr old astronaut space suit and helmet and started pretending to walk on the moon. Which involves jumping in case you didn't know. He was smart enough to remember last visit and did not approach the table/bed thing. So he's jumping around like he's on the moon while the Dr and I talk. She asks her normal questions and I tell her that hes doing amazing in school, no bad behavior reports, the only issues are mornings and nights. So we get into details about that and I ashamedly admit that one time, when we ran out of his medication on a weekend so couldn't refill, that I gave him a cup of coffee knowing how it helps me.
I remember doing that and thinking that I was going to go to Mother Hell for giving my son a full cup of coffee in order to hopefully help him calm down. But in a weird sort of way it helped him. Once he got his medication refilled coffee was again off limits. Which was hard because, like mother like son, he loved it.
Oddly enough when I mentioned that and inwardly cringed thinking I was going to get verbally lashed for being a bad mom, instead the Dr leaned back with a ponderous expression and asked me how it affected him.
"It seemed to do for him what it does for me which is to help focus. It wasn't much but it took the edge off."
"And he liked it?"
"Liked it isn't a strong enough word I would use. Let's just say every time we go by Starbucks he gets a gleam in his eye and he sighs."
"You know there have been studies about how coffee actually helps people with ADHD?"
"Yes I know. I have ADD myself and found that out a few years ago. Its why I allowed him to have a cup when we had no medication."
"And your mornings are hard until the medication is noticeable?"
"How would you feel about allowing your son coffee in the morning?"
..... Coffee? For a 7 yr old? Is this allowed? Really? I started thinking maybe I wont go to Mothers Hell? Was I maybe not a bad mom then?
So the end result was that because Zavis medication does not kick in for awhile in the mornings, and it is hard to us all in the mornings until then (emotional confusion for Zavi since he can not control himself and doesn't know why) the Dr decided to prescribe him coffee every morning. His eyes lit up when he heard that and all the way home I heard about how he gets to have lattes now (dude how many 7 yr olds know what a latte IS???) and can we buy an espresso machine? (NO!)
So tomorrow we start caffeinating our oldest child with coffee. I can already picture the three of us, J, myself, and Zavi, sitting at the table, all of us reading , and preparing for the day. Oddly enough, it's quite a fitting picture. And now I realize that I need to teach my son the coffee song, and we need to create a new verse, just for him.
Z-A-V-I boy needs C-O-F-F-E-E