The Long and Winding Road

Pretty Okay

I hope I've told y'all this before, but just be sure I'll tell you again: You are the best. You. And you. All of you. I'm making swirly-type all-inclusive hand motions at my laptop screen. Thank you for all being so polite and kind and encouraging this week, in comments and emails. I've read every single one and hopefully can start plowing through some replies soon.

(As for the TwitBookFace thingies, I hope you'll forgive me for being too skittish to look over there right now. Everything is too calm and reasonable! The crazy/mean people must be hiding somewhere else! Let's...not go looking for them.)

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what to write about next. It's been a lot to process. I guess let's start with some blunt talk about ADD/ADHD medication. What could go wrong? That's not controversial at all! Ha ha! Man, it's too early to be this drunk. 

Noah started his medication yesterday morning. We waited until he could see his regular therapist on Monday, who guided us through the conversation about ADD and what it is and what the medication does. And what it doesn't, since Noah was very scared that it would change him or make him "different."

(She read selectively from a great book called Help Is On the Way. A little long for Noah's attention span, but he really absorbed the main points that ADD is not his fault, lots of other kids have it too, and that he's surrounded by people who can help. Very nice, if you're looking for something like that.)

Noah was not alone in those fears, once upon a time. Back in kindergarten, when we first suspected Noah also had ADD/ADHD in addition to All The Other Acronyms, Jason was very much against the idea of medication. For the "usual" reasons: That it's a cop-out, an excuse, a way to make our lives easier by doping our kid up. And yes, he worried it would change Noah in some fundamental way. Diminish him. Fade him like a copy of a copy. 

I have only given out two doses so far, so I am far from an Informed War Weary ADHD Med Veteran here, but I can already give you my opinion on those reasons: HAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 

It was Noah's ability to describe what his brain "sees" and "feels like" that made us realize that no, it wouldn't be about US at all. It's about making his life easier and easing some very real suffering. Noah's confidence and self-esteem were crumbling; his anxiety about being "bad" or getting in trouble all the time was giving way to depression. This is for him, not us. 

(Not to mention that the medication doesn't kick in until he arrives at school, and wears off like clockwork not long after he gets home. You're welcome, rest of the world! Enjoy my calm kid and send him back once he starts bouncing off the walls again.)

I picked Noah up at the bus stop yesterday and resisted the urge to just blurt out, "WELL? ANYTHING TO REPORT?"

He was in a cheerful and chatty mood — his lost library book had been found (he did return it; he just forgot that he returned it), they learned about newspapers in social studies and he wanted to make one at home.  

And then, no fucking lie:

"Thanks for giving me that medicine, Mom. My ADD is gone and I figured out that I'm not a dumb kid. I'm a smart kid who is good at school now."

Just like that, all matter of fact. Are you kidding me?

My questions poured out almost all at once. Really? REALLY? You could tell? (Yes.) Things felt different? (Yes!) Any headaches? (No.) Stomachaches/dizziness/dry mouth? (What? No.) Did you eat all your lunch? (Yes.) How do you feel now? (Fine.)

(Mom, why are you crying?)

He told me that he still chose to play alone at recess, preferring the company of an imaginary Olaf the Snowman from Frozen. He seemed relieved about that, though, and confessed that he'd been afraid that his imagination would go away with the ADD. Aw, buddy, no

Over the next couple hours, I watched and listened. I took notes. Noah was still doing his usual nonstop talking talking talking Star Trek LEGO Movie Lord of the Rings etc. But he was talking at a lower volume, and not quite as fast and breathless. He was not spinning around the room. He had a snack and I told him to do his homework. He didn't want to do his homework, but before his shoulders rose too far in protest, he stopped and said okay

"Can I take a break halfway though? I have a lot of homework."

Of course.

"Did you see that, Mom? How I calmed down and said okay?"

I absolutely did. 

We high-fived. Noah beamed at me.

Over the next couple hours, I scanned for evidence of a crash as the medicine wore off. He worked on his newspaper (he called it School Bus News and filled it with gossip and much intrigue), and started fidgeting a bit more. He asked for another snack, but said okay when I told him it was too close to dinner. He again asked if I noticed his lack of a tantrum or protest. I gave him a thumbs up. Hell yeah. 

Then...he grabbed a therapy chew to gnaw on. I had to remind him not to stand on the couch, and he didn't seem to hear me the first time. Jason sent him to retrieve Ezra from a neighbor's house and we watched him through the window as he stimmed and spun and hollered for no particular reason. Yep. Right on schedule. 

At dinner he told us the ADD was back because everything was distracting him again. Could he have more medicine? 

Tomorrow morning, I told him. 

He hung upside down over the arm of his chair and groaned. But he said okay

Later, he briefly complained of a stomachache. I wrote that down too. 


Over and over and over again, I've been reminded and warned that it can take a few tries and some time to find the right medication and dosage, so don't get discouraged. The last thing I expected was any sort of immediate result right out of the gate. I tried to stay skeptical and detached last night, but ultimately failed miserably because I was too busy being absolutely charmed and delighted by my happy, confident child. 

Obviously, I don't doubt there's a hefty placebo effect going on — we told Noah that the medicine would help, and his confidence level was already on the rise once he had a name for what he has, and understood that he wasn't a "freak" or "weird" — he has ADD, like a lot of other kids. We'll see what happens today, and tomorrow, and so forth.  

But for now, day one, done. And pretty damn okay. 



I first found you through your 40 week pregnancy blog (amazeballs). Now that my little guy is 6 months old, I find myself looking to you as a parenting role model. No pressure.

Reading your Noah posts really strike a chord with me. I'm a Speech-Language Pathologist in the schools, and I see "Noah" everyday. Some medicated, some not. Some with parental support, some none. Some severe, some mild.

I have to tell you that YOU are the parent that we, as therapists, love to see. You're acknowledging that it's hard and sometimes downright crappy, but you still WORK to do what's best for Noah. We appreciate you and you need to know that we are there to support you and Noah. It's not just our job, it's our passion.

Huge Happy Hugs to you and your family.


I don't comment all that often, but I read your blog and your column at Alphamom regularly.

Parenting is just such a hard job. We agonize over things, spend so much time questioning our decisions. I have long thought that my daughter (she's 15) has a touch of ADD or ADHD. I think I have it a little, too. But nothing like what you've described with Noah. I can only imagine the torment I would have put myself through before deciding to medicate him. You've obviously made the right decision for Noah, and I wish you nothing but the best. To echo Kelly Q, above, you just have to do what's best for your kid. And you are. Hope the judge-y folk stay away (ha ha, right?), but ignore them if they don't. You know your kid best and you ultimately know what's right for him.


The medication is for him. Everything you do is for him. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
It took my husband a while to get on board with that line of reasoning, too, but after we started medication for my son, he knew it was the right thing.
Your journey is so close to ours, Noah so like my boy.
A diagnosis isn't a label. It, just like the medication, is a tool to help your kiddo do the things *he* wants to do, which happens to include doing well in school.

Katie Shepherd

Often one hears "why me?". This time the answer is so obvious. You were blessed with this remarkable child and he with you so that you could share your journey and help other mothers and their unique children. I am so impressed by your dedication, intelligence, warmth and humour. When I was raising my boys my only resources were friends,books and my own judgement. What a gift to child rearing the Internet and "mommybloggers" can be. I began reading your blog because you made me laugh. I continued because you are so much more.


Thank you so much for writing about this. My son is five and I've pretty much always known that he had ADHD. I have lived with it and was "lucky" enough to pass that amazing trait onto him, only it affects him about one gazillion times more than it does me.

He started kindergarten last fall. His impulsivity and lack of focus were a definite problem for him. I actually think he might have gotten kicked out of school because of it. So, though we were reluctant to do so (especially my husband), we started him on a non-stimulant ADHD medication and he has been so much better. He still struggles with impulsivity and low self-esteem on a daily basis. Unfortunately, other kids are very mean to him, pushing his buttons until he snaps because they know he is "different" and they can get a reaction out of him without getting in trouble themselves. We are working on that, though.


So glad to hear Noah's first day on the medication went so well. I think it is great that he can articulate the way he feels so well. It took five years for me to finally put my son on ADHD medicine and it has made such a huge difference. He has been on it for two years now and looking back I wish I had not waited so long, it would have made his elementary school years a lot less stressful. Best of luck to you guys and thanks for sharing your journey with us.


Just adding my voice to all the others, belatedly, to say that I'm so happy to read this.


I am so happy for all of you, but especially for your sweet Noah. Awesome start!


I'm kind of surprised they didn't first do a blind trial. Up there in these socialized medicine parts ;) it is fairly standard to do a three week blind trial where one week = standard dose, one week = half dose, and one week = placebo.

Parents and school (and child care if applicable) fill out surveys at the end of each week. At the end of the three weeks the pharmacist reveals to the doctor and the patient which week was which. This way you can eliminate the Wondrous Placebo Effect Hurray Mama My Brain Is Cured thing.

We participated in such a trial when my son was 7. In fact he did best on a full dose (unsurprising, it's a stimulant), but I did my own subsequent experiment the following week making changes to his routine, bedtime, exposure to screen media, organization of his belongings, etc and asked the school to fill out the same form as the previous three weeks. I obtained the same results as the high dose Ritalin week.

At that point I realized I just couldn't justify medicating him. He has since grown out of his hyperactivity, although he still has some learning disabilities (mostly dyslexia).

Not at ALL saying the situations are comparable (every kid is a Super Special Snowflake, dammit), but I highly recommend doing both a blind trial and a Total Everything Overhaul before committing to medication long-term.

One of the best books I've read related to the subject, Simplicity Parenting, refers to Ritalin and other ADD meds as scaffolding, which can be put in place while parents implement big changes at home (around Routine, Stuff and Media, mostly), and then slowly tapered off. I highly recommend.

Love you guys, love yer boys. Wish you the best of luck whatever you decide. Noah is a superstar.


We opted to medicate at 4 for ADD after he "failed" or "passed" all the ADD tests given by the Dev Ped. We've had to up his dose once after he starting spinning again in the family room. We opted for Strattera a nonstimulant. Since my son has anger issues the stimulants can make that worse. I guess the good thing about it is it's a 24 hour drug..doesn't wear off. He also takes an impulse drug...Kapvay. Just takes the edge off of the "let's shove this kid off the jungle gym...hmmmm maybe that's a bad idea" type of thing. LOL Drugs are a hard decision to make however if he was a diabetic would you deny him insulin? Something I always have to remind myself. His brain needs insulin bottomline. Oh and our kid is a switcher...caffeine doesn't touch him (nor myself nor my brother (he used to drink a 32oz of coke a day)) but Benadryl makes him FALIIIP out. In other words don't do that unless you have days you can stay up.


I have an 8 month old son & have been reading your blog since Noah was very young. I'm so happy that you've found something that is helping. I sometimes wonder about myself because I relate with Noah a lot. I'm not hyperactive but everything else is very similar


I'm writing this to you as a decades-weary ADHD war veteran to say that the first time we gave our son medication, after resisting for over a year, he said: Hey! Someone shut that radio off in my brain and I can hear you clearly.


"Thanks for giving me that medicine, Mom. My ADD is gone and I figured out that I'm not a dumb kid. I'm a smart kid who is good at school now."

Well that just made me tear up. Awesome, guys. I wish I had had that experience as a kid, although I did have that moment as an adult after I was finally diagnosed. You are the best, Amy.

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